Filming In Interesting Places

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by Locked Up Abroad Production Team

Thursday February 11 2010
After nearly two weeks of preparations, we’re itching to get started. The morning gets underway well at 11am — the opening scene is shot at a guesthouse overlooking a crazily busy road junction in downtown Phnom Penh. The heat, the humidity, the sights and sounds are an assault on the senses. We then move to a bar run by an ex pat called Derek. On arrival, Derek asks me if I want a beer (I don’t drink), or a joint (I don’t smoke). We are overrunning a tad, so after lunch it’s straight to a junior school for a great scene where Justin our actor is teaching a class of delightful children. The light at this location makes for some lovely production stills. We shoot sunset gv’s of a nearby temple then relocate to the Intercon Hotel for 4 scenes where Tim our protagonist meets Bradley for the first time. It’s a hectic end to the first day and we wrap just after 11pm. One down, seven to go!

Friday February 12 2010
On the face of it today’s schedule looks pretty straightforward. We start at a backpacker’s cafe behind our Hotel (allegedly frequented by Chinese gangsters and ‘therapists’). Then we move to a room inside our hotel to film scenes where Tim is introduced to the suitcase of heroin. It’s a ridiculous moment when he realises just how much he’s carrying (10.5kg) and how poorly packed it is. That evening we film some girls dancing at a girly bar in a seedy part of the city frequented by sex tourists. Not a particularly pleasant experience. In the process we upset a Japanese businessman who leaves the premises in a rage. Good. After wrapping we head back to the backpacker’s cafe behind our hotel for a nightcap and at midnight we receive a call from the fixer telling us that the first location tomorrow has fallen through at the last minute. Barbie the director and I are furious — we’ve been dealing with this for the last two weeks and it’s really pissing us off. I head back to my room to rewrite the schedule again!

Saturday February 13 2010
We start at lunchtime filming a scene at a residential property where Tim meets the first of many young women he helps to travel overseas to find work. It goes very well. We then film some driving scenes, with Will our DOP filming off the back of a moped in typical fearless style, weaving through the evening traffic. It’s common to find a family of five sitting on a small moped designed for one. In the UK, this would have the Health and Safety Executive hopping up and down but here no one seems to mind. It’s very refreshing. The evening is spent filming at a bar on a fantastic riverside location. A journalist from the much maligned Cambodian Daily has shown up with his photographer and is sniffing around for information. Apparently our filming has created a bit of a stir among the ex pat community. I do my best to put him off and check his photographer’s camera for photos. We have full use of the bar and a whole host of extras for about 4 hours — we get some great footage, Barbie is delighted.

Sunday February 14 2010
Today an article appears in The Cambodian Daily with a photograph of me. I’m not impressed. Anyway, we begin the day filming some market scenes by the river — local colour is the phrase Barbie likes to use, and it’s very true especially as the sun moves towards the horizon. That evening we film in the car park at our hotel, where the drugs are delivered to Bradley and Tim. It takes longer than we’d hoped and by the end of the night we’re all wrestling to keep our focus. We wrap at 1am and look forward to a non filming day tomorrow.

Locked Up AbroadBangkok” premieres Wednesday July 21 at 10P et/pt.