The Making Of The Bangkok Adrenaline Movie
Birth Of The Idea
The Bangkok Adrenaline movie was initially dreamed up in the back of a van full of sweaty stuntmen on the way home of the final day of filming, after six weeks shooting a French Pirate movie in the heat of tropical Thailand. This is where three of the main actors met for the first time - Daniel O'Neill (Starring Role and Fight Choreography), Raimund Huber (Story by, Director, Production and Actor) and Conan Stevens (Scriptwriter and Actor).
Bangkok Adrenaline was given birth by Raimund Huber whose voice carried over the general talk. "Why don't we make our own movie?". Being a Westerner in Asian cinema is as bad as being an Asian in Western cinema - you generally get small roles, mainly as stereotyped bad guys. The foreign movies that film in Asia bring the stars and main actors and hire some stuntmen and the extras locally, sometimes a '50 worder' (small speaking) part is available - if you speak the language they are filming in.
Raimund's idea was that they could make their own movie, Bangkok Adrenaline, and star in it. Thereby they could choreograph their own fights and do their best acting so they could prove that they were better than the parts/characters they were then playing and thus leapfrog their acting careers way ahead of where they were now. The chance for some good showreel footage was all that most needed to be persuaded to join the Bangkok Adrenaline movie effort.
Little did they realise at the time how far ahead their careers would catapult from Bangkok Adrenaline, a no budget movie by Western standards.
This idea obtained immediate agreement from all and thus Bangkok Adrenaline was born, but unlike many others who spout torrents of hot air Raimund did indeed follow up on his idea and got the ball rolling.
Developing The Storyline
After several meetings between Raimund and (now Independant Producer) David Ismalone where the Bangkok Adrenaline project was discussed at length. Raimund called a meeting amongst 7 guys that he knew to meet at a central pub in a run down area of Bangkok, Thailand - in the Washington Square area near Sukhumvit Soi 22 to brainstorm ideas for a story line for Bangkok Adrenaline.
The guys all came along and Ray presented the Bangkok Adrenaline ideas to that point. The main idea was to base the story around some down on their luck foreigners getting desperate for cash (not far from the truth at all for most of those present at this meeting) and developing a scheme to kidnap and ransom a wealthy tycoon's daughter.
Over about 4 hours different story lines and plot twists were discussed for Bangkok Adrenaline. Also what genre the movie was to be - Action, Action/Drama, Action/Comedy were all discussed seriously and action/comedy was chosen due to this being a currently popular mix and hopefully easier to sell. Then it was discussed how silly or slapstick should the comedy be, or should it be kept to a more mature level.
The name for the Bangkok Adrenaline movie was discussed at length too in this meeting. The best the boys could come up with at that stage was Raimunds idea of the broken English saying that had made it's way into popular culture in Thailands tourist areas of "Same, Same But Different."
In that first meeting the seeds of the movie were trully born, all who attended were keen and excited about the Bangkok Adrenaline project. Looking back none of us had any idea of how to proceed beyond this point so it was all taken at one small step at a time. Each step forward provided the logical next step until before they knew it they were in the middle of filming Bangkok Adrenaline.
After this meeting Raimund went home and wrote a 4 page summary of the movie. Some points were challenged as being not in line with Thai culture and were changed to suit. This added unexpected but welcome plot twists for the Bangkok Adrenaline story line like changing the villian to a ruthless American man marrying into the wealthy Thai family for their money with little care for his family. Whereas family is very important in Thai culture and the original idea of an evil Thai mafia boss father wishing to harm his own daughter would not relate well with Thai audiences.
Main actors were put forward for each of the Bangkok Adrenaline main characters. They were filmed talking Thai and English and displaying their fight skills for presentation to various investors at a later date.
Around this time the Thai government was overthrown in a military coup, throwing the country into a state of confusion as Tanks rolled down the main streets of Bangkok and armed soldiers were stationed at every major intersection. This did not deter our offscreen heroes.
The initial proposed Scriptwriter for the Bangkok Adrenaline was deemed too slow to get the job done in the short time available to try to get some investors who dropped out of another production interested in funding Bangkok Adrenaline and so Raimund was looking for a new scriptwriter.
Raimund met with Conan, who had supplied the initial Director through contacts in the Independant Film Industry. Conan had just been to Cambodia on a 'scouting mission' as he planned to move there after the recent Military Coup in Thailand had wiped out all foreign movie bookings to film in Thailand. Conan's plan was to go to Cambodia until the political situation in Thailand improved.
Upon meeting Raimund again Ray mentioned that he was looking for someone else to write the script, hoping Conan knew another contact in the Indy film scene. Conan instantly volunteered himself to write the Bangkok Adrenaline script. Raimund (and everyone else) were sceptical. Conan pointed out that he had studied at University and thus had written many essays (though knowing Conan I think he skipped many of these assignments) and had written several eBooks in his previous computer business. So a trial day was set.
Writing The Script
Conan and Ray met at the same pub in that run down area of Bangkok, and sat there for 14 hours talking about and writing Bangkok Adrenaline. At the end of the day Conan had 20 pages of close typed script, completely unformatted and the dialogue was just rude indicators to keep the plot flowing. These 20 pages comprised 1/2 of the 1st draft of the Bangkok Adrenaline script, the working title was changed to "Bang, Bang, Bangkok" but neither Raimund or Conan were satisfied with this name but it was better and a step in the right direction for an action movie. Raimund was impressed with Conans ability to write and their ability to work together with similar ideas about the film was a great help in this otherwise very difficult task.
Conan was signed to write the entire Bangkok Adrenaline movie script.
Bangkok Adrenaline being an Action Movie a lot of the script was left partly blank with "fight to be decided by Actors and the location", also to make it easier the characters in the movie were written to have the similar personalities as the actors themselves, except on the behalf of Conan who was to play a stupid character, and Ray who was to play a cowardly scumbag - far from their real life personas.
Also we need to mention the romantic scene (you'll know this if you have watched the movie) was a little cheesy as neither Conan nor Raimund could write it and even with their best efforts the space was left blank with "Needs to be written by someone else (female)" noted, but the final result was an outstanding comedic addition to the overall movie.
The Naming Of Bangkok Adrenaline
Conan and Ray met almost daily over the next 30 days - the deadline for a completed movie script. It was during this time that Conan proposed the name "Bangkok Adrenaline", Raimund instantly liked it and it was adopted as the title of the movie they were writing.
The reasoning was that that "Bangkok Adrenaline" sounded good, indicated the setting for the movie and that it was to be fast paced action. Also on their minds was the recent filming of the Nicholas Cage movie "Bangkok Dangerous". It was thought that if that movie was very successful it might peak the interest of the movie watching public to watch other movies shot in Bangkok, for this reason they were hoping to release "Bangkok Adrenaline" around the same time as "Bangkok Dangerous" was released.
The title was liked so much by everyone that the movie title for Thai release (in Thai language) even kept the word Adrenaline.
The "Restaurant" where Conan and Ray wrote B.A. (really)
Over the next 30 days Conan and Ray sat in a run down, very budget, family 'restaurant' - a hole in the wall stir fry place with plastic tables and chairs and an electric fan to stop sweat dripping into the laptop. This was in fact Conan's favourite eating place as the food was good and cheap, if you could stomach that the dishes were washed in a bucket on the floor in the bathroom near the urinals.
In those 30 days they wrote a second draft of Bangkok Adrenaline and a final working 3rd draft was even finished and ready for presentation to investors.
Getting The Money To Film
The race to finish the entire Bangkok Adrenaline script in 30 days was due to some ready investors pulling out of another project and looking around in the film business for another investment, an intial meeting was had with a representative for the investors who gave Conan and Raimund a list of things the investors would require before they would commit their money.
This advice turned out to be spot on during another investors meeting with Box Office Entertainment Co. After the presentation of the proposed Bangkok Adrenaline project the first question was "How much do you need?". Things went well from there as Box Office Entertainment turned out to be a brilliant strategic partner with connections in the local TV programming industry, the national DVD distribution chain, the touring cinema that takes films to remote villages, and obviously they had very strong connections with the local cinema chains.
Funding secured it was time to move on to the next step which was now obvious... casting and filming.
The total Bangkok Adrenaline budget was about us$500,000 - a very small amount even by Thai standards. In the West this would in fact be classed as a "No Budget Production"
See the blog section for filming details from Conan's point of view of the Bangkok Adrenaline filming as it happened.
Initial Cinematic Release
Bangkok Adrenaline was released in the Major Cineplex chain across Thailand with little advertising besides the trailer showing before "Fast and the Furious 4" and some standard media publicity mainly generated by heart throb soap star Priya Suandokemai (Pooh) working in her first movie. Initial critics reviews were surprisingly very good and the audience at the opening night laughed their way through most of the film so it seems the comedy aspect was also well recieved.
The Bangkok Adrenaline movie ran well in many cinemas. The best run was for 7 weeks in the resort town of Pattaya City, and this was in the Thai language dub with no subtitles in a city dominated by long term expats and holiday makers, where English is the major language.
Bangkok Adrenaline was only released in a Thai edit with Thai language dubbing and no subtitles to help stop Bangkok Adrenaline from being uploaded to the internet. If this had happened then it would have made the International rights sales almost worthless thus the investors would have lost a lot of potential income (remember movie investing is a risky gamble at the best of times) and this would have disuaded them from investing again.
A Word About Movie Pirates
Pirating movies really does hurt the industry. Investors are willing to risk less, smaller budgets are put forward, actors get paid less so there is less incentive to enter the industry, the special effects and computer graphics are cut and more boring reality TV shows are the result.
I know for a fact that Conan, who helped with the content of this site, as an Australian Citizen often lived below the official Australian poverty line in his attempts since he moved to Thailand to make it as an International actor. To take money from the hard working stuntmen, martial artists and actors having a go and trying their hardest is not cool.
A very special thanks must be given to Motion Pictures (Thailand) and Box Office Entertainment for supporting the entire making of the Bangkok Adrenaline movie from the start.