ELLE Exclusive: Thai Filmmaker and Director Kris Pond Chats About His New Netflix Release ‘ManSuang’ And More

Kris Pond

Thai Boy Love dramas, or BL dramas for short, are the rage that no one saw taking over the world of entertainment. Previously, a very specific audience—those who were passionate about manga or anime in general—enjoyed this genre of shows or movies. But things changed significantly after the lockdown; there was a sudden takeover of Thai BL shows for the audience, who were looking for new ways to avoid their reality. Every month, Thai drama producers continued to produce BL series across a variety of genres, with the majority of them centring around romantic school or college scenarios.

It all changed with the release of KinnPorsche in 2022. The creator behind this mafia BL story, Krisda Witthayakhajorndet, who goes by Kris Pond, saw the power this genre holds and is now narrating newer and fresher stories. With his recent directorial release on Netflix titled ManSuang, starring the current biggest names in Thai industry, Mile and Apo, which is ruling the charts globally, Kris Pond sat down to chat with ELLE about the movie’s cultural impact and the future plans of his production company.


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ELLE: Tell us something about your journey with Be On Cloud.

Kris Pond: So far, it has been an incredible journey that is fun and flavourful, which has also changed a lot of my worldview. In the past, I might have created joy and happiness for a limited circle of people around me, such as my family and friends or a dozen of thousands of concertgoers, but now what I have been doing can entertain and create joyful moments for a wider crowd, like millions of people. When I was able to achieve this kind of result, it also delighted me and brought new experiences to myself and the people that I’ve worked with. It allowed us to walk this journey together. I could say that this passage of growth is still something that I enjoy, so I will continue walking even further.

ELLE: You guys have come so far in the past few years. How does it feel to represent Thailand on global platforms?

Kris Pond: Thailand had already received massive recognition on the global stage way before we entered the scene. Nevertheless, with what we have done and the opportunity that we have gained, we sincerely put our devotion into it, as we want to show the world our Thai culture through the lens, perspectives, determination, and personal experiences of our team. Today, we have finally done it, and it always makes me proud whenever I think about it. Frankly, we don’t look at ourselves as a representative of Thailand but, rather, we see ourselves as a messenger or an intermediary who bring with us Thai art, culture, and way of life and use that to build a fruitful relationship or friendship as well as bring joy and entertainment to many diverse groups of people from various backgrounds and origins. I think this is the part that drew us in, and it is charming for us to get to know, learn, and exchange more with our multicultural counterparts.

ELLE: Please share the backstory of ManSuang, how the movie came about, how you guys chose the cast, and everything else.

Kris Pond: As I have said multiple times before, ManSuang was branching out and leveraging the success of KinnPorsche. The series has brought us massive success. It inspired us to dream bigger. We want more people to know about our company, the characters, and the spirit that we have put into our work, as well as the style of content that we create. So, we decided to develop ManSuang, which originated from our artists’s passion for this kind of project. We gather their initial aspirations as our starting point to come up with a project that enables us to showcase the identities and talents of everyone on our team—a project that all of us would be happy and proud to create.

Of course, we chose to walk the rocky road. As I have mentioned before, ManSuang is not a typical box office hit kind of film. It isn’t an easy-to-digest story but rather a film that is built purely on our passions and beliefs. I think many people who have already seen it would probably be able to grasp some of the character, identity, and vision of our company. We have worked our way from ground zero with no precedented references, resulting in a new and different kind of flavour in the Thai film industry.

ELLE: How excited are you and your team for ManSuang’s global premiere on Netflix?

Kris Pond: To put it simply, we have been fans and real users of Netflix for so long, so of course, we are beyond thrilled that our work is now available globally on Netflix, allowing people from all over the world to watch it. It is our intention and belief that we want to craft this work and later have it on Netflix because we want more people to learn and see the story of our Thai culture, which is set in an era with multiple cross-cultural combinations. The story went back in time, like hundreds of years ago, portraying the root of modern Thai culture and how it all came together today. Still, we told the story based on our perspective and interpretation of documented history.

We tried to tell the untold story that even many Thai folks haven’t heard before. And we all know Netflix is one of the leading platforms people from all around the globe use to indulge in entertaining content. Thus, I’m really proud that we’ve gotten a chance to partner with them. And I’m sure that this is not the only work and definitely not the last one that we will be working on with Netflix.

ELLE: How was your shooting experience at the ManSuang set, especially given the movie’s historical theme? Any favourite scene fans should keep an eye on.

Kris Pond: When you are working with anything related to history, it is always a challenge. This is because everything no longer exists in the present day. We have to rebuild everything from scratch based on the information that we have. The tricky part is how to make the story enjoyable and not shun people out, as the story might become too dull or hard to follow, especially those who are not really keen on our history or, more specifically, the foreigners. How can we make this film still appealing and relatable to them so that it can retain their attention and emotions, making audiences immerse themselves in our film?

While filming it, there were multiple hassles and obstacles, as we had to base everything on and not deviate too much from what has been documented in history. We have to discuss, argue, and make our best interpretations constantly. On top of that, everything that we used on set had to be recreated as a replica or entirely made up from scratch, so it required a lot of investment. The end result that we have is that I can only say that we have done everything in our power at that time. We tried to be as detailed as we could in all aspects, from the kind of flowers to the colours that we used. Every detail was backed up with historical evidence that it could actually have happened during that period. We want people to feel the sincerity and dedication that we have for our work.

All the costumes, choreography, and everything were filled with meanings behind them. Every time I watched the shows, or even during our filming, I enjoyed all of them. For many performance scenes in this film, we invested a lot of budget into creating them, even when we were fully aware that they would only appear in the film for a few seconds. However, in our creation process, we have put our best effort into every little detail.

ELLE: What are the future projects of Be on Cloud that we should be looking forward to?

Kris Pond: This year, we will expand more into filmmaking as well as the growth of our company. There will be more partnering, and the release of a new work that we’re confident will be another masterpiece, as we have been preparing it for so long. It will probably help open up more opportunities for us to work with many new people. Obviously, there will be some structural and strategic developments within our organisation, too. These changes and developments are vital for our company to better our craft in creating work and projects with better global potential. I want everyone to keep their eyes on us because many of our coming projects that will be announced later will bring more excitement and fun for you all.

Also, read: ELLE Exclusive: Mile And Apo Chat About Their Upcoming Movie ManSuang

Thai BL Dramas Worth Watching For The Unique Portrayal Of Love And Romance

- Digital Writer


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