Riverside's glitzy True Face nightclub became a music video set on Saturday as filmmaker Sok Visal put a hip-hop spin on a classic Cambodian rock tune.
Camera cranes and moving platforms filled the dance floor as singer Srey Leak sang So Savoeun’s 1960s love ballad "Saravan Rok Ku" while English rapper Grant “Gobshite” Massey spat out his own lyrics.
Visal, the French-Cambodian founder of 391 Films and record label KlapYaHandz, said the video aimed to pay homage to an old Cambodian star while making the song interesting to today’s youth.
Positive feedback after the track was released for free on audio-streaming site SoundCloud inspired Visal to shoot the music video.
“That Cambodian track has that classy sound to it, but at the same time I don’t forget the street side and the hip-hop side,” Visal said, adding that exterior scenes would be shot at Koh Pich City Hall.
Massey, who produced the cover’s hip-hop content in conjunction with France-based rapper 12Mé, described his lyrics as a fun accompaniment to the old tune.
“It’s just ego-tripping pretty much, the lyrics have no hidden meaning or depth – it’s just spitting for the fun of it,” Massey said.
The Englishman added that he got involved with the song when 12Mé sent him the beats to work with. For the video, Massey did his part for the camera while sitting in True Face’s VIP booth.
“For me, it’s just a case of chilling and waiting until it’s my turn [to shoot], getting on and getting it done,” he said.
The "Saravan Rok Ku" video is being produced simultaneously with Massey’s solo song "Don’t Forget the Cambo Sound", an original English-language rap tune that aims to promote the Kingdom’s fledgling recording industry.
Visal said: “It talks a lot about promoting the local music and sound, and not forgetting about the old. It’s quite important for me.”
"Don’t Forget the Cambo Sound" will be filmed in a Phnom Penh factory, the management of which has agreed to rent out the space for only $100. The gritty, concrete industrial environment will be juxtaposed with Apsara dancers on set, Visal added.
Producer Iv Mout said the videos, which are 391 Films in-house productions, have been a “piece of cake” to shoot.
“It’s our idea, so we have control over everything. With clients, we do what they want – if they want changes, we have to respect their guidelines. That is more difficult.”
Past clients for 391 Films’ commercial shoots include Cellcard and ANZ Royal. The company also produced last year’s comedy crime feature film Gems on the Run under Visal’s direction
The Saravan Rok Ku music video, sponsored by Sabay Digital Corporation and which True Face provided the location for at no charge, will be freely available online and is not expected to turn a profit.
“This is the passionate side of our company. We do what we like and what we feel is creative for us,” Mout said.
However, as 391 Films’ profits subsidise the KlapYaHandz label, Mout said that it is important to strike a balance between their creative and commercial endeavours.
“391 is a money-making company, so we focus on that and the clients because we have to pay the staff. We’re not trying to be rich, but we gotta pay the bills.”