Pich Sophorn is a familiar face at the film academy started by French NGO Pour un Sourire d’ Enfant (PSE).
An assistant director for three short films produced by the NGO, he is getting ready to make his debut in the Cambodian film industry.
The project is centred on the rebuilding of Cambodia in the 1980s after the Khmer Rouge era. The script will be completed in January and filming should start in May next year. It has an estimated budget of US$10,000 and is aimed at the international market.
Pich Sophorn, 33, from Kampong Chhnang province, is the son of a journalist and was a French teacher before moving to Phnom Penh and joining PSE in 2003.
During his tenure in the NGO he became the manager of production for audiovisual content and learned the trade of filmmaking including video editing and script writing before embarking on his own project.
According to Sophorn, right now the only profitable Cambodian productions are romance or ghost stories. “I want to change that,” he said. “If movies like mine prove they can be financially successful, the main studios will change their ways.”
Sophorn is not aiming to get revenue from the Cambodian market, but overseas.
“Sadly, the audience here is still not prepared for this kind of film,” he said.
He still plans to release his movie nationally but he acknowledges it will be at a loss. “The key [for revenue] is to submit the movie to international festivals and cater to the international market interested in Cambodian films,” he said.
According to Sophorn, Cambodia’s film industry still demands a very low budget by Western standards. A project of this magnitude should have a budget of $200,000. Still, Sophorn said he would be lucky to collect $10,000. The money is coming from his personal savings and family. He is also pursuing international donors.
Most of the costs will pay for equipment. The type of camera that Sophorn wants to use, a Nikon 660, costs $3,000 and a Macintosh computer for editing the film will be approximately $1,000.
“This is an independent project completely separate from PSE and thus, we need to acquire our own equipment,” said Sophorn.
To contact the reporter on this story: Javier D Yepes at [email protected]