Fast, not furious

Niche filmmaker Nawapol 'Ter' Thamrongrattanarit winks at Hollywood blockbusters while remaining grounded in everyday life

Nat Kitcharit as the veteran sport stacker in Fast And Feel Love. GDH 559

Niche filmmaker Nawapol "Ter" Thamrongrattanarit has a great knack for making small and simple stories into big ones. Most of Nawapol's movies revolve around the daily lives of people in the big city. In 2015, Nawapol defined his first major studio film Heart Attack as "a routine life of a freelance graphic designer". Or Happy Old Year, a high drama film from 2019 in which he simply replied in an interview: "A story about home reorganisation." But most Nawapol fans know that those movies are more profound than the simple definition of the director.

And again with his latest movie Fast And Feel Love, which premiered in Thai cinemas last week, Nawapol described it as his "very first action film", and is based on the daily life of people aged 30-plus. It's clearly a comedy. Even the title and its font obviously poke fun at a Hollywood blockbuster: Fast And Feel Love (Fast And Furious, get it?).

Fast And Feel Love is a mix of romance, comedy and sports movie. It also introduces viewers to sport stacking, a popular cup game that involves stacking cups in pre-determined sequences as fast as possible. The premise follows Gao (Nat Kitcharit), a 30-year-old sport stacking champion who is being challenged by the younger generation while preparing for an international competition. He also finds himself distracted by day-to-day banalities and a fallout with his girlfriend Jay (Urassaya "Yaya" Sperbund).

Director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit. GDH 559

GDH 559 film studio recently hosted a press conference and the premiere of Fast And Feel Love on April 6 at CentralWorld where Nawapol appeared alongside Nat, Urassaya, and the team of actors including Anusara Korsamphan, Wipawee Patnasiri, Keetapat Pongruea and Kanokwan Butrachart. Life caught up with Nawapol at a roundtable interview where the director told us about the ideas behind his new film and how much his art imitates life.

Can you explain why you describe your new movie as action?

Well, at first I really wanted to make a 'superhero' movie. But I want to tell a superhero story that doesn't need superpower abilities. I want it to be a story of a normal person living everyday life, but with special skills that can intrigue people. So I started looking into the lives of athletes. Until I found this sport called sport stacking or speed stacks, and this fascinated me enough to write a story about it.

Nat Kitcharit and Urassaya 'Yaya' Sperbund in Fast And Feel Love. GDH 559

What do you particularly like about sport stacking?

Actually, at the start we had a lot of different sports in mind, but sport stacking gave me a feeling, that it feels like a superpower. The competition is won at high speed. They win or lose in a split second. The sport stacking record is 4.753 seconds. While these people were in a stacking contest, sometimes the video footage was blurry. It was so fast that it couldn't catch the real image. So I found it pretty cool. And the more I studied, the more I felt that it was a good match for the script I wrote.

Is it true that parts of the film were inspired by personal experience?

Yes, and so are most of my movies. When writing scripts, it's easier for me to look for material and stories from the lives around me. And like in this story, it tells a story about the life of people in their 30s. I'm turning 38 this year. This is the time when we start to feel that as we are getting older, the responsibilities in life also increase as well. People start to have no time to chase their own dreams, because there are problems in daily life, and many other duties that must be held accountable. I brought up this story because I thought it might be interesting. And I've never seen anyone think of making a movie like this before.

 

GDH 559

There are a few scenes in Fast And Feel Love that are mockery or intended to look like scenes from some of Hollywood's big movies. Was it your intention to make a parody movie?

I get asked a lot if I intended to make a comedy parody movie in the style of Scary Movie [2000], but it's not like that at all. I'd rather call it an homage to all the films that I like. Actually, those scenes are more like interesting additions, but Fast And Feel Love definitely has its own story.

Aside from the films that have been made so far, fans know you have also directed many commercial projects. With Fast And Feel Love, how much is the result of working in the advertising industry?

Possibly it may feel like a commercial that got stretched into a feature length presentation. But most of all, Fast And Feel Love is a film where I tried to think outside the box. Although they usually include some funny bits, the movies I've done so far are mostly heavy dramas. And I think I've been doing that for a decade already. As a creative worker, I wanted to try out something new and completely different from the stuff I've done in the past. I also believe that artists, whether they are filmmakers, songwriters or musicians, have their own different moods and angles, whether drama, comedy or action.

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