We all love movies. We all love how the scenes we see in the big screen or in our television perfectly depict our lives. We all love how fiction stories do not seem too fictional at all. Well, we have screenplay writers to thank for that; and Cambodia is lucky to have a talented bunch. Count Mao Chanraksmey in.
Chanraksmey, who is only 24 years old, has been using her scripts to depict the realities of the world; to tell people stories that are relevant and essential; to influence others to move forward and drive change.
“I am a screenplay writer in Cambodia. Writing films allows me to walk into the wild lives of other people and feel their journey,” said Chanraksmey in a recent interview with Youth Today. She added that films she write give her strength and inspiration in dealing with her own life.
“Writing and leading different characters in the film require me to dive deep into my emotions to feel and understand other people’s lives, to know what it feels to be different. For example, what I would do if I live in a situation where I have to fight when hindrances abound and I am being knocked down by others? Or, how should I respond to the setbacks caused by other people? It’s very tricky, but it has widened my perspective as well.”
Having been writing for seven years now, Chanraksmey considers her chosen career as a privileged platform and a powerful instrument to influence other people’s lives and the society in general.
“The films I write are about every aspect of life – romance, action, horror, thrill, history, mystery and the likes. Every topic gives a different message and has a different impact on people. All films influence people.
“For instance in Cambodia, a historical movie will tell you about what had happened in the past. The movie will show you how people lived years or decades ago, and how the society has changed over the years. It can be a source of knowledge, especially to young people.”
However, Chanraksmey also admits that films may also deliver negative messages and in effect may give negative impact to the society.
“There are also contents that portray about many forms of abuse, which may instill violence to the young audiences if they are not guided. Therefore, as a screenwriter myself, I carry the responsibility to produce contents that cast positive influence to people and the community.”
Chanraksmey’s greatest films to date include Fool princess; Hello teacher!; Noly Nola; Maiden vs youngster; The debtor; Menu of love; Tale of the weaver; Peacock dancer.
And there’s really no need to wonder why she is a genius in her craft. Chanraksmey is the only daughter of the Kingdom’s most respected and notable writer, Mao Samnang. It is Chanraksmey’s goal to make good stories for the Cambodian moviegoers, just like how her mother has written good novels for the local readers.
“When you choose where your journey is leading you, you have to give all your best,” Chanraksmey shared. “I am dedicating my whole dreams to film writing not because of title or money, but because it is my ultimate passion and because I value the significance of the film industry as a tool to enrich people’s lives. Through my stories, I am able to unleash hidden stories and turn them into great films that people can see and experience.”
As she continues to pursue her passion, Chanraksmey is stepping up on the scripts she writes. She bravely addresses social concerns and issues through her words, and encourage harmony in facing such dilemmas.
“Movies impact cultures by reflecting the values and ideas that already exist within a given culture and by suggesting new cultural possibilities. For instance, a movie might have the power to address issues concerning sexism within society in a way that allows audiences to see events and situations within their own lives in a new light, thereby producing cultural change.
“In a different scenario, a science fiction film could suggest possibilities for future technologies or systems of social organisation that do not yet exist. Inspired members of the audience might take these fictional images and attempt to make them a reality.”
Chanraksmey, with her pure love for filmmaking, said she’s seeing herself staying in the industry. And even if she already knows how chaotic the industry can get, she draws inspiration from the very person who encouraged her to write.
Mao Samnang once wrote, “Walk on a path that liberalises your heart, and in whatever you do, shower people with empathy and compassion”. And Chanraksmey has this line in mind every time she pens her stories.