Khmer Writer Makes Film Debut with “Welcome to Hell”

Nou Sotheavy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – A new production company, VCine Pictures, is currently producing an original story written by award-winning author and songwriter Sok Chanphal.

As the 2013 winner of the SEA Write Award for Cambodia, Mr. Chanphal has been advocating for the growth of more original stories after the country was left depleted of writers and artists during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Descent into Hell

At 30 years old, the recent audition judge for Cambodian Idol is no stranger to the whims of popular trends among the Kingdom’s youth. 

Based on a short story he wrote in a collection of horror stories, the film’s script is a romantic ghost comedy. The film, “Welcome to Hell,” follows a young man who is writing a horror script for a movie. During his research, he stumbles upon a cellphone with a direct connection to Hell. 

Through a phone call, arrangements are made for the curious writer to visit Hell in spirit form, where he meets a pretty ghost who guides him through the rest of his journey. As they travel, however, something is amiss in the strange limbo of horrors. Love blossoms, secrets are revealed, and hilarity ensues as an Orpheus-style tale emerges.
“I had to come up with new creatures as the director wanted new kinds of ghosts rather than to stick with the traditional ghosts that are often used in ghost movies,” Mr. Chanphal explained. 

He hopes that by developing his characters in an offbeat story about love, the film will entertain and interest audiences to want to watch more Cambodian films. 

Khmer Originals

Questioned on his views of foreign films dominating cinemas in Cambodia, Mr. Chanphal said he believes that censoring international films so that local films can profit is unwise. “We can learn from international talent to quickly increase the quality of Khmer films,” he said. 

Observing how Korean dramas and films have slowly been winning popularity with Cambodians, the soft-spoken writer wondered how Cambodia can create its own look in their name. 

“As an industry we need to challenge ourselves and give Cambodian films and television a signature on the international level,” he said. 

Breaking the Mold

Hoping to break away from the red tape of the bigger but limiting production companies, Mr. Chanphal has teamed up with long-time friend and director Ly Vet, along with fellow professionals who have also worked in television and music production, to create their own production company. 

Although this will be his first time directing, Mr. Vet has worked on many music videos and commercials and feels ready to tackle the film industry with an unique story targeted at a Cambodian audience. 

The company has already confirmed rising actors Chhet Sovannpanha and John Alexora for the two main characters. Original music is being made for the film.

The film’s release is set for late October as post production is still underway. They have yet to find a distributor.

Mr. Chanphal has been writing lyrics for Hang Meas since 2009 and has published three short novels: Gentleman’s Love (2009), Winter Love (2010) and The Tale of the Lamp (2011).  

The last is about a quirky ghost story competition that takes place in Toul Sleng detention center, better known as S-21.

To view the teaser for “Welcome to Hell” go to:

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