The Cinematographer of ‘Thirteen lives’ gave the camera to actors

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom – he walks by “Sayo”Luca Guadagnino has been a beloved cinematographer for the past two decades.“Call Me By Your Name,” “Suspiria”) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”).

Mukdeeprom was faced with one of the most difficult challenges in his professional life. “Thirteen Lives,” He collaborated with Ron Howard for the first time.

The 2018 drama of the unbelievable story about 12 boys and their coach, who were trapped in a cave filled with water. “Thirteen Lives” is set entirely in Mukdeeprom’s native Thailand — though the movie was actually filmed, apart from a few establishing shots, in sets created on the Gold Coast of Australia.

“Actually the whole thing was all a set that had been built for us,” Mukdeeprom shared. “Which was an amazing thing to see. So we created the environment and we put all of our actors extras in it. It was all a controlled situation, including the rain, which was all done with machines. At the very beginning, I told my camera crew to expect to get very wet. We needed the feeling that we were really in the rain, since it was the rain that caused the flooding in the cave.”

This film shows the huge effort put into rescuing the coach and the boys. Like the true story, British cave divers John Volanthen (Colin Farrell), and Richard Stanton(Viggo Mortensen) greatly helped in rescue. Also, an Australian anesthesiologist Joel Edgerton was also involved. (If you aren’t familiar with the true story, you don’t want to know the reason why an anesthesiologist was needed.)

Nine days after the two boys entered the cave, Volanthen and Stanton found the boys still alive. Farrell and Mortensen were both certified by SCUBA to perform underwater scenes.

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Mukdeeprom was asked if he would do the same. “No, no, no, no, no,” He smiled and waved his hand, waving his hands. “When I was younger I’d worked as an underwater camera assistant, but I’d abandoned that for 30 years. We have camera operators who were able to do those things.”

However, there were certain shots in the film during which space in the cave was so tight that another camera operator couldn’t fit in the scene. “So then, the actors handled the camera as they were in the space,” Mukdeeprom. “This happened many times. The spaces were small enough that we could only fit one or two people inside.”

He mentioned to Mortensen that he’d chat with Farrell regarding the requirements of his job. “Mostly I just told them simple things, like too much to the left, too much to the right,” He stated. “We all had this feeling that the camera should not exist in the movie. We wanted to let the action drive the story forward, but not the camera, so I would tell them that. For the most part, we had some funny talks with each other every day, as colleagues do. Making movies is a long process.”

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Mukdeeprom also expressed appreciation for Howard’s professional relationship. “Ron is a great storyteller but at the same time he’s a great leader. He’s like a chef. He listens to everyone on the set in order to make the best film. And he loves to talk about movies, which is always a great conversation.”

He was done with his job. “Thirteen Lives,” Mukdeeprom reunited with Guadagnino’s for the Italian director’s next feature, the tennis-tour set “Challengers,” starring Zendaya, Mike Faist, and Josh O’Connor. “We’re all done filming and color grading the movie now,” He stated. “But I don’t know when it’s coming out. I hope soon.”

As a Thai citizen, Mukdeeprom felt privileged to photograph a story that’s so inspirational in the recent history of the country. “Since it happened in the country where I live, the emotional effect was quite big,” He stated. “In life, hard-working people can do a lot of things that seem like a miracle.”

He continued, “Things that look like a miracle are often done by human hands.” Farrell and Mortensen probably would agree.

“Thirteen Lives” Amazon Prime is the best place to stream it.

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