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The Journey of F4 Thailand

Patha Thongpan

Posted on Sunday, April 17, 2022 at 4:09 AM

#F4thailand has been ended for a week, but every sediment still remained in my head. Till today I still sat down, looked at the old photos and found out that, "Right, how couldn’t it still remain? We've been through a damn lot like this."

So I want to talk about it a bit.

[@BrightInterfan]

No matter what other people say, this project is such a miracle for us.


Who would have believed that for such a small production house like Parbdee, we would one day be approached and asked, “I bought the rights to remake F4, do you want to do it?”


Who would have believed that someone would dare to dust off an old legend of a story with dated elements that are no longer acceptable in this era in order to do another remake?


And to do it in a developing country, a country where the drama industry was not very strong yet. No matter how you looked at it, this remake from the start would be inferior compared to past adaptations. Just the budget alone was so many times smaller.


[@BeLight_21]

Who would have believed that, upon thinking it over for several nights, I would freaking come to think that this project was doable? There were still angles to the story that had never been told and it fit perfectly… But the journey of the project was such a cruel one.


It was like we saw the path but it was through hundreds of needles, each of which had to be threaded carefully. Failure to thread any one of them could perhaps kill the project.


And who would have believed that in the end, we had to sit and talk before saying “All right, let’s do it”?


[@BeLight_21]

That was what happened at the end of 2019.

Jump to the present…

Everything was as expected. In fact, it was much more than expected. Working on this large scale came with so many challenges and the work process which was multiple fold more difficult. With the Covid, the difficulty was even doubled.


The budget became the most difficult challenge as feared. The budget has already been higher than typical budgets of normal Thai series, but nothing compared to what the audience would expect from the series. So the disaster did happen. 90% of the work-related headaches were caused by budget limitations. How to make the production look expensive? How to do it through camera angles? Every magic trick of the trade I have ever learned over all my life had to be called upon. And this continued to the popups of as many as 36 product tie-ins which came along with brutal conditions, more brutal than every production I had ever done. The requirements were so detailed: which specific actors had to be the ones holding the products, when, at what time, and what their reactions would be. So brutally detailed till it was funny—till we thought that these past two years, we didn’t accept any advertisement work so we could apply our energy for this series. But everything was understandable: this was typical of a Thai series.


[@BeLight_21 & @BrightInterfan]

It was a Thai series that required madness-level creativity to meet all the conditions in order for us to touch the star…

But the best part was that it was a project where everyone truly saw the same North Star.

Regardless of which version each team member experienced or whether they had ever worked with me before, as soon as we were on this project, everyone had a clear picture that F4 Thailand must be the best it could be. Many times I felt very discouraged and wanted to let things pass. But it was the team that told me “Hey, bro, but this is F4”—like I was whipped into shape to keep fighting. Ha ha ha ha.

[@BeLight_21]

📃

From the script room where we almost fought to death: this scene must be kept, that act cannot disappear. Even we had asked to expand from 13 EPs 4 breaks each to 16 EPs 5 breaks, still it was not enough. Nobody thought that we’d have to take hundreds of iconic scenes and chopped them up finely, reordered them, glued them back together and adjusted the story graph, and that the process would be this difficult and time consuming. We had to throw away all our prior knowledge of script writing because the work process for this series was the opposite of what we had done. From back to front, then front to back and then back to front one more time. We lost count of how many times we changed back and forth. Themes had to be kept, gimmicks must also be included. This was so damn crazy.

[@BeLight_21]

🎬

The production was an epic marathon–one day is not enough to share the whole story —the DP (director of photography) changed; assistant directors tag-teaming. What we never thought it would happen happened. Not to mention Team B, led by P'Mui, who had to shoot at the same time as another team because we really didn’t have enough time for shooting after Covid. The (film production) management team had to face hundreds of challenges every day. During Covid break, we had to redo the schedule every week. At that time, if you could still remember, the government didn’t have any clear plan. Our plan to film in Singapore couldn’t happen. Scripts had to be revised again and again. Because of the many changes back and forth that dragged on for so long, several people had to leave mid-project and others left after the project ended. This was always what made my heart drop. But every time I looked back at the old photos, I missed every bro and sis so much. We have really fought to the best of our abilities. I love everyone so much.

One thing I noticed when I looked back at old photos during the shooting was that I was very stressed, looking like I was about to get killed all the time. And I also found that everyone around me tried to help bring back positive ambiences without me noticing, for which I’m so grateful. Thank you and sorry for sending off a stressful aura. I promise I’ll try to improve.

[@BeLight_21]

🖥

Then the work was passed on to the post-production room, another big team that I love the best and felt the guiltiest toward.


Just that the graphic team had to help prepare stuff for the shooting was hellish enough; then there were so many revisions after revisions, from company logo to Mira’s billboard with uncountable number of drafts. Graphic work after editing was also significant, from erasing pimples, reflections, boom mic and water bottles (who freaking left them there?), to manifesting rain and creating city-scape. But after the work was done, I felt so delighted. Everything looked very, very beautiful: all the graphics, titles, posters. Decades from now, I believe I’d still love it.


And the editing – Trust me, this was our top form, truly.


During the first shooting queues, I tried to warn the team that this project would be difficult to edit because good footage could be deep in hiding. Over ten takes worth of footage might yield just one second within Take four and another two seconds from Take nine. These would be combined while the rest had to be thrown away. But the good stuff was magical. It didn’t happen often but when it did, it was really just wow.


And to think that editing the footages from later shooting queues would be easier, to the contrary, it was more difficult because we had to shoot in a hurry even more than before.


That was just about the footages. A remake does have difficulties on its own, which I was not mentally prepared for. What made it difficult was two folds: viewers can guess the plot and we didn’t have sufficient airtime. These two factors caused us to edit again and again, like going through a trial and error process hundreds of times. Sometimes, the EP was entirely edited but when we sat and watched the whole thing, we decided to redo it all – the story graph was not quite right; too speedy; damn! five minutes later the viewers are supposed to laugh but they still haven’t recovered from the sad scene; or damn, it was fun but so cliché, so damn bland, how to insert some red herrings to trick the audience?


Every musical score in hand had to be deconstructed into individual parts and rearranged and assembled. If I recall correctly, each OST had over 30 musical instrumental sounds. So crazy. On top of that, each character has his/her own set of scores too.


All these were done for the benefit of one word: (story) graph. This word was spoken in the editing room very, very, very, very often. But every time we could change from “This is bad. I'm sorry, I couldn’t make this EP turn out well (as hoped)” to “Shit! Now it’s fun,” that was an awesome feeling.


Thank you for everyone’s best effort. Everyone did have (his/her own) bloody exhausted moments, especially during the curve of EPs 9-12, which I was in blur and hardly cope with it because the series had started airing while we hadn’t finished shooting yet. This meant that non-shooting days = (mean) reviewing the edits; otherwise, the tape would not be sent in time. I never imagined before that in this life there would be moments which I would have to stand to review edits, because if I sat, I’d fall asleep. With the last curve, EP 16, of J who happened to come down with Covid.. you were the last person of this project who whipped fighting spirit back into me again, even though I was actually so very discouraged. Thank you very much. It was a very beautiful opening for EP 1 and beautiful closing for EP 16.. But no more of these ever again.. Way too brutal~ Ha ha ha ha ha.

And that was it.. the very long journey that resulted into F4 that everyone has seen.


[@BeLight_21 & @ShiningThailand]

Sh... f'k long!

But after settling the whole story through many events and various buzz and trends, one thing I really want to tell the whole team is: Keep your heads up. You guys are really great. And this is the best F4 that a small Thai team was able to produce. And we are truly so proud of this work. And the most that matters is that, a group of viewers feels the same way as we do with this work.

Everyone knows this is not a perfect piece of work. If the project was like needles, there were some that we were eventually not able to thread through. But in the end, many viewers know that the series was really packed full with love and devotion.

And who would have believed that one day there would be so many people from all over the world who came to tell us that this is the version of F4 that they love the most?

Who would have believed it?...

But we did it!

Really thankful to everyone.

☄️

#F4Thailand

[@BeLight_21 & @ShiningThailand]


And from here it will be an inclusive thanks to all the parties.​

- Thanks to Yoko Kamio Sensei and Shueisha for creating this story. I came back and reread it completely once again and it’s no surprise that this manga has made people love this long, and thank you for entrusting us with the adjustments in every part.


- GMMTV, P’Tha, P’Da, P’Ako, P’X, and P’Ja, who believes in Parbdee. I'm out of power already. After this, let me train and groom new directors first. Ha ha ha ha.


[Note: There are a lot more mentioned. We will continue working on this part later]

[@BrightInterfan]

- Thanks to every group of fans of Nong Nong (actors and actresses) for the encouragement sent to us ever since we hadn't even started filming yet. I'm sorry that sometimes I forgot to say thanks. On the day that I was on the filming set, I could have been really busy, plus that the filming set had a lot of secrets. But I'm always delighted for Nong Nong that you guys gave them positive energy to the fullest.

- Thanks to everyone who stopped by in my life. Many people swooped in to give encouragement from the outside circle. Many people who saw me looking like a corpse showed their concerns, listened to the vent, or told me the feedback. Everyone has given me the strength to keep this project going until today. Really thank you and sorry that I might have caused you troubles over these years.

- Finally, to all the actors and actresses who came to visit this set (i.e., those who starred in this series), all the extras, the supporting characters, and all the main characters.


- Let me talk about all the supporting characters first. I feel very blessed to meet everyone, both seniors and juniors. Many people showed up just a little but had to spit fire and release power. Everyone gave his/her all wholeheartedly to the max. I feel very fortunate that on that day we picked you guys because we believed all of you could do it. It might be scrappy and stumbling, but in the end you guys really did it. I'm glad every time I see feedback praising you guys. It's so heart-fluttering.

- And the F4, Bright, Win, Dew, Nani and the two girls, Tu and Prim, meeting you guys was such a wonderful moment. Yes, it was super exhausting, with the project which has been dragged on for such a long time and your faces kept floating into my thoughts for 24 hours. Those were both ultimate pressure and bonds. I want you guys to collect this good experience, review everything along the way and then turn back to continue your journey with stability, integrity and grace, because this project is definitely a life experience that you can't find ever again. Trust me and all the crew. Everyone has really fought until the last drop to make the audience love you all, love every character in this story.


And it has succeeded.

Thank you very much for being Thyme, Kavin, Ren, MJ, Gorya, and Kaning. All of you guys have created very awesome memories in my life in different ways. And if it weren’t you guys, there was no way that it would be the F4 Thailand like this.

Good luck on the path ahead of you and whether we will work together again or not, I believe you will never stop growing and I bless you with pure and beautiful growth.


Love


Oh


[@BrightInterfan]