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Phenomena - 'Tor' Sornsrivichai

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Issue #4 - Interviews

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ph051-w225The Gunn Report named him as the year's most awarded director in the world on five separate occasions.

is base in Bangkok, Phenomena, was also deemed by Gunn to be the most awarded production house in the world.

Considering his frenetic schedule, Tor's laid-back, laconic manner belies the intensity of being one of the most sought after directors in Asia.

Fresh from winning the 2009 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival Palme d'Or, we caught up with Thailand's Thanonchai 'Tor' Sornsrivichai in between takes to ask him where it goes from here.

Agency.Asia: Not that you needed any reminding, but you'd have to be pleased about your team winning at Cannes and that Phenomena is consistently seen as the best shop globally. There are plenty of sound business reasons to enter awards, but is it possible when you've won so many to become blasé and tire of them at the same time?

Sornsrivichai: Yes!

Agency.Asia: Do you involve yourself heavily in the business of running Phenomena, say, more than going to pre-production meetings or pitching creative?

Sornsrivichai: Yes, I do. I am interesting in improving quality in the people and create inspiration for the others. I want to encourage my people to work as fast as they can, at their best and highly effective. I also want to encourage my people to be a better person by think less of themselves and think more for others.

Agency.Asia: You'll no doubt have seen in the news that Procter & Gamble revealed that they are in the process of pre-selecting production houses that its agencies will be expected to use globally. Word on the street is that many companies such as Reckitt Benkiser will follow suit. What's your understanding of the situation and its ramifications, assuming that you wish to comment on such a sensitive topic?


Sornsrivichai: It's difficult to find good stuff at low-priced in this world. Let say if you try to buy a Louis Vuitton bag at 10$ you won't get a Louis Vuitton. When you pay 10$ for a bag, you will get a 10$ worth of a bag and a 10$ quality.

And one more thing that I 'd like to say is one group of people especially those who are always wearing tie and suit and spend most of their times meeting in a tiny meeting room can't think and set things for the rest of the world. Different countries in this world have different culture, different way of thinking, and different history, they should respect that.

Agency.Asia: Obviously there's a crew toiling behind the scenes to assist your stable of directors. Are there any hard and fast rules that you feel has brought the company success? Being from Thailand, so we'd hazard a guess that having fun is rule #1.

Sornsrivichai: Yes!! Having fun is rule no. 1!!! But what makes the company success is the team. We have a strong and very committed teamwork who are happy to their job and to work with each other. The most important thing to me is to make them dare to think, dear to create new idea, and always be happy with their work.

Agency.Asia: You're self-taught. You started your career after graduating as an architect and then spent time as a graphic designer. How did you make the leap to film - and appreciating how hard that was, are you active in promoting emerging talent? Notwithstanding rule #1, what would be your best advice for budding directors?

Sornsrivichai: You have to read everything that valuable, see everything that valuable, learn everything that valuable and do everything that valuable and best for all. for yourself, for clients, for the society, and for the country.


Agency.Asia: Are there any plans afoot to do feature films, or go back to architecture? We have to ask the question - why did you go long way around by studying that first?

Sornsrivichai: Actually I studies Industrial Design but it's a major in architect faculty. it was not my intention to study it but I didn't know what I should study. For the feature film yes! I want to do is making feature film, being an architect, being an artist, being a painter, making sculpture, being an investor, being a chef, planting trees lots of trees (forest), doing agricultural, all these are things I want to do, and I will do.

Agency.Asia: The advancements in postproduction over the course of any year are amazing. Are you and your DOP purists that insist on using film, or do you feel that digital has reached a point that you're equally comfortable with HD?

Sornsrivichai: No problem. I am very open to new thing. Any additional.


Sornsrivichai: I'd like to say that advertising is like a "shit". If we produce the advertisement that can do just advertising, it's like you put the shit on the concrete floor. But if we create the advertisement that can make highly sale for clients and can also change the way people think to be a positive way. Advertisement becomes an inspiration to the audience to do better thing in their lives. Then, that advertisement is like a shit that you put it on a grass field and it becomes a fertilizer and make the world even better. Advertising will not be just an advertisement.

Agency.Asia: Along with all our guests, when we asked Jureeporn Thaidumrong which person our readers would be most interested to hear from next, she sais, "Who else? My collaborator, and 
Thailand's number one TVC Director, Thanonchai 'Tor' Sornsrivichai, always has a very fresh way of seeing things." So, she will be pleased. Thanks very much for giving this interview at ridiculously short notice. Wherever you go from here, may the force continue to be with you. So, who would you like to pick?

Sornsrivichai: I am really sorry. I don't know. I work very hard I don't know so many people.


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