We had the good fortune of connecting with Pongkarnda “Kik” Udomprasert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pongkarnda “Kik”, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is a crucial part of life in all regards. From the moment you start interacting with your parents as a child, you’re testing things. Do I drop the spoon or do I not drop the spoon? If I do it, will they get upset or will they listen to what I want? The key is if you don’t test it, you’ll never find out. You’ll never learn. My career choice itself calls for intense risk-taking. There is no set path to becoming a director, so the wheels are constantly turning in my head. What do I do, what steps should I take, who do I reach out to today, should I make that big ask or should I wait another month? It’s like going into a pitch black room and blindly grabbing at air until you find a way out the other side. If you’re scared, you have 2 safe choices, sit still and safe or back out the way you came, but neither of those choices will move you forward. So despite my sweating profusely and feeling numb in the face of these risks, I welcome them. They will pass, and they always teach me something.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a director. Coming from Thailand, a culture responsible for many emotional commercials widely shared on social media, my stories are heavily influenced by these strong emotional truths and the slower pacing of Asian cinema. Perspective storytelling is my strong suit. Watching my film, the audience is guaranteed to share the main character’s journey and all the feelings that come with it. Believing in dialogue to achieve change and understanding, my stories tend to end on a reconciliatory note regardless of how strongly the stories as a whole put up their arguments. I don’t believe there is one career path that’s easy to walk on. If you want to become somewhat successful at anything, it is going to be a challenge getting there. For me, the biggest hurdle is within. Artists are experts at questioning themselves, so it’s almost always scary to take all the risks required on the way to becoming a worthy one. Before turning out a new draft of your script, you spend minutes or hours hovering over the send button, going through all the possible criticisms you’d get. Before submitting to any programs or fellowships, you sit there, then get up and pace around, asking yourself about what makes you good enough to go for it. In the end, it’s just a matter of standing up for yourself and what you have to say, and coming to the realization that you are good enough–or that even if you’re not spectacular just yet, putting your work out there now will give you the tools you need to improve yourself. The biggest lesson I carry with me nowadays is “If you don’t risk getting a no, you’re also not in a position to get a yes.” People often forget this, myself included. We’re so afraid of getting rejected that we just hide in our cave so we won’t get hurt. But hey… what’s wrong with a no, really? It hurts a little… Okay, it hurts a lot most of the time, but if you’re down for a game of roulette, why wouldn’t you be down for a yes or no question? It’s a 50/50 chance. That’s a much higher shot. There’s nothing in particular I want the world to know about my story. But I am waiting for the day we minorities are given more voice. Every single person sees the world a little differently. A minority voice telling American stories would definitely diversify our long-standing media perspective. In this era of globalization, the game should no longer be about who gets to maintain power. It should be about what we can learn from each other.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If it’s their first time in the city, definitely all of the touristy things are up front–Hollywood Blvd, Santa Monica beach, a drive through BV, a walk on Rodeo Drive, etc. Because without these, they haven’t gotten to LA, haven’t they? Then the real stuff begins. One breakfast joint I think you absolutely shouldn’t miss is BBCM on Sunset. The food is delicious, but also, the colorful lattes they have are so aesthetically pleasing! Met Her At A Bar is bomb as well. If we’re going a little north, then Aroma Café is an absolute must. Can’t really have too much breakfast… For any other food-related things, Bon Vivant in Atwater Village’s got sick vibe, great appetizers, unique tea variety, and some awesome wine selections. If you’re a fan of Hawaiian food, most poke places are good as well, but my favorite is an hour drive away in Orange. The place is called Poke District. Absolute gold. If you’ve saved up for a fancy meal, spend it at Otium in downtown LA. Their dishes all got amazing blends of flavors and textures. It’s a real experience. For ice cream…. It’s a long list. Salt & Straw, Wanderlust, Saffron & Rose, you name it. They’re all amazing. I’d take a drive down the PCH too. The view coming back to LA from Malibu is to die for. There’s a painfully short strip around Sunset Point where you can street park and walk down to the blissfully uncrowded beach that we can make a stop. If you’re not bothered by the drive, Goff Island Cove in Laguna is beautiful. I shot one of my films there. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, go to Six Flags and try the very violent X2. It’s terrifyingly addictive. I used to repeat it 4 times and got a nosebleed waking up the next morning. So, don’t do that. Once or twice is probably just the right amount. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m dedicating my shoutout to a select list of wonderfulness, which means there are countless more outside of it, but here’s to hoping that I’ll have more stage to give thanks to the rest of them one day. I’d like to first thank my mom, whose unconventionally progressive ideologies and unwaveringly positive spirit have supported me through the countless endeavors I’ve taken so far. Thank you for being my best friend. The Harry Potter books, of course, are a given. They’ve armed my world with solid imagination, compassion, and magic. Without them, I may have taken a starkly different path in life. Thank you as well, to my first ever internship supervisors at A Grand Elephant Production, for the love, care, and wisdom you’ve given, and for helping to solidify my passion for filmmaking. My grad school friends, you all know who you are. Thank you for being by my side, for being my partners in crime, and for constantly pushing me to be the best version of myself. Your friendship is an honor. And lastly, for now, I’d like to thank my late mentor, Harry Ufland, for being a champion for excellence. Until today, I am glad I didn’t drop your so very intimidating class several years ago.