How a British filmmaker saved a Thai orchestra with The Maestro

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A British filmmaker from Thailand saved a Thai youth orchestra by making a horror film.

Many years ago, when he was only nine years old, Paul Spurrier appeared in Granada TV’s Victorian Scandals.

He said: “It was right after Minnie Caldwell left Coronation Street and I remember visiting the set and seeing her at her house,”

That’s why he wanted Messenger readers to know how his new movie saved a struggling orchestra.

Paul first visited Thailand almost by chance.

He said: “In 1999 a friend asked me if I could help with a documentary. His name was Clever Dicks, about intelligent animals and they wanted to feature a Thai elephant.

“It was the holiday season. No one from the BBC wanted to go, so I accepted and it changed my life.

Paul fell in love with Thailand and has lived there for almost 20 years.

He was the first Westener to shoot a Thai language film with ‘P’ in 2004, soon followed by The Forest and Eullenia which can be viewed on Amazon Prime.

When Covid struck, Paul worried about the Siam Sinfonetta, a youth orchestra that had performed in New York, Prague, Berlin and Bayreuth.

He said: “The blockages have made public performances and rehearsals illegal and Zoom does not work for orchestras.

The orchestra’s founder, Somtow Sucharitkul, worried about the mental health of his musicians.

He discussed their fate with Paul and they discovered a loophole. Rehearsals, performances and recordings were legal if they were part of a television or film production.

Paul and Somtow raised funds with the help of seasoned Thai supporters and actors and The Maestro was formed.

Somtow Sucharikul, a prolific composer, was also known as SP Somtow, author of the Rock-and-Roll Vampire series, Vampire Junction and creator of the sci-fi series Mallworld. He agreed to take the lead in the film.

The orchestra not only played over an hour of original music, but also played the role of actors.

The Maestro is about a frustrated composer whose popularity has plummeted.

He can’t find an orchestra to perform his last symphony, so he kidnaps one and ends up going mad.

Paul said, “The film will premiere in Thailand in July. We are all hoping it will be released in the UK.


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