The following story is from 2014 when Cambodian Productions main fixer, Richard John Currie, was working with a different production company on the project below.
There are hundreds of television shows available to audiences today and producers struggle to come up with original concepts which will entice people to tune in every week. The creators of “50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy” have certainly come up with an original concept that keeps the audience hooked every week. Take a mother and son team, let them travel the world together and allow them to participate in a series of adventurous activities which will test the mother’s longevity. Burning Bright Productions are the creative team behind the popular television show and for the second series they wanted to look at exotic locations in SE Asia, mainly Cambodia.
When I was initially contacted by Burning Bright Productions they expressed an interest in Cambodia but were unsure exactly what activities could be filmed for the new episode. Upon reading the brief, which included a list of adventures that the mother and son duo participated in during the last series, I met with my team and started to discuss ideas. BBP gave us one piece of guidance for the activities; be as adventurous as possible and try not to rule anything out. Cambodia is a country which oozes adventure and excitement so the suggestions came thick and fast, within ten minutes we had 100 suggestions ranging from feasible to ludicrous. Upon receiving the list BBP narrowed down the suggestions to the activities which would give the most entertaining footage; catching and eating tarantulas in Skuon, driving an army jeep to Phnon Kulen Mountain, scuba diving in Sihanoukville, a zip line through the temples of Angkor Wat and an overnight stay in the wild on Koh Rong Island.
The crew would be not arriving in Cambodia until one month after we first established the activities so we had plenty of time to plan for the shoot. The scenes to be filmed at Phnom Kulen Mountain (Siem Reap) called for a location permit, which we organized through the Ministry of Information, and the use of an army jeep for the mother and son to travel in. Coincidently the organization that I worked with had recently purchased an army jeep to be used for a previous production so we had it driven up north ready for the shoot. Flight of the Gibbons is a Siem Reap based company which has a series of zip lines which go through the Angkor Wat Temple Complex. A filming permission was organized with them so we could feature the zip lines in the television show. For the scenes to be filmed in Skoun (a small province just north of Phnom Penh) we enlisted the help of a local woman who breeds and catches tarantulas for a living. She was able to advice on the exact locations where the spiders could be caught on camera and help us cook them for the mother and son to feast on. The scuba diving activity required the help of a professional diving company based in Sihanoukville to help ensure that there was no risk of the mother and son being in danger during filming. We arranged for the diving company to do a training session in a swimming pool so they would feel more comfortable with the scuba equipment and the underwater environment. Whilst the crew were in Koh Rong they wanted to film the mother and son experiencing a night surviving in the wild on a secluded part of the island. Our team were able to enlist the assistance of a survival expert who would teach the duo survival skills that would help them endure the experience, this included building a camp fire and cooking food in the wild.
There were several filming locations spread all across Cambodia, and the crew were only on the ground for 10 days, so it was very important that we planned the transportation very carefully. Great care was taken when planning the shooting schedule to ensure that the crew could maximise their filming time at each location and not be stuck in the vehicle wasting valuable filming time. We supplied large land cruisers, instead of the traditional mini vans, which have lots of room for equipment and can move quickly from location to location. Once the crew arrived in Cambodia the shoot was executed like a military operation proving once again that if you plan efficiently in advance then the production will be smooth and trouble free.
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