Strike action ripples across Pacific



BANGKOK, Thailand -- Ripples from the writers strike in Hollywood are beginning to be felt in Asia as at least two projects scheduled to shoot in Thailand have been put on hold, affecting hundreds of local actors and crew members.

Leading the films to fall victim is Oliver Stone's "Pinkville," which details the infamous My Lai massacre of a village in Vietnam by American soldiers in 1968. Production was slated to begin in early December but was suspended indefinitely on Nov. 18.

"Obviously, everyone is quite upset, it was quite a blow when we were told," Santa Pestonji, the film's local production supervisor, said. "We had about 350 people ready to go. No one is sure yet what exactly will happen. We're all hoping for the best."

Along with a significant number of local crew members, there are several dozen Thailand-based actors who were hoping to share the screen with the likes of Woody Harrelson, Michael Pena and Bruce Willis.

"After years of hustling, I was hoping this was going to be the role to launch me out of relative obscurity," Troy McFadden, a Bangkok-based actor cast as a member of the U.S. military, said. "I haven't given up hope that the project will recover, but I'm struggling with disappointment."

Bangkok-based casting agent Kaprice Kea, who had several dozen actors under consideration for the film, also felt the sting of a sudden and expensive hole in his schedule.

"I've invested many hours over the past several months working on auditions, breakdowns, introductions, workshops and travel," Kea said. "It's a significant financial loss for all involved."

Other projects scheduled in Thailand from December-March, include "Majik," a detective thriller set in the pharmaceutical industry, to be directed by Mark Hammond with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Robert Fraisse ("Seven Years in Tibet") behind the camera. Set to star Mads Mikkelsen, "Majik" was being made with local production company Living Films.

"It's a real shame, because we were one week ahead of schedule on 'Majik,' and then everything stopped," Chris Lowenstein, the film's line producer, said. "Hopefully we'll be able to continue with preproduction again in January but until then it's a frustrating waiting game."

Despite the upset, support for the strike, which began Nov. 5, is strong, even in Thailand, where the film industry is not unionized.

"The WGA is entirely justified in their approach, and I agree with the union 100%," McFadden said. "The timing is unfortunate for me but serves the greater good. That said, I hope both sides come to a fair agreement as soon as possible."

Neither "Pinkville" screenwriter Mikko Alanne, perhaps best known for his 1996 experimental film "Sleep, the Monster Whispered," nor director Stone's production company Ixtlan could be reached for comment.