Still from the film One for the Road
Scene from the film One for the Road (photo by Phaklao Jiraungkoonkun)

Sundance Film Festival 2021

Even a quarantine couldn’t stop Bad Genius director Baz Poonpiriya from finishing One for the Road

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Published on January 28, 2021

Scene from the film One for the Road (photo by Phaklao Jiraungkoonkun)

In tribute to teams that bring movies to life, we're talking with filmmakers to learn how they collaborated and completed their films despite the challenges of pandemic lockdowns. 

Acclaimed for thrillers such as the award-winning box office hit Bad Genius, director Baz Poonpiriya calls his latest film One for the Road his most personal feature yet. The film follows a New York bartender who is called home to Bangkok by an old friend who wants to take one last road trip through Thailand before he dies. 

Produced by Wong Kar-wai (In The Mood For Love), One for the Road is one of the most anticipated premieres at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. In this email interview, Poonpiriya tells us about the making of his new film, which premieres January 28 at 7pm PT.

Scene from the film One for the Road
Still from the film One for the Road

DropboxWhat sparked the idea for the story and how did you begin gathering collaborators?

Baz Poonpiriya: It all started with a call from Jacky, the excellent producer for Mr. Wong Kar Wai. She said they had seen Bad Genius and luckily, they loved it enough to offer me a chance to work on a new project with them.

As a true cinephile who grew up with Mr. Wong’s movies since the 90s, how could I say no to that! Then, it turned out to be a three-year long session of me trying to get to know my true self—how f*cked up I am as a friend, a son, a lover and even a human being—through the process of filmmaking.

Did the pandemic shape the making of the film?  

We were lucky enough to finish 90% of the shooting before the city of Bangkok shut down. I turned to editing during that quarantine period, which helped me a lot in terms of what I should do and how to make the most out of the shooting days that I had left.

“Everybody in the crew had a more eased and uplifted spirit... We knew we were all lucky enough just to be able to carry on working and living our lives again.”

How did you work remotely with your crew?

In the process of writing the screenplay (before the pandemic, when traveling across the country was as easy as pressing the Expedia app on your fingertip), my script writing team and I would fly to Hong Kong once a month to meet with Mr. Wong, spending a couple of days in meetings and talking about the story and script. Then, we would fly back and start putting all the ideas together on paper. It was like that for almost 2 years.

Scene from the film One for the Road
Still from the film One for the Road

How did you manage to overcome finish the project in such an extraordinarily difficult year?

With a lot of discipline on set, when they unlocked the city, we were able to start shooting again. Somehow, I could sense that everybody in the crew had a more eased and uplifted spirit than ever. It’s like we knew we were all lucky enough just to be able to carry on working and living our lives again. This feeling created an incredibly profound atmosphere throughout the rest of the working process.

To check out the Sundance Film Festival’s new online platform, visit festival.sundance.org

To read about the making of this year’s films, visit our Sundance 2021 Featured Collection