My Life as a German Movie Star

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Shortly after arriving in Ao Nang, Krabi, I met up with Backpacking Matt and Cody of Thrilling Heroics, pictured with me above.  Cody, having lived in southern Thailand for a number of months, awesomely offered to show us a good time.

Starting with an offer to be an extra in a German movie called Tourist in Danger.

Would we be interested?

Would we EVER!

At 3:00 PM, we were herded down to the set, where we expected to be for the next twelve hours.

Above: the stars of the movie!  Do any of my German readers know who they are?

The film takes place at the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, an island on the other side of the peninsula. (I just hope they didn’t get the actual half moon in any shots.)

Our first scene: releasing lanterns.

Matt and I were paired up with Hannes and Vanessa, both from Sweden, and over and over again, we set off the lanterns into the night sky.  It was a beautiful scene, and I will never tire of seeing those lanterns fly into the air.

If it weren’t for the Germans yelling “LIGHT THE BALLOOOOOONS!” over and over, it would have been positively magical.

Then they filmed a few scenes on top of the lanterns.  One of the assistant directors grabbed me and my friend Hannes.  “You’re going to be a romantic couple.  Drunk but not too drunk, you will walk hand in hand, then gaze at the sea.”  Aww.  The scene went well with three takes.

Next, we were ready to shoot scenes inside the bar.

The assistant director came up to me.  “You…I would like to see dancing on the beach in the next scene.”


“YES!” I yelped.  “OF COURSE!”

I got placed in the dancing group and positioned in the front of the frame.

Then I was hit with a sick terror:

More than fish, more than birds, more than crashing a motorcycle, my greatest fear is dancing in public.

Not all dancing — I love dancing.  I’m fine if it’s choreographed.  Or if it’s intentionally goofy.  Or if I’ve been drinking.  Or if it’s in the middle of a group.

But improvised, sober, good-looking, spotlighted dancing?  A NIGHTMARE.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only nervous one.  The other girls cast as dancers felt the same way and were freaking about how the crew wouldn’t let us have a few drinks to relax.

But you know what?

The cameras came on…and though I was terrified, I transformed. It wasn’t about my fear anymore.  It was about being in a movie! The dance music played for ten seconds to get us in the rhythm, then stopped and we danced in silence.

Dancing fear? I think it’s out the window now!  IS SOUL TRAIN STILL ON?!

Dance scene after dance scene filmed.  It began to downpour, and, in a completely makeshift move, the crew had to cover the entire building with tarps.  Not exactly high-budget, this movie.

Soon it was 3:00 AM and we were still shooting dance scenes.  By then, everyone was absolutely delirious from fatigue and boredom and dancing nonstop.  We started singing and giggling to get through the scenes enthusiastically.

“People,” one of the assistant directors announced, “I know it’s very hard, but please do not sing while you dance.  We need to record the dialogue.  We’re making a movie.”

Matt: “A bad movie.”

(In case you’re wondering, yes, the extras talk about how bad the movie they’re filming is going to be.)

Despite that admonition, that didn’t stop one hilarious Thai guy from singing the most random songs while we danced in every take, from Akon to Snoop Dogg – once, he even broke out into Mambo Number Five, a huge goofy grin on his face!  By the time that happened, we were so delirious that everything suddenly became much funnier, and we were dying with laughter while flailing around to the lack of music.

The dancing in that scene is going to look TERRIBLE. I’m telling you now.

Finally, we were released a bit after 3:00 AM.  Exhausted, we collected our 1500 baht ($50) for a day’s work and hopped on the sawngtaew home.

And while there was nothing I wanted to do more than go to bed, I was a movie star in Thailand.  Movie stars in Thailand don’t go to bed. They drink a bucket of Red Bull.

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