Coming this Saturday evening to your screen/device of choice is The Balcony Show, an on-line Phnom Penh-produced variety production put together by some expat friends with COVID-enforced time on their hands. A talk show, a music show, a comedy show – and anything else that fits.
Indonesian jazz singer Intan Andriana, well-known to the Leng Pleng readership already, is joined onscreen by Andrej Uličny, from Slovakia, who likens the concept to Jimmy Fallon showing up in Cambodia and doing a show.
“We want to bring Cambodia and its arts to the world,” says Andrej. “Especially to wider audiences who have never had the opportunity to visit this country. There are so many things that are different from the west, and even other countries in South East Asia. Things you can see only in Cambodia.”
“We will invite musicians, dancers, many different artists,” says Intan. “We would like to bring performances to show the available talent, and to have them share their experience of living here. It will be an exchange of ideas, expat and Cambodian.”
The on-screen team: Intan and Andrej. Photo: supplied
Behind the camera, although with plans to play a little sax from time to time, is Olga Lakantseva from Ukraine. “I’ve lived here almost two years,” she says. “I came for a contract position as a musician, but obviously I don’t perform now, and I have a lot of free time. My role is that I take care of the video, directing the shoot and then doing the editing. I have a background in journalism, so I have skills in the production process.”
The idea came together through the palpable synergy that the team possess. “We are all good friends,” says Olga. “When we meet up together we always laugh a lot. One night we decided we should create something in this time when we are doing nothing. Let’s do something!”
“Intan is always on fire, saying let’s
make a live video and so on,” says Deon Manu, also from Indonesia, who has a background in TV production and in charge of the technical side, lights and sound. “Andrej is like a stand-up comedian, very funny, and has good presentation in front of people.”
The whole crew, ready to entertain. Photo: supplied
“I’d been interviewed [on
Sssessionsss at Botanico last year],” Intan explains. “I thought that’s an interesting experience, maybe this can be done! Then we added other ideas.”
The script is hammered together by Andrej and Olga. “I take his ideas and tidy them up, thinking about how I will shoot it, and put it all together.” And then there’s the shoot itself. They don’t have to go far – the set is Deon’s balcony, hence the name. The first test shoot was back in June. “It was very physically demanding, the first shooting,” says Andrej. “35 degrees on the rooftop, for five hours straight, through the hottest part of the day. We just put up a video on the Facebook fan page, the impressions at the end of the day. By the end I couldn’t think straight.”
On minimal budget, they are relying on guts and brains and friends, learning as they go along. “We take our ideas, make the scripts, do a lot of preparation,” says Intan. “And we use what equipment we have, it’s not super high tech.”
“For the talent we must start with our friends,” says Olga. “They can be more patient with us during the shooting process. My good friend Ariuka, I really want to thank her for her patience. We could not work the same way with somebody that we don’t know.” Ariuka Badrakh, who hails from Mongolia, is the special guest for episode one, playing the traditional Mongolian zither-like instrument called a yatga, known in Chinese as guzjeng, with vocal assistance from Intan.
The plan is to release episodes of around 25 minutes every three weeks or so, at least to begin with; there has been much discussion about the need to keep the content engaging, entertaining, not too long, and to allow good time for editing and post-production work before release.
The trailer for the first episode has been published today and can be viewed on YouTube here. The show itself will premiere on YouTube at 7 pm Indochina time on Saturday 21. Tell your friends, near and far!
The social media is all here:
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDE2gIv6JeNwMWma5WWj6hg