The Legend of Muay Thai: 9 Satra
A Purposeful Step for Thai Animation
This animated feature film began with a small group of Thais who aimed to export Thai-style content to the global film market. The local production team of over 200 people took over 5 years to complete this ambitious project.
The early November launch of “The Legend of Muay Thai: 9 Satra”, the latest work from Exformat Films, drew a great deal of attention since it is considered a phenomenon in Thai animation industry. The film put the spotlight on the art of “Muay Thai” which is known around the world. Presented in a fun, universally popular action fantasy narrative, the story is told through an adventure of Odd, a boy destined to help save the Ramathep Kingdom from the clutch of Teha Yaksa, the giant king who has invaded the kingdom and wreaked havoc on its people. Odd studies the once-lost art of Muay Thai from the best teacher in the land and uses it to carry out his mission.
Although determined from the start to create an animation that tells the story of centuries-old Muay Thai, Nat Yoswatananont--the film’s main script writer, director and art director as well as the founder of Igloo Studio, the animation studio with over 10 years of experience which handled the film production—stressed that the more important thing is the story must captivate the audience. The cultural element was then adapted into the narrative to create a distinctive charm.
As for the Muay Thai techniques featured in the story, the production team received advice from Master Charoenthong Kiatbanchong in order to learn about the correct basic foundation before studying the Muay Boran (literally "Ancient Boxing") moves from the Northeastern boxing show group who has performed in both Thailand and abroad. The team also conducted a field study in boxing arenas in order to gather raw materials for the fighting scenes. ”Watching boxing matches in the arena is a lot different to watching them on TV. You can hear the sound of flesh hitting flesh and the highly engaged audience. We wanted to convey this experience to the viewers, to make them feel like they are watching on the ringside,” Nat explained. With a great deal of detail to study, the script writing process took more than two and a half years, with Daraka Wongsiri as an advisor and Supakorn Riansuwan as co-scriptwriter.
Talking about animation, many tend to think of a cartoon drew up from imagination before recording voice over. But for 9 Satra, the production team is determined to realistically portray the personality and emotion of each character while synchronising images to the voiceover in the best possible way. The working process started from casting the right actors for the roles, having them interpreting the script together and practicing the acting so that the animator team could use the acting images as references for each character’s posture and personality. Once the animation was completed, the voice actors then recorded the voice over. They also had Ryan Shore, a Grammy Award winning film composer, creating the score with a full orchestra.
9 Satra is scheduled to premiere in Thailand on January 11, 2018 and will soon be released in China and other countries. It’s another big step to introduce Thai animation on the international stage. “The animation industry today is rather highly competitive. There are many new studios opening in Asia, be it Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines or India. Our purpose in producing 9 Satra is to create a film that is an original content and good enough to sell globally. We want to become the main force to lead the growth of Thai animation industry in the world market because we believe that the creativity borne out of unique content will increase opportunities for our country since it can be built on into many diverse businesses.”
Interview with Nat Yoswatananont by Natanit Tanmanasiri (November 29, 2017)
Article: “9 Satra, the Epic Animation Film that Gives Thais a Sense of Pride” (November 21, 2017) from movie.mthai.com
Story: Natanit Tanmanasiri