1. From your resume, it appears you have been into the business development and marketing side of the business, specifically in the music and entertainment industries in Thailand. Could you give international fans of BL a sort of intro about the current state of Boys Love production in Thailand? This may appear like an introduction into an industry we look from the outside, but as an insider, you have certain insights and opinions to give us a better picture.
—Edited by TheFNGee
First of all I would like to give an introduction of the BL series. With my students, Ms. Boonnapa Potisawang and Ms.Surapa Supamanee, I have conducted two research papers namely, The Attitudes of Loyal Fans towards Y Drama Series Performers and Understanding the attitudes of loyal fans towards performers of “Boys Love”, Sample Early Working Age, for the International conferences in 2020. I think it is beneficial for the fans to better understand about the whole picture of BL series including history and industry in Thailand.
The entertainment industry now is awakened by the growth of boys love drama series, “Y Drama Series”. It is not the usual drama series that most people are familiar with, since the two main actors of the show are boys, originated from boy’s love online novels. These novels have a specific target group called “YAOI” or “YURI”. The word has a root from Japanese language used to call any girls who love reading them. The novels usually pick some existed characters from general cartoons and rewrite them based on imagination of boy’s love and complicated relationship. Then, there has been a development in this field from picking the existed cartoon characters into picking some artists from K-POP artists.
The Y online novels have been popular for years before it comes to drama series in Thailand. The history of boys love stories has started since the Edo period spans from 1603 to 1868, the inception of popular Japanese culture mentioned homosexuality. During the period, the word used in the era for this culture was ‘Wakashudo’ “spanning from the middle ages up to the Meiji Restoration. (You can find more information about Wakashudo from the research I mentioned above “The Attitudes of Loyal Fans towards Y Drama Series Performers”)
Commonly, the Y series are developed from the Y online novels as called as “Manga Anime” in Japanese. The novels were extremely popular before the period of Y series publication and have a large hidden number of fans. This can be one of the reasons that Thai digital media takes some times considering on the Y drama shows publication, especially the series which made from novels. Back to the past, homosexuality was unacceptable to society because of the gender segregation, cultures, norms, and values that cultivate from parents. The mass media such as televisions, newspapers, radio, internet, including movies, dramas, and series are the important sources that represent different perspectives of homosexuality in terms of gender identity and gender expression. It has an ability to influence and control the audience’s mentality. Also, they can be the mediator of freedom, image, and acceptance of homosexuality.
“Love Sick The Series” is a good example that made from a boys love novel. I would say this series is one of the most successful series in Thailand. This was a big move for the entertainment industry producing Y drama series. Certainly, Love Sick The Series, at that time, caught many attentions from YAOIs in Thailand. The protagonists in the show became really famous from the performance in the series. The entertainment industry then takes the opportunity, turning those novels into drama shows on television. Thai entertainment industry also makes a move by choosing some of the published novels and turn them into series open for watching on digital television and online television.
Although the publication on digital television was not very successful, the publication through online television seemed to be a better channel to publish Y series due to the number of people watching the show. On LineTV (online television in Thailand), it has shown a big number of audiences watching Y series of approximately about twenty-million people in 2017, both domestically and internationally. Hence, it is foreseeable that this Y market in Thailand can grow further according to the media consumer behaviors at that time.
2. Who are the most popular and sought-after BL authors, and what have been your experiences dealing with them? What about the content producers? What are your thoughts about censorship, self-regulation and artistic freedom on BL issues and how are companies like GMM, Nadao Bangkok, Motive Village, Me MindY, Studio Wabi Sabi, Motive Village deal with them?
It is obviously seen that GMMtv recently becomes a leader of the BL series production company. They own a fully integrated team/department to set the entire business and marketing strategy for their BL projects. The executive, marketing, and PR team have a great vision. Also, all of them have been long working in music and entertainment industry for many many years. I learned from them a lot when I was the artist under their management in one music company. With their experiences, they definitely can give fans the best work, for example the perfect casts, the authentic scene and a great title and entitle music. Also, I personally admire Wabi Sabi after they can also professionally introduce “Until We Meet Again” to the market. Several scenes in this series is able to touch fans’ feelings and emotions very well. I think they makes a right decision to bring “Boy Sompob” presenting title/entitle songs including soundtracks. It is such a perfect match between the series and music.
Regarding to the performers, we can not deny that Bright and Win are the popular couple at this moment. They have gained a large number of fans from worldwide. I can say they will have a lot of opportunities doing several things in this entertainment industry.
Based on my working experiences and what I learned from postgraduate studies, artist management is not easy. First, I set “understanding the talents” as the most important thing when I develop the artists. What is their future plan and goal dealing with an entertainment career? This is just for ensuring that they have a passion to do and be ready to work. Then, I keep asking myself that is there any possibility to lead them the way and help them to achieve their goal. “Their future comes first” and “Good kids should deserve it” that what I always keep saying with myself. Within artist development, it is not just changing and improving their looks (external feature, for instance appearance & characteristic) and giving a session of performance and singing & dancing class, but “internal feature” development that includes psychological factors (attitudes and the way of thinking) is also necessary. Many casts are talented, but if they have a wrong attitude; how can they survive in this industry? Many casts become arrogant when they get fame; how can they remain their life cycle in this industry? So, I think under the perspectives of artist development, it should be better to focus on more “Internal Feature Development Program” as it is very important.
3. How are auditions for the cast of BL series done in Thailand?
Generally speaking, are the actors chosen pushed to agree to sign a contract?
How many years are they supposed to honor such a contract?
Are there protections for these young actors if the contract is biased?
Is there any regulation from any government agencies that look into these entertainment projects?
A difficulty of audition for the cast depends on a reputation of the company. A company which has a positive perception from the public gains advantage in the audition processes. A number of talents who have “a good quality or a high-quality level” are absolutely willing to join the audition. So, they will have a lot of alternative choices to get the best qualified talents. The audition can be conducted by face to face or online platform or both. Online casting might be called as the pre-audition and face to face casting is the first audition. Then, the talents who get into the face to face audition might have to participate the one or two days workshop program, so we can clearly see some hidden positive and negative sides of the talents.
Normally, the contract takes three to five years. Don’t imagine that there will be two lawyers from both sides taking the action for the company and the talents like in European countries. Some small companies may just copy the contract from another company or some just use it as a reference and adjust it a little bit. The talents especially new actors have no power to change the context or the agreement in the contract. An unethical or immoral company takes the advantage from the talents by writing a biased contract. The contract will be normally issued and claimed when they both have the argument. This happens very often. A company will claim the contract and force the talents to do or not to do unfairly. The question is “how this argument ends up? ”Negotiation? Or Prosecution? It depends. Mostly, innocent young talents agree to sign the biased contract because they just want to be a star. I believe there are a regulation from the government agencies that can protect this, however people don’t pay much attention for this. Personally, I highly recommend a new young blood to take this into a consideration before making the agreement.
4. We understand that there are current issues involving Motive Village and the actors cast for 2 Moons 2. We would appreciate if you can give us your thoughts about the current situation – the creation of a new boy band and the absence of one of the actors, and what appears to be the future of the 2 Moons series?
What I can say for now is I am the one who initially created this project, but the theme and the concepts of this band was not from me at all. I don’t want to mention about the future of the series project. But I want to only give the best wish to the boys. Regarding to the absence of one actor, as I have already spoken up in my previous tweet, I strongly confirm that he got a talent. I believe the fans can also see and make a judgement. All staffs who worked behind also gave a positive feedback about him. Lastly, some people work in this industry in a top level also mentioned to me the same thing. So there is no reason to let him down, but instead, I would love to take this opportunity to encourage fans to raise him up.
5. Some people were surprised that you created another Twitter account. Is this account meant to get closer to the fans and to assist them with issues they hardly know and offer some help? What’s the purpose of this new account?
In the Twitter community, the users mostly remain anonymous, and may have more than one account for a particular purpose. I have two accounts that are separately used for two purposes. I have been using my first one as the professional account for my work. On the other side, I am also an “ordinary audience” or “consumer”. So as the audience and one of the entertainment fans, I will use the second account to present what this ordinary fan feel toward the entertainment industry even positive or negative like the other fans do. Of course, when we become a fan, we have right to make comments either good and bad things happen in this world. Apart from being a professional, getting insight with another Twitter user help me to know what they think and they become my good friends now. As seen in my second account, I as the audience I don’t give in-depth information or detail about the issues. I only give my opinion about things as an ordinary audience.
We at Psycho-Milk.com would like to thank Dr. Jiwa for speaking with us today
Join the discussion 4 Comments
The questions good, the answers polished and somewhat vague.
The idea of giving an idea of what goes on behind the scenes is great. I know there have been a number of controversies among the stars (original 2Moons cast replacement, Perth/Saint managers etc).
So what about all the 16-21 year olds competing for limited opportunities and what is that like?
Boun, the actor who had breakthrough as Win in UWMA- mentioned in an interview with UWMA’s Earth how discouraged he’d been and how he felt he’d been ‘cheated’ on his payment in several prior small roles (which would include 2Moons).
Be great to see future interviews with:
1. A female actress describing what it is like to compete for the mostly horrific roles of women in a BL
2. An ex semi star who describes how many auditions they went to and what it was like
3. How are sponsors found and financing achieved
Thanks so much for going beyond the usual celeb interviews!
I’m grateful for your comments. We are trying to reach out to people who are actively involved in “Behind the Scenes” scenario. The BL industry like any another suffers from controversies like casting couch amongst others. We will keep digging for more. Thank you for the suggestions !
Thank you so much !!
Very informative. Excellent questions.