Till We Meet Again is an award-winning indie film focused on the way relationships can both begin and change when traveling abroad. So far I have been given the opportunity to watch and review the film, as well as bounce a few questions off of director Bank Tangjaitrong in the first installment of “Making Till We Meet Again“.
Today I’ll be sharing an interview I conducted via email with Johan Matton, whose role in the production include writer, executive producer, and acting as Erik, one of the leads. That being said, while the film was ultimately directed and brought to life by Tangjaitrong it can’t be argued that its very existence largely lies on Matton’s shoulders.
David tells Joanna that being in Thailand “realigns you with who you really are.” It seems apparent from the film, which you wrote as well as starred in, that you’d been there before. How much truth do you think there is in that statement?
I wanted the character David (Emrhys Cooper) to come across as a flirtatious, charming person who always knows what to say but is still real and sincere, not the stereotypical obstacle of a man for Erik and Joanna that he could have been. I believe in this moment he speaks about what is true to him; he is not just using catchy lines to charm Joanna (Linnea Larsdotter) at this point, I think he means it sincerely and believes this to be true. For me I believe in individuality [laughs] and that expressions such as this where “you” means “everyone” can be a bit naive.
Some people might be aligned, some people may not. However, empirically for me, Thailand definitely aligns me and I find myself looking inwards and realizing what more I can give to the world and how egotistical New York makes me if I do not take enough pauses from the city. I also believe strongly that some people do tend to get grounded sometimes when they travel and change perspectives from the loop of life we are usually in. So the statement is true to David and for me, but most likely not to everyone.
Do you think Eric ends up finding out who he really is?
I believe he finds out a lot throughout the film and he grows to become someone that can do much more than he could at the beginning (trying to avoid spoilers, haha). I believe at the end of the film it is not that he found himself completely, and the same goes for everyone; the search is not “over” for all these characters, maybe it is now the real journey can begin. I think Erik will find more in the coming months moving forward from where the film leaves him.
Your character tells his newfound friends that the past few days are the longest he’s ever been away from Joanna. Given how extreme his neediness is, does it go beyond that at all [especially given what he says about his sister taking care of him]? At times he appeared to struggle with anxiety at the very least.
Erik struggles with anxiety when alone, and his problem has been that he chooses to escape rather to deal with it and jumps from his sister’s support to Joanna to Miranda, which ultimately makes Miranda frustrated because she sees this pattern and tries to help him. Does it go beyond that? It did in earlier screenplays, where Erik had recurring panic attacks. But we switched focus a bit here, after discussing with the director and my co-writer, as inner struggles are not always as easy and interesting to showcase in a character on the screen. Frankly a screenplay usually works better when the protagonist actively is trying to achieve something outside his/her own mind. With some great exceptions of films I love [laughs].
However I think it is utterly important to showcase anxiety amongst young and adult people and that it can happen even in a relationship between young 20-somethings, and in the paradise of sandy beaches in Thailand. I thought initially there had been too much focus on depression and anxiety amongst adults and older people in film and wanted to showcase these millennials struggling and dealing with emotions and life as well.
That also connects to the title, Till We Meet Again, which applies to Eric and Joanna reconnecting after their time apart. What expectations were there for Eric surrounding that event, and did they change the more time passed?
Throughout the film Erik is searching to find a way to get back to Joanna again, and I think Erik is almost surprised by his own reactions to what happens to him and the way he approaches their meeting when they finally see one another again.
When Miranda asks Eric what he’ll miss about Thailand he answers with “the people”, and jokes that he doesn’t mean her and her friends. How serious was he being? We don’t really see him engage with any Thais until right at the end of the film.
Good question. Erik is referring mostly to everyone he met throughout the journey: mostly Miranda, Jamie and Cecile, backpackers, and Thai locals. I wrote the joke into this scene to showcase that Erik is so much more comfortable now compared to the previous scenes with Miranda, Jamie, and Cecile, and he allows himself to relax and be a person who stops walking on eggshells trying not to do something wrong. I also wanted give Erik some humor and charm to give a better reason for Miranda to find liking to him.
We did initially have many scenes with Erik interacting with Thai locals but had to cut multiple scenes due to runtime. We kept snippets of Erik shopping and interacting with the locals before the night market but the 3 bigger scenes were cut. Maybe we can find them on a DVD special in the future.
I hope this question doesn’t come across the wrong way, but would you say that this story is for everyone? The reason I ask that is because all of the characters appear to be able to travel without worry. That’s not a freedom I can say many of my peers have, given full-time jobs and college loans to pay off.
I think the story can be for everyone, I believe this is one of the crucial points of films and filmmaking: that we can create something and envision ourselves in a land or a place we have never been to, or with an economy we can only dream of and might never have. Some people need films to see other characters cry and laugh because they may or may not have enough laughter and/or crying in their own lives. I always hope to inspire when I write, and these backpackers are by no means rich people.
When I myself backpacked I spent less than $1000 and was gone for almost 2 months and in 6 different countries in South East Asia, traveling to places in Cambodia where I slept on mats on the floor for $1 a night and eating only rice and vegetables (I lost 15 pounds!). Backpackers we met said they had traveled 2 weeks (not months) and already spent over $4000 in 2-3 countries, so there are different ways of traveling. We didn’t fly anywhere; we took local boats, buses and hitchhiked between each country, 32 hours with goats on one bus and trains in 3rd class without windows where we dodged branches from palm trees that would stick into the train car from the thick Malaysian jungle outside. And believe me we both had (and still have) major student loans. We did indeed quit our jobs to be able to travel, though.
Thank you so much, Evan.
Tune in soon for our final interview with Emrhys Cooper!