Category Archives: Travel

Making Till We Meet Again: Emrhys Cooper Explains What It’s Like Being the Bad Guy [In Relationships and Abroad]

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Today marks the last installment of “Making Till We Meet Again“, a series of interviews with the creators of the award-winning indie film in question. Focused on a handful of tourists making their way through Thailand, many of the questions and answers to date [with director Bank Tangjaitrong and actor/writer Johan Matton] have revolved around depicting another country and culture given that framework.

Actor Emrhys Cooper is the last person to share with us, in particular about how both he and his character, David, have experienced being in the South East Asian country as visitors and guests. Fair warning, this interview contains mild spoilers for Till We Meet Again.


David tells Joanna that being in Thailand “realigns you with who you really are.” Had you been there prior to filming Till We Meet Again? Do you think there’s any truth to that?

Yes, for many reasons South East Asia has pulled me into its orbit. That powerful land mass includes a major portion of this planet’s populations, including both India and China which are the two of the most densely populated nations on earth.

At the naïve age of 18 I went on a backpacking tour of Thailand. What an incredible experience that was. Then, in 2013, I was back again as I was cast in a movie called Kushuthara which shot in Bhutan. That’s a tiny country located up in the Himalayan mountains between India and China; one must go via Bangkok to get there.

This year I returned to Thailand to shoot another movie in Bhutan. I was lucky to get to spend New Year’s Day in Bangkok, followed by an impromptu trip to Vietnam. When I finished shooting in Bhutan I went to Cambodia, which is a country any person interested in animal protection should see. The elephant sanctuary reminds us that we are not God’s greatest creatures, but only the caretakers of his best and most precious treasures. To hear and see an elephant in all its glory, means more than any person’s hug or kiss. All human beings who value our animal companions, both great and small, should understand this.

Traveling helps realign you; travellers look to find themselves or something that will help them grow. In that sense, traveling is one of the greatest therapies. It belongs alongside the couch of Sigmund Freud as a great tool for our minds, to escape from a solely interior world.

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Making Till We Meet Again: Backpacking and Screenwriting with Johan Matton

tillwemeetagainTill 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. Continue reading

Making Till We Meet Again: Director Bank Tangjaitrong on Filming Your Home Country

tillwemeetagainLast Wednesday I posted my review of Till We Meet Again, an award-winning American-Thai production. The film follows the experiences of a couple traveling through Thailand, paying particularly close attention to how separation and loneliness play a part in their relationship.

Following that is “Making Till We Meet Again“, a series of interviews with the creators. The first of which is an email Q&A with director Bank Tangjaitrong to get insight on how Till We Meet Again came to be. Following sometime after should be interviews with Johan Matton, who both starred in and wrote the film, as well as co-star Emrhys Cooper.


From what I could tell this is actually your second time working with Johan Matton, with the first being your award-winning short film That Girl, That Time, which you wrote and directed. He was the star of both films, but actually penned the script for Till We Meet Again. Can you share anything about your experiences working with him, as well as having him on story duties this time around?

I always look forward to my collaborations with Johan as we’ve worked together so many different times in the past from a director-actor capacity. With Till We Meet Again, Johan was not only the actor but also the writer and producer, and to most directors that would be an immediate red flag since lines would be blurred and there wouldn’t be a sense of hierarchy with too many “voices” on set, but that was not the case here. Collaboration is essential for me and I try to bring in the best people for the job and learn from them and listen to them. Every idea was valid whether it came from an actor, producer, writer, gaffer, etc. But it had to all be funneled through the director and he or she would choose what works what doesn’t and I think Johan understood that. During the shooting process our relationship was always about director and actor first, that was the priority.

I read that you were born and raised in Bangkok, and wanted to know what it was like filming the majority of a feature film in your home country. In particular I noticed that while shots are certainly beautiful, they never feel exoticized. Unlike, say, the way Thailand was portrayed in The Hangover Part II where it’s very clearly depicted as a foreign place.

The way we shot Thailand was very important to our story and I wanted to make sure that we weren’t just including famous landmarks and treating the visuals like an ad for the tourism authority. We needed to find that balance between what’s expected of a film shot in Thailand but also a film about the human condition. It’s important that a scene that takes place in the confines of four walls can be equally as intriguing as a scene on a secluded tropical beach.

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Till We Meet Again: A Film Review

tillwemeetagain“If you’re gonna go [. . .] it needs to be now.” 

Those are words that have been said countless times by the young, privileged, and recently travelled. And so they’re repeated to Erik [Johan Matton, who also wrote the screenplay] and Joanna [Linnea Larsdotter] over dinner on a New York City balcony. “Just go” is the advice given, and moments later we cut to the couple beneath the welcoming Thai sun.

The expectations for a story like this one are the same as they would be for an actual getaway to the Southeast Asian country: sexy, inspiring, exhilarating. Director Bank Tanjaintrong’s first feature length film, Till We Meet Again delivers on all of these fronts, but also tempers those feelings with the everyday matters of need and loneliness. Even before Erik and Joanna are separated, with the latter leaving earlier than planned to reconnect with David [Emrhys Cooper], an old friend, those issues lie just beneath the surface.

Likely attributed to the director having grown up there, Thailand is depicted with a comfortable familiarity that lacks the lurid exoticism many Hollywood movies have employed. With that in mind it serves primarily as a backdrop to the relationships playing out onscreen, which are further complicated by the introduction of Miranda [Astrea Campbell-Cobb]. While the setting’s natural and man-made beauty are never obscured there’s a tight focus on the core cast, and one that offers very little screen time for local talent. Continue reading

CWR’s Brexit Breakdown

Well folks, it happened. In a move that continues to shock the world, Britain has dramatically voted to leave the European Union.

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And make no mistake readers- the Brexit is the worst thing that has ever happened. Or the best thing. Or…

Well, something.

For all the outrage, jubilation, and wild speculation, the reality of the situation is that most folks have been caught off guard by this decision- and probably none moreso than folks on this side of the Atlantic.

Plenty of conservatives- including potential American president Donald Trump- have applauded the Brexit, claiming it to be a victory for small government, autonomy, and “making Britain great again.”

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Which is something that should probably concern the rest of the world…

On the other hand, liberals have been howling that the Brexit represents a secession not simply from Europe but from progressive values, freedom of movement, and a commitment to peace and unity in general.

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With all that noise, dear readers, it can be tough to hear the truth.

And unfortunately, we don’t have it either. The reality is that this is an absurdly complicated issue with far-reaching implications and plenty of ramifications that we can only guess at. So rather than add to the din, we here at Culture War Reporters have gathered the most pertinent issues for your own consideration. Continue reading

Eight Things I Learned in Indonesia

A little over a year ago I spent four months in Indonesia. I didn’t really travel across the country, at least not in the way you would expect during that much time abroad. Instead I had the great privilege to live in Indonesia, and see it from the inside. It’s hard to put to words all that I learned, and impossible to do justice to the people I met and the experiences I had. Here is my attempt to share are a few things I learned while I was travelling.

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1) Hospitality

The first notable quality of almost every Indonesian I encountered, and especially of my host family, was their hospitality. Within 12 hours of arriving my concept of generosity and hospitality had been put to shame. My hosts not only shared their home, they shared their family, lives, and friends with me. I was adopted into their social circle, taken for day- or week-long trips by their friends while I was there. I was honoured to be one of the first people to greet the family’s first grandson alongside the immediate family.

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2) Hijabs aren’t scary

This is a fairly potent topic these days so I won’t comment too much. Over half the women on Java wear hijabs, a head covering worn by Muslim women. When I asked why they wore them, all the women I asked answered with “I wear it because I choose to.” I began to recognize beauty and comfort in these headdresses, as well as freedom of expression. These women were neither ashamed nor pious in their religion, it was simply a part of their life.

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The Hoarder Vs. The Purger: How Do You Appreciate What You Own Without Letting It Own You?

This will be a shorter post than usual because I am visiting my family for the week while John and I transition from “school home” to our “summer job home”. In the spirit of moving, I wanted to touch on a question that might occur to anyone who has ever had to pack up their belongings: How much stuff is too much stuff?

This is an example of what too much stuff looks like.

This past Saturday John and I handed back the keys to the basement suite we called home for our last two years of university life. Despite storing our books and dishes at a friend’s house, we still ended up with way more bags and boxes than our small car could possible hold. While I struggled to decide which pants I wore least often and how badly I would need those mason jars for canning, John had no qualms throwing out pretty much anything that he knew he wouldn’t need in the immediate future. He also jokingly called me a hoarder, knowing that it would get under my skin.

As I sat on my suitcase (in an attempt to keep as many of my clothes as possible), I thought back to a couple years earlier when almost all of my earthly possessions could fit into one suitcase. What is it that makes me hold onto things now so much more dearly than I did a few years ago? Continue reading