Eighteen months ago we began our journey to Cambodia to create a film piece about Sinn Sisamouth, the most famous Cambodian singer of all time. Initially, we set out to create a short film bio, shot over a span of two weeks, however, it became apparent very quickly that the film needed to develop to be more substantial than that.
The main reasons for this were two-fold.
1. We were attempting to tell a story that dealt with one of the most beloved people in Cambodian history. The passion and adoration for Sinn Sisamouth of nearly every Cambodian we talked with was evident. Ministers of the Cambodian government, tuk tuk drivers in Phnom Penh, mothers in Battambang, school children out in the provinces, all shared a mutual love, respect, and honour of this man who seemed to represent a Cambodia at it's most vibrant and creative time. We realised we needed to do justice to this man's enduring legacy.
2. We knew that this had to be more than just a bio piece. There were complexities involved that we had not begun to develop before shooting commenced, such as copyright issues, rights for the families, the immense influence on Cambodians worldwide and Cambodian music until this day.
While we were waiting for our baby boy to arrive we continued to shoot what we could in the USA. This has included many Khmer-Americans - most of whom were refugees from the Khmer Rouge regime - who have been influenced by Sinn Sisamouth's music, and find listening to him a way to connect to their homeland.
Having this time to prepare has allowed us to research and have a clear idea of where we need to be telling this story, to make alliances with many Khmer-Americans, and to fully explore their stories and strengthen our belief that this film is important to them.
'Elvis of Cambodia' has become a much more thorough documentary film, which tells the story of a few individuals who are living their lives very much in honour of the great Sisamouth, by examining the enduring connection that Sisamouth's music provides them to a culture and a country. It is a film about Cambodians everywhere who choose to celebrate a man and his music, years after his execution during the Cambodian Genocide.
Official 'Elvis of Cambodia' T-Shirt or Tank Top
Designed by Red Scarf Revolution, one of the official sponsors of the film, the t-shirt and tank top are available in several colours for your selection - navy, grey and red and range from size S to XXL.
Traditional Krama Checkered Scarf
Straight from the markets of Cambodia! Wear your very own krama with pride.
Still Prints from the Film
Beautiful stills from the film come in two sizes, dependent on the rewards package you choose. The photographs below are just a few options, we will have many more beautiful shots when filming is complete.
Limited Edition EOC DVD
The Official 'Elvis of Cambodia' DVD will show the feature length documentary in full and be packed with extras, such as, Director's commentary, deleted scenes and film shorts.
Named and 'Angkor Wat' Photo 'Thank You!'
See your face and name up on the big screen! We ask that you send us a photograph of yourself, a loved one or a friend and that person's name. We will be making a montage of the photographs, perhaps in the shape of Angkor Wat(!) to show our gratitude for the supporters of the film.
Tickets to Screening of 'Elvis of Cambodia'
We will be holding screenings of the film throughout the USA, UK and Cambodia. The confirmed locations are Portland (OR), San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London and Phnom Penh. As part of the package you will meet the director and producer and be part of the Q&A session.
Private Screening Materials
We will send you a pack full of all you need to host a screening of the film in your home or community space. This will include:
- Either a copy of the DVD or a link to a downloadable version of the film (whichever is best for you).
- Access to never before seen footage
- Optional Directors Commentary
- Postcard Invitations for you to send out or give away
- Skype with the Director and Producer where you can discuss any aspects of the making of the film, film funding, shooting in Southeast Asia
Bonus package includes merchandise including two Official 'Elvis of Cambodia' t-shirts or tank tops and two traditional Krama checkered scarves.
Where the Money Will Go
All funds raised from this Kickstarter campaign as well as other fundraisers and sponsorships, will allow us to return to Cambodia and continue production of the film. This will include:
- Acquiring Archival Footage
- Translating during Interviews and Transcribing Footage
- Travel and Accommodation Costs
We have most of the equipment we need to shoot the film, however are looking to secure a quadcopter for aerial shots as well as a slider for dolly moves in order to obtain higher production values.
About the Filmmakers
Chris G. Parkhurst has worked in the television, film and commercial production industry for over 10 years, but his most passionate projects are the documentaries he has worked on or produced over that span.
Parkhurst’s first excursion into both documentary filmmaking as well as SE Asia, was in 2004, when he spent six months in Cambodia working on the Fulbright and State Department-sponsored documentary film,Bombhunters. The film, which was also edited by Parkhurst, went on to gain much acclaim, including not only numerous film festival nominations, but also a Sundance Documentary Institution inclusion.
This experience working on a film in a developing country led him to direct his own documentary, Journey to Kathmandu, a film about the once in-a-lifetime journey that Nepalese mountain goats make from their farmland lives in Tibet to their sacrificial deaths in Nepal, during the annual Dashain Festival.
However, his greatest achievement to date has been marrying the producer of ‘Elvis of Cambodia’, Stephanie Maria Vincenti, and helping to raise their beautiful offspring, one Flynn Christopher Parkhurst-Vincenti.
Stephanie Vincenti began working in film/tv production in 2006, working primarily as a 2nd Assistant Director on various features in the United Kingdom, including ‘Eliminate: Archie Cookson’ and Neil Horner’s ‘AB Negative’.
In 2010, Vincenti, seized an opportunity to do 1st AD work on some features in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This would turn into four years of working on features in both Malaysia and England, namely ‘Lagenda Budak Setan 3’ and ‘Prince of the City’.
In 2013, she started her own company, Little Scarlet Films, concentrating not only on feature length films, but also moving into the realm of documentary filmmaking. It was during this year, that she spent time in Cambodia filming with her future husband Chris G. Parkhurst, on what would become the basis for ‘Elvis of Cambodia’, her first documentary as a producer.
Risks and challenges
Shooting in a hot and humid (and sometimes rainy!) climate such as Cambodia can be tricky business. Security can also sometimes be an issue. However, with our prior experience shooting in such environments, we believe that we will have the proper protective gear as well as have taken the proper necessary precautions for shooting in such areas.
Cambodia is still lacking in any sort of true film infrastructure. Because of this, we will be taking all of our own gear, including backups of certain camera and computer equipment. Singapore and Bangkok are only short flights away, if we have any substantial gear letdowns.
As is the case with any sort of film endeavour, unforeseen circumstances can and will arise. We believe that we have the knowledge, foresight, and fortitude to take on any and all challenges as they present themselves.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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