Myanmar gets its own drama series

By Nyein Ei Ei Htwe
Volume 32, No. 624
April 30 - May 6, 2012

Actress Soe Nandar Kyaw portrays a Konbaung-era princess on the set of ‘A Chit Thin Kay Ta’ (The Sign of Love).
Pic: Supplied

MYANMAR will finally have its own locally produced dramatic television series when MRTV-4 launches A Chit Thin Kay Ta (The Sign of Love) on April 30, directors at the TV station told The Myanmar Times last week.

The series is being produced by local directors from MRTV-4 in cooperation with French director Benoit de Lorme and his team, along with technological support from France.

Production on the series started in early 2012, and shooting for Part 1 has now been completed. The entire series will consist of five parts, each with 26 episodes of 20 minutes apiece.

“Almost all countries with television channels broadcast their own dramatic series, but since the 1990s the local stations in Myanmar have only broadcast series from China and South Korea,” said U Htin Kyaw, a director at MRTV-4.

He said one of the challenges of shooting the first part was dealing with new actors.

“There are a lot of difficulties shooting with new-face actors for a long drama series, but they all tried very hard. They understand that if they aren’t good actors, no one will know them. But as a director, I am satisfied with their performances,” he said.

Another challenge was working under the strict schedule set by the French directors to ensure that they finished by the deadline.

“Under their schedule we finished 26 episodes in five weeks, which as a new experience for the local directors and actors,” U Htin Kyaw said.

“The French directors called all the participants, including the actors and camera men, to meet at 6:30am every day and try to arrive at the shooting location on 7am. They allotted one hour for make-up, and then we shot from 8am to 5:30pm,” he said.

He said the strict schedule was one of the reasons why they avoided hiring well-known actors for the series.

“The local superstar actors can’t accept such a schedule. Most of them are accustomed to arriving on the set at 9am and starting work at 10am or 11am,” he said.

“Also, the series requires a big time commitment that might not be okay for well-known actors who have to work for other directors. That’s why we didn’t offer them any parts.”

U Htin Kyaw said A Chit Thin Kay Ta includes plot elements based on Myanmar beliefs and traditions, such as connections between past and present lives, and combines them with both local and international filmmaking techniques.

“We can’t show all of our beliefs and all of our culture in every scene, and most people, including the actors, enjoy South Korean movies and want to act like Korean actors, but we encouraged them to give a local feel to their performances,” he said.

“There is some similarity with South Korean dramas because we used international-standard lighting and editing techniques. If there are some mistakes and additional needs, we’ll try to improve for the last four parts,” he said.

U Htin Kyaw added that he hoped Myanmar would develop film studios in the future because they faced many difficulties shooting on location.

The lead actor in A Chit Thin Kay Ta, Myat Thu Kyaw, said he was glad to play a prominent role in the series, although he added that his hopes for the project were modest.

“Because the series will be broadcast weekly on MRTV-4, the audience will have the chance to watch us perform more than if we were in a movie,” he said.

“I tried my best but I feel that I still need to do a lot of work on my acting,” he added. “The directors have tried to teach us how to fix our weak points, and now we are preparing to shot the next parts of the series.”

U Htin Kyaw said MRTV-4 has also issued a call for new actors to audition for supporting roles for upcoming parts of the series.

Episodes of A Chit Thin Kay Ta will be broadcast every Monday and Tuesday following the 8pm news, and every Thursday and Friday at 12 noon.