Home > Entertainment > #NoFilter: Director Baz Poonpiriya on filmmaking, being true to oneself and why Bangkok is like MSG to him
#NoFilter: Director Baz Poonpiriya on filmmaking, being true to oneself and why Bangkok is like MSG to him

Bangkok’s cultural scene never fails to impress us with its new talents and thought-provoking arts. The city has become a hot haven for dynamic up-and-coming artists, welcoming innovative ideas and talents with open arms. Dedicated to all these creatives in town, this series explores the journey and the edgy personalities of some of the most notable rising stars in the country.

As part of the Good Life Awards, we have recognised Baz Poonpiriya as 2021’s Good Life Guru. Click here to view our other Good Life Awards honorees who embody Lifestyle Asia’s good life ethos.

You can tell that a director is great at what he’s doing when everybody goes ‘oh yes, I know that film’ at the mention of their name, or when said film is so popular that it gets turned into a series. Of all the many Thai directors today, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya, the director of Bad Genius (2017), is among the hottest rising stars in Thailand. 

baz poonpiriya 1
(Image: GDH)

The older brother of June Patcha Hengsadeekul (née Patcha Poonpiriya or “Junejune”) directed his first feature, Countdown, in 2021. He quickly rose to become of Thailand’s most famous directors with Bad Genius in 2017. His most recent feature film, One for the Road, was produced by world-famous director Wong Kar Wai and premiered earlier this year at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Currently, Baz is also working on another project: a Thai cave rescue series with Netflix based on a true story from the 13 “Wild Boars” football team rescue case. 

baz poonpiriya bad genius
(Image: GDH)

Exuding an air of nonchalance that comes with (perhaps) his innate character and experience, Baz certainly knows what’s cool. Aside from directing films and producing works with his production house—Houseton—Baz has co-founded ‘Mutual Bar’ with his sister Junejune, and he is also the owner of FICS, a café and poster store with drinks named after iconic movies. On top of all that, he is also a doting owner/father of Dogdoi the pug and Jianghai, a senior rescue dog.

baz poonpiriya one for the road
(Image: “One for the Road” official Facebook page)

Squeezing in an interview session between his busy filming schedule, we snapped Baz up for a quick chat to learn more about the man behind the slate. 

Describe yourself in three words.

That’s quite a difficult question since I don’t know whether the description would be considered a fact or just a biased opinion of myself. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Baz Poonpiriya (@bazp)

In that case, we can skip that one. Can you tell us about your current project(s)?

I’m filming a series with Netflix, and the rest are script developments for my future projects.

What do you like about directing and filmmaking? And how did you get into it?

When I was younger, I’d often stay at my cousin’s place—which happens to be a video rental shop. And so I would watch so many movies that it became a hobby, which I kept until I was well into my teens and turned into a passion. That was when I realised I wanted to become a director. 


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A post shared by Baz Poonpiriya (@bazp)

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

I’d probably be a bartender or a bar owner. 

One could say that’s already true, as you also own a bar (Mutual Bar)?

That’s my secondary passion. If I wasn’t making any films at all, I think I would probably be investing myself in running the bar business and studying to become a professional bartender.  


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A post shared by Baz Poonpiriya (@bazp)

Name the last TV show you binge-watched. 

Oh, I just finished the first season last night—The Boys—on Amazon Prime Video.  

What is a character you would like to play from a movie? 

Hmm, there are so many. Oh, there is a series called Succession on HBO Go. I’d like to play Kendall Roy in that series. Having all that intellect and money, it must be fun. (laughs) 

If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

This one: In the Mood for Love’s soundtrack, ‘Yumeji’s Theme’. Every time I listen to the song, I feel that life is (a pause) good. There’s complexity, rawness and depth, but at the same time, there’s a certain beauty and tenderness to it. 


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A post shared by Baz Poonpiriya (@bazp)

Sadly, the building they used to film ‘In the Mood for Love’ on Charoen Krung is set to be demolished—the dates are unknown yet, but it’s been closed off already.

I should tell Wong (Kar Wai) about that. 

Note: Wong Kar Wai, the director of ‘In the Mood for Love’, was the producer for Baz’s film, ‘One for the Road’.

What is an Instagram account you’re currently obsessed with? 

I’m mostly following pugs accounts on Instagram recently. I don’t remember the exact handles, but I follow almost all the ones that pop up on my feed.


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A post shared by Baz Poonpiriya (@bazp)

What are you currently reading? 

There’s a book that I’m looking forward to reading. I bought a copy already—going to finish off all my work and read it at the end of the year. It’s a book called ‘Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World’. I’ve been interested in the topic for a long time. It’s about a Malaysian businessman who fooled the entire world. He laundered that money by using it to make The Wolf of Wall Street

If you were to write an autobiography or a film about your life, what would the title be? 

(Laughs) I won’t make one. It’ll be a waste of the audience’s time as there’d be nothing interesting in it.

What is your catchphrase or life motto?

If someone asks me about my life or my life motto, I’d honestly tell them that I don’t know, but that if there’s anything they want to do, give it a go. Don’t expect it to turn out a success, and don’t be scared of disappointment. 

Name 3 essential items you like to always carry in your bag, especially when filming on set.

Thai herbal inhaler. Sunglasses. And coffee—I drink coffee a lot on set. I won’t go on set before having coffee because I wouldn’t feel ready for the day.  

Is it always a long day on set for you?

Yes, usually. In the industry, we typically start filming early in the morning, lasting for at least 12 hours a day after we start.

A must-watch film that you’d like to recommend.

There’s an American film from a while back called What’s Eating Gilbert Grape from 1993. It’s not very well-known, though it has Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio starring in it. You can try searching it up; it’s a family film. I think people will know how to value the important things in their life after watching this film. 

Your favourite spot in Bangkok? And the best thing about this city?

I think Bangkok is a bit like MSG. (laughs) As in, there are many things about the city that’s not good for our body, but it’s yummy. The lifestyle and the vibe of the city are like food that you know is bad for you, but it’s so damn delicious. 


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A post shared by Baz Poonpiriya (@bazp)

As for my favourite spot in Bangkok, I haven’t had time to hang out recently as I’ve constantly been working. I’d say FICS and Mutual Bar—great spots. (FICS café and Mutual Bar are two of Baz’s ventures beyond the world of filmmaking)

Lastly, a word of advice for aspiring artists like you:

 Same as my life motto. Do something that’s meaningful, something that you believe in. Don’t expect that you would become successful from doing it, don’t be scared that you would fail while doing so, and be as sincere and true to yourself as much as you can.

#NoFilter: Director Baz Poonpiriya on filmmaking, being true to oneself and why Bangkok is like MSG to him

Nicharee Phatitit

Print and multimedia content creator Nicharee is a journalist, translator and copywriter who has written extensively for several of Thailand's prominent lifestyle publications and luxury beauty brands. In her free time, she enjoys doing interior styling and writing English and Korean poetry.

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