Searching For Answers: Rugby In Cambodia

Cambodia is as unlikely a place as anywhere to find rugby and it seems a trio of documentary filmmakers from France agree, thats why they have come to the Kingdom to research, explore and produce a documentary on the subject.

FrapaDoc Productions is a film production company specializing in web-documentaries and was created in February 2013 following the meeting of Gaspard d’Ornano, Maxime Morin and Matthew Boutitie in Cannes, where all three were graduates in journalism.

Bound by a “common interest in world cultures, human adventures and social and civic initiatives” they created FrapaDoc Productions. With a focus on the potential of web-connected TVs, their energy has focussed on the  development of web-documentary projects emphasizing the interactivity and non linear approach of the tools and technologies available.

On a typically warm and sunny Phnom Penh day, we caught up with the guys a few days after their arrival in Cambodia to better understand their intentions for the documentary and what they hope to achieve.

(Left- Right) Gaspard, Maxime & Matthew

Gaspard is the chief editor of FrapaDoc and is mainly responsible as the sound engineer and the editing of the final documentary. He has spent a lot of his life travelling and has previously visited Madagascar and central Africa, and he he grew up in Vanuatu and he iis still a fan of Fiji and Pacific nations rugby.

Matthew, is a “lover of travel and discovery and has previously visited Mexico and Australia” and although he isn’t as big a fan of ruby he is interested to find out more about the sport and his main responsibility is filming the documentary whilst Maxime’s is a rugby fan his, main responsibility is the writing and preparation of the interviews and developing the script.

So tell us about the background to Frapadoc?

Matthew: We met in Cannes during our studies, it was a one year study of video journalism and we built the company after the end of school, in last February 2013, so it was our one year anniversary when we arrived in Phnom Penh a few days ago. So we all wanted to make documentaries like this but first we had to make enough money to be able to buy the cameras and equipment so we did communication films, music festivals and events in France (to generate the funds.)

Gaspard: We specialise in web cast movies and especially web documentary which is a new kind of filming for the web and here, actually we are doing a  documentary about rugby in Cambodia. We want to create a web documentary with a lot of interactivity and the movie won’t be linear, you can choose what you want to see.

Maxime: We will also propose to the TV channels (in France) a normal style documentary  in addition to the web documentary.

Why Cambodia and why rugby?

Matthew: At first we just wanted to do a documentary in Laos as we had a contact there but then Gaspar met JB (of Kampuchea Balopp and they discussed the NGO) in Bordeaux and we took the opportunity to come here as it was an interesting project and we liked the idea of the project. At first we wanted to do a communication film but we appropriated the topic to try and do a documentary with a larger vision and interviewing a lot more people.

Maxime: With rugby, but not just rugby as the material and focus….

You say with not just rugby as the focus, not many people think of rugby when they think of Cambodia?

Gaspard: Sure and thats why we came here. When we heard for the first time that Cambodian people were playing rugby we thought  (laughing) “but they are skinny and they are playing rugby?” So we were curious about that and then its also a possibility or opportunity to talk about the other problems and issues in Cambodia like education, health, social issues.

What are your initial impression of Cambodia?

Matthew: I think it was different for all of us, like Gaspard is used to traveling. I would say it was for me the first time in a poor country with people living on the streets; a culture shock, but we have started quite quickly to prepare for the filming and already are in a rush and kind of integrating and adapting to the changes.

You have been here for 3-4 days and you plan to be here 2-3 weeks in total, so what is your plan for the next few weeks?

Gaspard:  We will stay in Phnom Penh over the next week and do a lot of filming and then next weekend (22nd February) we head to Kep with the PSE girls to film their rugby training on the coast and on the beach and then we will go to Siem Reap to meet the captain of a rugby team based there. Next week we will also film some practice trainings with some NGOs with children playing rugby and interview some official people form the Cambodian Olympic committee, the Cambodian Federation of Rugby and the Ministry of Education.

Frapadoc6What is it you would like to find out from these “official” people in Cambodia?

Matthew: We would like for them to tell us,  well many things actually, what do they do for the development of sport in general and rugby in particular and what do they think about the work of Kampuchea Balopp? Do they plan to develop sport and rugby at school, what do they think about it and do they have the means to do it?

Maxime: And also the situation or future of professional rugby development in Cambodia too?

What do you think the biggest obstacles will be for Cambodia in rugby and sports development from you have seen and heard so far?

Maxime: The biggest challenge for me is rugby development as a sport, development of all sport and the challenge is developing the sports for children in the schools. I think building the infrastructure for welcoming the sports into the school programs.

Matthew: I think money is the main issue, its always money… and their (government) intentions? We dont know yet if they really have intentions to develop sport and really believe in sport here?

(Beyond sport there are obviously a lot of youth education & development opportunities; teaching children about respect, discipline and teamwork and ambition, these are the challenges not only to rugby but any sport development in Cambodia)

What do you think the time frame is to have your documentary finished?

Gaspard:  I hope to have something finished around June of this year (2014), since we have arrived we have already shot over 200 Gigabytes of data/film so I think we will have a lot of material to work with and I think three months is ok to have it ready. Then we will also see if we can find a TV channel to broadcast the movie and so it could be a bit longer or less.

Maxime: We also have other projects and its just the three of us working on this so we have to take our time to do it properly.

Gaspard: The main purpose is it to have it free and get people to watch it free online when its finished.

So what are you hopes for the documentary , what do you hope it will achieve?

Matthew: We hope it will be seen by many people and that it ill be able to help the NGO’s and Kampuchea Balopp to sort of put pressure on the government to step in to help with sports development and make people realise that sport can be constructive for children to give them balance in their development.

Gaspard:  We hope that it will be watched in France and it will help Kampuchea Balopp and maybe some professional players will be interested and more money can come to this project?

Do you think the global rugby community will have an interest in what  is happening with rugby development in Cambodia?

All: We hope (nodding heads) Yes we hope so.

Matthew: Im pretty sure there will be interest in what’s going on over here in rugby. When we met the Silver commitee, which is the the French rugby organisation for clubs in the South West of France,  there was a lot of interest in what was happening here and I think the whole rugby community will have an interest in what’s happening in Cambodia.

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