Associate Professor of Anthropology and Stan State Alum, Dr Steve Arounsack, directed and produced the film Getting Loa’d, that made its Stan State debut last month.
This film, which was 13 years in the making, documents the emergence of Lao pop and rock music and the development of the film industry in Laos.
Dr. Arounsack explained that his inspiration for the film came from a trip that he took to Laos back in 1994.
“I asked my cousin to listen to more modern lao music and he put in a Thai cassette, and I said no I don't want to listen to Thai music I want to listen to Lao music and then he explained that there really is no new lao music it’s just recycle iterations of the old folk song and that really sparked the question in my mind, well why isn't there new blood?” Dr. Arounsack said.
Dr. Arounsack explained that this was odd for a culture and it wasn’t until a few years later that the filming had actually begun.
“There’s always new ideas and cultures change but it was really stagnant for some reason. It wasn't until a few years later that I heard some of this newer hip hop rock music coming out so I went back and investigated,” Dr. Arounsack said.
Faculty and students who attended the showing were impressed by the story that the film told.
Natasha Ambriz, Stan State Alumna, explained what she liked most about the film.
“Music is an important part of our lives and for human social relations. So just to see this other country and how their growing, its like the birth of music, its like seeing independence, seeing people be able to freely express themselves, you know that's important, that's what music is about,” Ambriz said.
Ida Bowers, former professor of Geography at Stan State, explained what surprised her most about the film.
“I knew he was working on a documentary in Laos but I didn't guess that it would come from the art and music side and its wonderful! So interesting to see the transition from traditional Lao music, which is beautiful, to the young people taking over and just developing their own world, it’s wonderful,” Bowers said.
Dr. Arounsack also explained the process of producing this film and some of the challenges of condensing a 13 year experience to a 40 minute documentary.
“You find things that are representative but also things that are unique. You have to mix the specific with the general and then you show it to a bunch of people and you see what sticks. It’s like writing a paper, there are multiple drafts,” Dr. Arounsack said.
If there is one thing that Dr. Arounsack wants students to know its that you get better through criticism.
“Be okay with constructive comments, it only makes it better, and it’s nothing personal because how can it be personal when they don’t know you on a personal level. if your gonna be a filmmaker with any longevity your gonna have to be okay with that,” Dr. Arounsack said.
This film is expected to roll out to film festivals all over the country in 2018, including the 2018 Houston Asian American Film Festival the first week of June