Interview with Daron Ker

Daron Ker is the producer/director/cinematographer of the documentary “I Ride”.  Daron’s most recent documentary titled “Rice Field of Dreams” follows the trials and tribulations of Cambodia’s first baseball team as they prepare to compete nationally for the first time ever . Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Daron about his new film as well as his experiences from the filming of “I Ride”

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your newest film “Rice Field of Dreams”?
Daron Ker: That film came really as an accidental thing. One of my friends found an article in a San Francisco newspaper about baseball in Cambodia. I had wanted to find a way to help my country so I started to think of ways that I might be able to help.  The only way that I could really think of was to make a film about the baseball team there. For about five years I was connecting with the team’s manager Joe Cook and just getting to know him until the team was actually formed and ready to compete.

AL: From what I saw in the documentary Joe seemed like an interesting guy. What was it like working with him?
DK: It was hard because I have never seen a guy so dedicated but at the same time doing everything the wrong way. I don’t think Joe is arrogant as I believe he is more compassionate but he does flirt between those lines. Joe’s not really a player or coach…he is a cook. However he just loves the game so much and he is so into it that he cannot get away from it.

AL: What was the hardest part about making the film?
DK: Going back home to Cambodia for the first time was probably the hardest part for me. I had no idea the country was so devastated by the war as I came to the states when I was young. When you are living somewhere you don’t really think about where you came from. By making this film it gave me the opportunity to go back home and see your country. It was very heart breaking just to see these beautiful kids with nothing. I think this film helped me reconnect with my roots and when I came back to the states I was really saddened because I wished that I could help more. I am actually going to be going back to Cambodia soon to show the movie at a theater their which is going to be really great.

AL: Are we going to see sequel to the film?
DK: I don’t know about a sequel but what I want to do is to just share the film with as many people as possible. I want to take a projector over there and show it in as many providence’s as I can. I have been screening it here in the states to Cambodian communities as the response has been great especially from the Cambodian/American youth.

AL: How do you feel “Rice Field of Dreams” compares to your previous documentary “I Ride”?
DK: Both challenging films. To get into that motorcycle culture was the hardest thing I felt. They are just so raw and underground. I was location scouting one day for a feature film and while there I was invited to attend the Sturgis bike rally. There were almost a million bikers there and I was very intrigued.

AL: Once they allowed you into their sub-culture what were your initial thoughts when they allowed you to follow them around?
DK:  I thought that I better make a good film or am going to have to move to Cambodia! They are hardcore. I knew I had a solid story and the guys were great. It took them about two years to finally let me in. We would be trying to shoot them and then they would just ditch us and we couldn’t get any shots. One time I mounted a camera to one of the guy’s bikes while we were in Arizona and he just up and left us for like half a day. They thought it was fun and game. After two years I sat them down and told them I was tired of clowning around and if they wanted to make the movie we could but if they kept ditching us we were moving on.  At that point we were surrounded by bikers and my crew was pretty scared. Luckily they decided to do the film.

AL: What is it that drew you into making documentary films?
DK: I felt like for me to be a better filmmaker making a documentary was a good platform to start on. It teaches you to think out of the box and make something out of nothing. I had done a bunch of shorts and had also studied some great film makers but I wanted to start with something else before shooting a narrative structure.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects we can be watching for?
DK: I feel like am still incomplete after shooting these to pictures. I want my next project to be a narrative. I have a script titled “Holiday in Cambodia” which has been a ten year labor of love project. I really want to get this thing moving. It’s a different platform for me but I feel documentaries are way harder than narratives because when I was shooting the documentaries I never knew where or what I was going to be shooting. It will be interesting walking into a narrative and knowing everyday where I am going to be. My dream date to start that project is February 2012. I have a great group from Lucas Ranch that are going to be working with me so I am really excited. The story is about a kid from the states being deported back home to Cambodia and his struggles with that.

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