Inside a Tokyo hotel room, the two Thai film nerds sat with the one-and-only Brad Pitt. It was one of those scripted moments where they were supposed to stick to questions about his most recent film – Ad Astra. And they did, at least until the end of their time slot, when it was another film from 20 years ago on their minds.
“Can we talk about Fight Club?” one of the nerds asked. “Always,” immediately replied Pitt, flashing a little Tyler Durden.
Growing up as boys really into movies, 24-year-old Chatchai “Jerry” Asanachinda and 26-year-old Takit “Champ” Sombatnan never imagined that after college they would be fielding invites to sit down for face-to-face convos with the world’s top actors such as Pitt, nor did they expect to be in the arms of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ask Ant-Man star Paul Rudd to shrink himself to fit into a doll-sized shirt.
Now the duo’s YouTube channel Just Doo It (doo meaning “to see”) is followed by more than 1.2 million people. It brims with videos that go beyond typical reviews, offering everything from “know before you watch” analyses and recommendations to exclusive interviews and even a sponsored 360-degree video on finding the “best seats.”
Among their most-watched video clips: a know-before-you-watch on Kong: Skull Island (3 million views) and Godzilla 2 (2.2 million views), and a behind-the-scenes video of 2019 Thai supernatural thriller Sang Krasue (1.7 million views)
“By the numbers, it’s pretty clear that Thais like to watch monster movies and horror films,” the duo said.
Champ writes the scripts and Jerry edits the footage — both provide voiceovers — to the roughly 120 video clips they produce annually, all without a studio or office. All they need is fast Wi-Fi and laptops.
In the few years it took the channel to build an audience of 1.2 million subscribers – nearly half a million follow them on Facebook – they’ve obviously drawn the interest of major domestic and foreign studios looking to reach their viewers.
“It’s as if we’re inviting over a million of people to go and see a movie,” Champ said.
Champ’s passion for films started young, and he started selling copies of movies on VCD for THB20 in middle school. He earned a cinema and digital media degree at Srinakharinwirot University and interned for Nadao Bangkok, a studio-production house under commercial entertainment juggernaut GMM Grammy.
Jerry says he grew up surrounded by movie scripts written by his grandfather. Grandpa happened to be Somchai Asanachinda, aka Sor Asanachinda, who was named Thailand’s national artist in the performing arts in 1990. Jerry remembers being in eighth grade when he likewise opened a “rental shop” where he suggested films to friends and let them borrow them for THB10.
Obsessed with Ian Fleming’s secret agent James Bond, Jerry said he’s watched the film franchise — all of them — several times. Teased by his grandmother into taking his knowledge to a Bond-themed episode of Fan Pan Tae – a quiz show competition between superfans – Jerry actually did so at only 17.
Their collaboration began with an unplanned, improvised pilot in November 2015. Jerry and Champ got drunk at the opening of that year’s James Bond movie, Spectre. When they got home, they recorded themselves talking about the movie and uploaded the resulting hour-long audio file to SoundCloud.
The hungover morning after, they woke to find it had been listened to more than 4,000 times.
Over the following months, the podcast evolved into the very visual YouTube channel it is today. Unlike other Thai movie bloggers and vloggers that only focus on reviews, Just Doo It takes an edutainment approach without scaring away the joy and fun.
Among their primary inspirations, the pair said they look up to pop-culture fixated channels such as Nerdwriter1, Screen Junkies and CineFix, and even the reviews by Rotten Tomatoes-certified critic Chris Stuckmann.
Now the fresh-faced influencers are living the dream. The twosome says what sets them apart from most commentators – writers, journalists and film critics – is that they can be fully themselves.
Instead of morphing into “serious critics,” they keep their uncool and still gush like fanboys who can’t believe their luck. They put themselves front and center in their videos and bring viewers along for the ride while beaming “just happy to be here” grins.
“If you aren’t excited meeting them, you’re crazy,” Champ said about his A-list encounters, while Jerry said rejecting formality makes them more relatable to their viewers.
For the most part, their star subjects, however exhausted, look genuinely amused by their shameless enthusiasm.
“Some people have a saying that ‘you should never meet your idols,’ but we found The Rock really friendly in person,” Champ said. “We’ve heard that he was a humble guy and all that, but when we met him in person, he was even nicer than we thought.”
Who’s their White Buffalo guest? Jerry and Champ agree they most want to sit down with Tom Cruise. After four years, are they ever burned out?
“Never a dull moment,” Jerry said, saying that even after 15 hours of editing, he’s still “fascinated by the results of it.”
Read more of Coconuts Bangkok’s features here: