Who is number 18? She has a name.
The journey of “She Has A Name“ from the stage to the screen: a conversation with Writer, Andrew Kooman.
Based on true events, She Has A Name follows Jason, a lawyer posing as a john working to build a legal case against a pimp trafficking girls in Thailand. During his investigation Jason meets number 18, and discovers that her life-risking testimony will be key to proving his case.
She Has a Name is a film adaptation of Andrew Kooman’s stage play which toured Canada in 2012 and is now being performed off Broadway. The play was well received across the country and Kooman decided it was time to adapt it for the big screen.
The initial inspiration for the stage play began when Kooman was living overseas in Malaysia. After attending a conference where he was hit with the statistics that 1.2 million children are forced into some part of the sex trade every year, Kooman felt he had to do something. And so, he wrote this story.
“It's based on a true event actually, that took place on the Thai-Malaysian border, where a water truck that was trafficking Burmese migrants through the country ran out of gas and the drivers just abandoned it. They were left in the back of that truck for I don't know how long but about 50 of the hundred people in that truck died. So this story is really asking a question; ‘What might have happened to one or two of those girls that were on that truck that survived?’”
After learning about trafficking, Kooman began writing for gender-based injustice publications where his stories were well received and were translated into multiple languages around the world.
“I realized wow, there is a way to address subjects I’m really passionate about in a creative way, and that sort of lit my fire, and that’s what I want to continue to do as a writer.”
While Kooman loves most film genres, he especially loves drama, thrillers, and comedy. However, he especially loves the human story. “I want a film to tell me something I never knew, I want to connect with it emotionally. I want to learn something as a person and I want to be able to relate to it,” Kooman explains. “Even if you’re not from Thailand, even if you don’t know about trafficking, what I’ve tried to do with writing and producing this film is tell a story you can still relate to in a human way.”
Despite it being Kooman’s first experience as the writer of a film, Kooman has produced other work through Unveil Studios Inc, the production company owned by him and his younger brothers. Kooman explains that She Has a Name is their biggest film yet, and they are currently working on a documentary called Dream.
“I learned by doing” Kooman explains. Kooman did not attend film school, and while he is not opposed to the idea, his advice is “just do it, and learn as you go.” He recommends film festivals as a way to get connected with other people who are passionate about their art form, and a place where you can learn a lot about the industry.