In 1967 Les Blank and Skip Gerson were hired to work in Thailand on a documentary about the B52 Bomber and its use in bombing campaigns over Vietnam. The producer had difficulty getting permission from the Thai government allowing the filmmakers access to the plane. Weeks went by with Les and Skip on payroll, but having nothing to shoot. So they traveled around the country filming whatever attracted them. The two made a side trip to Chaing Mai, but mostly focused in and around Bangkok. Ultimately, access to the B52 Bombers was never granted, so the paid job was cancelled.
Although Thailand Moment is one of Les’ earliest independent films, his style and ‘voice’ are already apparent. As was the case with his film, God Respects Us When We Work, But Loves Us When We Dance, there is no narration, sync sound, or any interviews. The film is a beautifully rendered visual experience, from the unique perspective of Les Blank. The main music was played by a blind, homeless musician, and it brought both Les and Skip to tears during their recording of it. Unfortunately Les ran out of film so all that was captured was the mesmerizing audio. Les created the head title artwork but not much else, and left a rough edited work print unfinished when he died. Recently, editor Ben Abrams, and producer Harrod Blank (Les’ son) elaborated upon this gentle film. It is likely that Les had put this project aside when another film became much more important, The Blues Accordin’ To Lightnin’ Hopkins, which launched his career as an independent filmmaker.
A film by Les Blank with Skip Gerson