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The argument that led to JJ's arrest as depicted on television

'Big Trouble' for JJ: Inside the Jet-Ski Scandal

Friday, September 11, 2009
I'M THE Producer/Director of 'Big Trouble In Thailand' or 'Thai Cops' as it was known during production. I came up with the idea and shot it mostly myself, with the help of a Thai cameraman.

And with the full co-operation of the authorities concerned in Thailand whom I cannot thank enough for their kind co-operation and trust.

Thanks for the write-up, by the way - a solid summary.

The sequence with JJ was NOT staged and I hope he is not in jail based solely on his contribution to the series. JJ was a willing participant and at the very least I am grateful for his contribution to the program. JJ was not paid to take part in the filming.

In fact. he invited us along. Nor were the Royal Marines paid as I'm sure they would be happy to confirm. Nobody was paid.

These days I'M lucky to be paid in TV - as the self-shooting P/D.
You want to see an email from my boss complaining how much the shoot was costing. That would shatter some illusions, believe you me.

I am grateful for the comments about the camerawork - someone on a forum somewhere called it "too good". Please pass that onto Vera Productions and Bravo, my employers.

I have had very little involvement and influence in the editing of the series - my job was to provide the content from the field, on the ground in Thailand.

We (my Assistant Producer, our Thai fixer and I) filmed JJ over a few days in Phuket. I met him in the lobby of the Patong Beach Resort where he was trying to get an Indian family to pay up for the damage he said their son had caused to a jet ski and a parasail tow rope he'd severed.

I had heard of jet ski scams - a fight that took place and was captured on camera in Chaweng, Samui - and I asked JJ if he would take part in our filming to tell his side of the story.

I explained that we wanted to show both sides, that undoubtedly in my view foreign tourists must damage jet skis, there must be genuine cases. Based on this understanding JJ agreed to take part in our program.

He also understood that our primary focus was British tourists in Thailand. JJ agreed to call us when he had a case which would illustrate that not all jet ski hire outfits are scam artists.

That case turned out to be the Royal Marines who we'd also been following around Phuket during the visit of their ship HMS Bulwark. And when the call came JJ even sent a motorcycle and sidecar to pick us up. I have the photo of me in transit.

We had a good working relationship with both the Royal Marines Military Police and JJ. In the end - when JJ called our fixer with the case - the two parties ended up coming together, and the rest is, well, all over Bravo and the internet.

I simply filmed what unfolded (albeit with flair and agility :-)

If anyone is still of the opinion that the scene with JJ is faked then I will today provide links to the raw, uncut footage from the events of that day and our full interviews with JJ - before and after.

If JJ must face trial by TV then at least let it be as fair as possible. For those who seem to profess a knowledge of the reality of 'reality' TV production - and I've lectured at university in it - comparing the unedited material with the broadcast version will be illustrative.

I set out to make 'Thai Cops' - a Thai version of the sorts of shows you see all the time in the U.S. and Britain. - on a shoestring. If you were expecting "insight" as one poster on a forum observed the program lacked then you're unlikely to find it on Bravo I'm afraid - certainly as I define the word.

These days you are also extremely unlikely to find insight anywhere on TV. So, as an old favorite UK TV show of mine used to say: "Go out and do something less boring instead".

Not to put too fine a point on it if Bravo were a pub in Pattaya it would be 'The Dog's Bollocks'. Or 'The Lazy Pig' where we popped in for a few drinks. See lads of 'The Lazy Pig'? I had no intention of "tripping you up".

I simply wanted to make an engaging - entertaining even - series about the work of the Thai police, the Brits who assist them and the tourists, preferably Brits, who unfortunately get into trouble in what can be a very foreign and culturally challenging country indeed.

I will say that of all the countries I've been to Thailand is my favorite - by far. And that this series was even possible is for me why Thailand is so amazing and magical. I would urge people to travel to Thailand.

Even the prisoners we interviewed in Thai jails aren't keen to return to the UK - either to serve the remaining periods of their sentence or when they're released.

Years ago I used to work on a US series called 'Real TV' in Los Angeles - probably the first caught-on-camera show which sold around the world making Paramount Domestic TV who produced it $25 million USD a year.

I never heard anyone say it would damage America's reputation or put Brits off traveling to Disneyworld. Same goes for Hill Street Blues, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, America's Scariest Police Chases and The Wire.

And in the UK better not watch the nightly news - it's horrendous and would put off even the most hardy Korean from booking a fortnight for two there. But enough of Gordon Brown.

If you have any questions about the making of Thai Cops I believe in absolute transparency - so ask away.

And gird your loins for today's first online TV 'tutorial'!

Thanks everyone for your interest,

Gavin.

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Comments

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The JJ example is really typical in Thailand, in the way they handle things with tourists when something goes wrong.

Sadly they wanna show you that it is their land and no matter if you are right or wrong.

The problem is more about people believing they can act as they want here just because they are Thai nationals without respecting any law.

I honestly think this kind of movie was necessary for the Thai people to see how we see them most of the time. I do know that such behaviour concerns only a very few percentage of the population here but this percentage does the damages among the international community.

In life we generally remember what is bad, rather than what is good.

Posted by Antony on September 11, 2009 12:52

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One of the best exit to the mess, would be that all jet-ski operators, motorcycle-car rental operators and their staffs are legally registered with TAT Registration Office including that all jet-skis, motorcycles and cars are fully insured and properly registered with either Harbour Department or Land Transport Department.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 11, 2009 16:24

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A very good interview correct an no bias as all interviews should be. The answers are there for the doubters and people that think we in the west disbelieve the true state of how we are treat by the scam artist's on your belov'd island. Will this post be passed on to all the goverment dept's on Phuket as im sure thats the only way they will sit up and take notice and finally all though it has taken this to get them to accept that patong and phuket has put a lot of people off travelling there or are they still going to sit back with there mai pen rai or som nam nar attitude. Be interesting to hear an answer from the governor himself.

Posted by billy dale on September 11, 2009 16:25

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Gavin
10/10 mate......well bloody done!!!!!

Posted by Paul taylor on September 11, 2009 16:50

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Thanks for providing this additional info. Great job Gavin! I am also in media, producing not only on Phuket. Would be nice to meet up for a drink on Bangla one evening. Cheers night707@mail.com

Posted by Buck Wild on September 11, 2009 16:57

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Some points.
JJ knew that he is in tv. I think he wanted to be big gangster star and tv camera surely provoked his action.
Also marines knew that everything is going to be taped. Did they knew that gun is not real ? They are professional soldiers and shotgun with scope should look bit redicilous.

And another point. Was that jet-ski scam or did that marine really broke jet-ski ?

Only sure thing is that JJ is in big trouble becouse of joining show...

Another topic was that girl in jail. I dont think that media presence will help her situation at all. It will make it worse. Especially if she is not clean..

Entertainment factor is surely FULL 100%, but i dont think that programm will make anything good for people who are joining to it.

Posted by one jj on September 11, 2009 17:03

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I would be interested, how you think the police, that you RAW filmed, think about the made reality on TV.

Anyway this JJ guy is delusional. How he can do what he did in front of a camera, even invite it? Unbelievable. He must think, he has big cloud...

Anyway, I would recommend every one to buy a new Apple Nano or this FLIC thing and make a video, next time someone wants to scam you.

And these poor complaining Thai Jet Ski operators, don't they wonder how all the operators for example in Spain can make a profit?

For the Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, there is a fast and easy medicine. Just allow only ALL INSURED Jet/Ski renting.

Or cap the payment to the Chinese level of 3.000 Baht in case of PROVEN accident. Some beachboy can make foto before and after (with the customer). Without foto proof no claim.

I think that takes only will power from the Governor. And the Jet Skiing can be about fun, like every where else in the world.

Really IT IS A GOOD BUSINESS, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CON THE GUESTS. Sorry for crying, but it makes me sick.

Posted by Lena on September 11, 2009 17:53

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Get rid of ALL jetski operators. They cause so much damage to the tourist trade. We are constantly reading articles relating to continual scamming of the tourist for "faked" damage to jetski bikes.

Posted by desmond on September 11, 2009 20:57

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One more thing, after watching the movie on youtube (connection really bad the last days...). It looks, like the Jetski was poorly repaired. Or maybe better repaired to break. You can spot it by the dark inner parts with the little nice overlay of white.

If these fiberglass breaks you have to repair it nicely, there is a lot of pressure from racing a jetski with 60 kph and a 100 kilo guy sitting on it. Water turns very hard. Even small waves shatter a pussy repair.

So the jetski can look good, when you inspect it. You cannot see, if the repair is faulty without having stolen the ultrasound from bangkok hospital, that I do not recommend.

Only you can test it by pressing on with your knee on the jetski, specially at waterline and little down, check how it feels. But that could break the perfect looking jetski, if it is made/to/break. Don't know what JJ would say then...

So my advice for Governor Wichai Praisa-nob is to let the guests rent these great fun boats only with FULL INSURANCE. No strings attached.

Then the owner will have to decide, who they think fit for driving, maybe no more little kids, no drunken ones, no freaks. Maybe even throttle down the vehicles. And they will make sure, the jetski are FULL REPAIRED and strong, because the tourist may ride funny with it. All the incentives are with the owner to make this a fun and sport activity in Thailand, as it is in nearly every other part of the big tourist countries. If that means some higher rental fee, so be it.

Posted by L on September 11, 2009 21:02

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This series could be a blessing in disguise for Thailand ...

Posted by Sean on September 11, 2009 21:20

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Another rip off shown to the world.

Posted by Anonymous on September 11, 2009 22:43

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Great Job Gavin!!!

I cannot thank you enough. I consider myself lucky, as all of my experiences in Thailand have been wonderful (so far). Based on my experiences - I can tell you that most of the true Thai people are the most wonderful, good people on earth.

But I have heard about the scams and people who said they were victims to Thai Jet Ski, Tuk Tuk, and Taxi operators. Also I understand there may be an organized crime element involved.

As an observer, it appears that the meaningful wealth created in Phuket seems to be densely concentrated in hands of foreign developers/investors, and a few wealthy well connected Thais. In Phuket, the struggling working class appears to be systematically marginalized, kept in poverty, and left to their own devises to make scratch out a meager living. I believe this makes impoverished Thais already weak, even weaker and more vulnerable to unethical, and criminal behavior/organizations.

Hopefully Thailand will do more to help the working poor. Create more social stability, educational and economic opportunities for the working poor.

Your production serves as a much needed wake up call to the authorities and the world. Unethical business practices, and criminal business elements must be eliminated.

Thanks again for your report and keep up the good work in Thailand.

Posted by AmericanLovesTheWorld on September 11, 2009 22:48

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It happened to me, me and my girlfriend (Thai) were on holiday in Koh Samui just a few years back.
I paid for one hour and the guy was as nice as pie. After 45 mins I brought it back. No problems and walked away. Second time, I paid for 1 hour again. This time the guy looked upset(probably didn't make enough that day). I took the ski out, I was getting bored so after 40 mins I brought it back. This time I was surrounded by a bunch of hostile local Thais. I can speak Thai fairly well. We got into a long argument about me cheating him, his family and bringing shame to his friends. I told him it was BS in thai, threw the keys at him and walked off down the beach. Later that day I saw another tourist asking him about costs etc.. this German guy told me to F-off and mind my own. I did. I sat back and just watched the whole thing play out knowing what was gonna happen. He came back and they Thai mob grabbed him off the ski and really went to town on him. He could see me and I could see the look on his face. They dragged about 6000 baht out of him.

Posted by Jonesy on September 12, 2009 03:57

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More and more the world is watching Thailnd. More and more we ALL should strive to make it the beautiful place it always was. Lets bring back the beauty of Phuket for everyone, locals and tourists.

Posted by Graham on September 12, 2009 13:53

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Sadly it is endemic-In pattaya my father and I were caught up in the same old same yet with the spin that the two police officers who arrived made it clear our passports would be retained while they "investigated" for anything up to two months unless we agreed to pay 50,000 baht.
This program exposing this scam is timely and welcome

Posted by chris on September 12, 2009 20:28

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Most Thai people are horrified and disgraced by the way JJ carries on, it is very un-Thai and a huge loss of face to the country when they see this on TV.

Posted by thaidiver on September 13, 2009 01:04

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Gavin,
i don't know why you need to explain yourself. there will always be critics that say it's fake. honestly i'm not sure myself. tv has just taught me that in the past. it might not be fake in sense of telling lies, but to twist a story to be more dramatic etc, forget these and that details.
but does it really matter for you?
your concept is very good, i find it very entertaining, and so do most of the ppl in public. i can watch it without needing to believe every detail. it's tv. i can filter myself.
i like your work and i have never even heard of oversea tourist police assistance, and i'm in thailand for 2 years now.

Posted by Jan on September 14, 2009 13:37

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Please put an end to backward thinking that "u r farang and farang can pay." We can make holiday in Philippines also...they also have jetskis and good beaches.

Posted by Pork Knuckle on September 15, 2009 01:16

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Fantastic work, Gavin.

It's now on Youtube and in the file sharing networks, so everyone will know about this. I've been living in Thailand as an expatriate for 16 years. During this time I ran across a few JJ-like people, most of them obviously cooperating with the police. Luckily, I never got involved with any of these folks. Good work exposing them. Unfortunately, the big ones are higher up and more camera shy.

Cheers

Posted by Thomas on September 15, 2009 14:33

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This whole place has turned into one big rip off. The sooner I get out of here the better. Petty nonsense will destroy your tourist industry. I shall try Vietnam, Costa Rica or Honduras next time. It seems foreigners are always wrong. Good for the British TV exposing everything related to the mishandling of tourists in Thailand.
The truth is glaring. The reaction of the Thai media is dim.

Posted by targeted on September 24, 2009 20:14


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