The following article by James Ostis appeared in this week’s edition of Khmer Post USA
Culture meets Creativity with Flying Orb Productions
By James Ostis
It started with book covers. Around 2005, Lowell photographer Jim Higgins needed models to appear in cover images he was shooting for various publications. A longtime friend of Angkor Dance Troupe founder, Tim Thou, Higgins began working with Monica Veth and Sophy Leng, two members of the troupe who quickly proved to be more than just models but rather actors telling stories one frame at a time. With these early collaborations, Flying Orb Productions was born and today continues to tell engaging stories one frame at a time in a truly unique way.
Flying Orb is a multi-platform performance company, producing films, dance performances, and live theater shows. The cast, which after growing over the years, remains primarily made up of Cambodian-American veterans of the Angkor Dance Troupe. Flying Orb uses traditional legends and mythology as the basis of their experimental storytelling, presenting these ancient tales in creative and contemporary ways. Higgins credits the Dance Troupe with instilling a tremendous discipline and commitment to art in all of the company’s performers. Often Higgins or co-director Sophorl Ngin will provide the frame or outline of the story, but each of the performers ultimately fills in the details in their own personal way.
While live performance is a key piece of their portfolio—the group hosted their first stage production with 2011’s Nectar of Immortality–Flying Orb is most known for their film work. Flying Orb utilizes a distinctive stop-motion camera technique where each frame in the film is actually a still photograph, rather than a piece of video footage. Some films will take over 200,000 still photographs to complete. The technique, coupled with Flying Orb’s often-surreal content themes, give the productions a truly unique look.
Producing these films and performances is a lot of work and a labor of love, but Higgins has a simple approach. “If we’re being creative and having fun, it makes it worth doing.”
On March 18th, as the third part of Angkor Dance Troupe’s Evolution of Cambodian Dance Film Series, Flying Orb Productions will present some of their recent works, including the award-winning short film, A Fairy’s Tale. The company will also preview a clip from their upcoming film noir-inspired short, Kimset 91. Actors will also perform a live skit from their upcoming theatrical production, The Kingdom of Kambuja. The event will take place at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor’s Center from 6-8 p.m. and will be open to the public. For more information on Flying Orb Productions visit them at www.flyingorb.com.