Clubhouse Conversations — Thirteen Lives

In this episode, cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and director Ron Howard are joined by interviewer Chris Manley, ASC to discuss their work together on Thirteen Lives — the survival drama based on the extraordinary true story of the Tham Luang cave rescue operation in Thailand.


Thirteen Lives follows a rescue team as they endeavor to save the lives of 12 young boys and their soccer coach, who are trapped inside a flooding cave that they set out to explore after one of their team practices. Working closely with their location scouts, Mukdeeprom and Howard made the decision during preproduction that they would re-create this story's setting in Queensland, Australia, which provided them with a topography strikingly similar to that of northern Thailand.


Here, the cinematographer and director reflect on the challenges they encountered when lighting and shooting underwater cave scenes; their responsibility to capture a sense of cultural accuracy when depicting real-life events; and the importance of trusting their operators while shooting with multiple cameras.

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is a Thai cinematographer who rose to prominence after shooting the 2010 film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which won the Palm d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. He later received more international acclaim for his work on the Academy Award-winning 2017 feature Call Me By Your Name. His other feature credits include the 2018 remake of Suspiria.

Ron Howard is a multi-award-winning filmmaker whose directing credits include the features Apollo 13 (1995) and Cinderella Man (2005). In 2002, his film A Beautiful Mind won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and he was again nominated in these categories in 2008 for his film Frost/Nixon.

Chris Manley, ASC is a cinematographer known for his work on the TV series Mad Men and Prison Break. He has been a Society member since 2007.

You’ll find all episodes in our ASC Clubhouse Conversations discussion series here.