“Bagati” production stills

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Last weekend, I joined the thesis short film production of one of my colleagues in the UP Film Institute and STAND-UP. It had been a long time since I took part in a film production ever since I entered law school. Interestingly enough, I got invited into one right after I decided to take a break from law. The shoot was held in a peasant community in a barangay in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal, near Wawa Dam. It was, surprisingly, just a little more than thirty minutes from Diliman, if one takes the path through the winding Payatas Road.

"Bagati" Production Stills "Bagati" Production Stills

Despite the apparent beauty of the scenery surrounding the community, residents are actually suffering from neglect of support from the government. The hanging bridge that serves to connect the community with the main highway was only built three years ago, and even so, is already on the brink of total deterioration. Many of the residents are also confronted with the threat of demolition in the name of road widening and property development by big landowners. Until recently, the communities in the area were being patrolled relentlessly by soldiers and intelligence personnel.

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The short film features peasant children in communities suffering from military offensives and similar forms of violence.

“No Boundaries” showing Oct. 2-4

Finally, after a couple of re-shoots, Ali and Mimi’s production is almost done. I hope when we said it was a wrap, it really was a wrap. I’m afraid I don’t have time for another one… Anyway, this, again, is for a Broadcast Communication (BC) 130 class production. If you might remember, my Mass Comm batchmates who were students in the same subject last year invited me to act, too, in a short production called Lloyd of All Trades. Yes, it was the one with the “infamous” split-second butt-exposure shot.

Anyway, this one’s less scandalous, and a lot more well, romantic and cheesy. The poster might give off the idea that the love story is between me and the kid. NO! It isn’t. According to the script, it’s a “love story that even time stood still for.” He he he.

For those who want to see it, among other Broadcast Communication 130 productions, screening schedule at the College of Mass Communication is as follows: October 2 (Thursday) 1:00 – 4:30 PM | October 3 (Friday) 10:00-12:30 PM; 2:00-4:30 PM | October 4 (Saturday) 10:00-12:30 PM; 2:00-4:30 PM | October 10 (Friday) Awards Night; 6:00-10:00 PM

Nightmares and child-acting

September 14, 2008. A few days ago, some of my orgmates in UP Cinema Arts Society asked me if Tisay could act for one of our orgmate’s thesis short film production. I was hesitant at first, since Tisay was just two years old, and I was doubting if she could deliver lines or any acting of that sort. Plus, she could be a brat. And I sort of have an idea how coaching a child to act can be a headache. Despite that, I said yes, and for that they even gave me the role of his father, too. Anyhow, it was a largely cameo role.

True enough, however, Tisay was such a brat during the shoot. She was okay at first, but since shoots are always vulnerable to delays, and delayed the shoot was, Tisay got pretty bored and tired before we got to shoot the sequence she was in. By the time it was our turn, she was on tantrums. Indeed, directing or coaching a child to act can prove to be one of the most difficult aspects of directing. She couldn’t quite grasp what acting was and how pretending is different from what is real and apparent. She got pretty confused when I kept telling her that for a while I would pretend to be Papa. Kunwari ako si papa, ganyan. She couldn’t get it. Ha ha. Oh well, dinaan na lang sa impromptu script-revisions to allow her tantrums and crying to be part of the sequence.

Anyhow, I’ve been having bad dreams every night the past week. Apocalypse, death of loved ones, and even myself, tragedies, etcetera. It has become regular, it’s scary. It has come to a point that I don’t want to sleep anymore. Gabi-gabi bangungot na lang palagi. Well, it’s not as if I can avoid sleep altogether. I think I should re-learn to pray before sleeping at night. So there goes some random blurbs.

Hindi pa guma-graduate sa “prod”

August 19, 2008. I just came home a few hours ago from the first day of shoot of a group of Broadcast Communication and Film majors for a term project short video. Haha. I know, hindi na talaga ako gumraduate sa pag-“bida” sa productions. One semester right after my Mass Comm batchmates in a Broadcast Communication 130 (BC 130) class invited me to act in their production, I’m getting myself into another one. Even if I’ve graduated from Mass Comm! I didn’t ask for it, really. But how could I say no to a role like this: Patrick; law student, fratman, student council president, forced into marriage by unwanted pregnancy, went to the spiritual world to save the unwanted wife, and all-around nice guy (nah, dagdag ko lang ‘yun). It sounds… just like me? (I’m kidding!) Let’s see how this will turn out.

It felt nice being in student production-mode for a day. Relieved me quite of some current stress by reliving my past days as a Mass Comm student. Now I have to go back to Criminal Law readings. Law student pala talaga ako in real life.

Tope and Joma’s shoot

Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot

Two weeks ago, I passed by my film blockmates Tope and Joma’s thesis short film shoot in one of the quasi-abandoned building complexes in UP. Their thesis also sort of brushes up on political disappearances. Actually, another blockmates’ film also tackles the same theme. Having similar themes with the other theses don’t really bother me. For me it’s simply a manifestation of the social milieu our films are based and made on. I only stayed for a couple of hours that Saturday morning, as I had other things to attend to, so I was only able to catch the first few takes. Medyo bigatin ang thesis nila. They had Bembol Roco and Jason Abalos as their main actors.

“Katha” shoot Day 1

"Katha" Shoot Day 1 "Katha" Shoot Day 1

February 1, 2008. The day after my film thesis shoot, I passed by my friends’ own thesis shoot in UP Village. It was a set shoot, with all the bulky lights and equipment. It went on for almost twenty-four hours, but I didn’t stay on all the way. Eka and Patti were also shooting on 35 mm film, something I also planned on doing but eventually decided against it. Interestingly, we’re shooting at the same location, in the same apartment, in two weeks.

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Thesis Shoot Day 1

"Big Bro" First Shooting Day "Big Bro" First Shooting Day

January 28, 2008. First shooting day last Saturday, January 26, went okay. It’s been two days but there’s still a nagging feeling that suggests I am not entirely satisfied with the shots. I think we’re going to call for an additional shooting day to shoot more footage or re-shoot altogether. All our locations were outdoors and semi-guerilla. Our first location was at the Manila North Cemetery. Aside from the usual crowds who watch and make distracting noise, we didn’t encounter much problems.

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The day went by quite quickly. Since all our shots that day were outdoors, we didn’t have any artificial lighting, thus it was easy to shoot and move around. That proved to be quite an advantage when you’re not totally in control of your environment. For example, since we had a protest rally sequence, we coincided our first shooting day with an actual Mendiola rally (instead of staging/faking our own), which on that day was a commemoration of First Quarter Storm. We were, however, not able to schedule our shoot correctly so we had to rush and shoot everything we can before the protest action ended. We encountered some problems with the Manila Police, too, but everything was settled eventually. There’s an inconsistency with our actors’ police uniforms, I don’t know if people will notice.

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Thesis shoot at Quezon Boulevard

After having lunch with everyone in the production, we went shooting some footage along C.M. Recto. There were still a lot of cops around–good thing we didn’t get into trouble for having a bulky camera around. After waiting for some friends to join us and help, we proceeded to Quezon Boulevard and shot some police chase scene. I was trying to edit the sequence yesterday, and it really made me feel that we didn’t shoot enough. I’ve talked to my thesis partner and we decided to re-shoot this sequence. The stills look okay, though.

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Bed scenes all over

I had little to do last Sunday, though I had a finals exam in Communication 141 the next day, so when Bianca asked me to help out in her group’s Film 114 shoot, I said yes. She did play as our cinematographer in our own Film 114 shoot.

Let me tell you, you won’t survive in the film institute without good working and cordial relations with your batchmates or film orgmates. We all become each other’s production assistants, cinematographers, production managers, assistant directors, etc. from one production to another, which I can say is selfless in a way since we’re all good friends anyway. In reality we are also ‘paid’ with food and perhaps in the intangible assurance that your film friends will help you out in your own productions.

It’s all mutual. The shoot was in some mansion in Alabang. The shoot lasted the whole day till around 9 in the evening, but I left Alabang before the sun went out because I still had an exam to study for the next day. I took a 1.5-hour bus ride all the way back to Quezon City.

I did notice that most of our batch’s Film 114 productions this semester have bed scenes. What a binding motif. Hehe.

Sawang-sawa na ako sa mais

Hm, nako-conscious na tuloy ako mag-blog ng bagong entry, with the surge in traffic and attention. Even people in school are congratulating me. I still find it sort of weird, being recognized for an online journal. My group mates and I finally finished editing and re-editing our documentary for documentary class this morning. We’ve been at it for two almost-sleepless nights here at my room. It’s really no good if you start shooting a documentary without a detailed outline or even an edit log. We ended up with hours and hours and hours of footage that we (actually, I) had to sift through and sort out and trim into a ten minute documentary with a coherent story. Whew, we pulled it off nonetheless. I’ll upload the documentary in a few days.

While waiting for our documentary to render and to be burned into a DVD, Eka was playing with Tisay and it was sort of amusing because the baby was unusually cheerful, when she normally isn’t if she’s around strangers. Eka eventually took photos of me with Tisay.