art & design, filmmaking, movies, set design

ABOVE THE CLOUDS Production Diary #2

the next installment to the behind the scenes videos for ABOVE THE CLOUDS was released a few days ago. here it is:


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the 1st video is posted here.

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art & design, filmmaking, movies, set design

shooting just below the clouds

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it’s day 9 for our shoot of pepe diokno’s above the clouds with protegé’s ruru madrid and philippine rock legend pepe smith. we started with about 5 days of shoot in baguio before moving to sagada, also in the mountain province. altitude in baguio is about 1600 meters and attitude is ubber cool. temperature during the day is about 22 deg celsius and evenings drop to 14 although it felt more like 10 degrees.

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One thing i love about pd work with locations is that we get to go ahead of the team and sometimes make stops when we like, like taking a photo at the famous Lion head along the highway. With carlo and me is ramon recana, art director.

One of our main sets in baguio was pepe smith’s character’s house. It had to look rundown and textured and his emotions are boxed up in storage for a later reveal. It was challenging not to go overboard with the clutter and it was fun shooting in that location in camp allen, not to mention it wasnt as cold as shooting the exterior scenes at night.

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Photos from home used as a prop. At the upper left corner is a photo of my sister, tina, when she was about 3 years old.

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Me standing in so i could have this shot

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Director Pepe Diokno takes a break on our set

first time for us to work with Pepe Diokno, who directed his first film Enkwentro that got him the Lion of the future award in 2009 at the venice film festival. This would only be his second film and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. Producer bianca balbuena was the one who brought us into the project along with the motley crew from jerrold tarog’s other films: ben tolentino (script con), nicholas varela (sound recordist), cris aquino (ad), and on-set mascot oniel parker (pm). First time to also work with dop carlo mendoza, tonee acejo (lp), mark locsin (sound recordist and engineer), and a slew of others.

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This man is a revelation. Pepe Smith on his guitar between takes.

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Me doing a pepe smith while playing the chords to a nirvana song (the only two guitar chords i know how to play)

currently we are now in sagada prior to climbing mt pulag. really enjoying the shoot. I thought id freeze to death in the mountains but i slowly adjusted to the weather and im enjoying the company of friends. It’s true you’ll never have to work a day in your life if you enjoy what you’re doing, like art directing the forest and designing for a film about a boy orphaned and finding where his home now lies above the clouds.

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music, set design, sketch

tuloy ang biyahe

designed the stage for noel cabangon’s recent concert “tuloy ang biyahe” for his music museum and peta performances. it would only be my 2nd time to work for director melvin lee as designer (did one of his virgin labfest plays) and my first to dress up the peta theater. did this sketch as quick as i could before the song ended as the concert was winding down to an end. click on image to enlarge

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i was headed for mindanao on the day of cabangon’s music museum run so i only got to supervise the ingress of the set and i missed watching the show. im glad i was able to catch the performance on its 2nd night (dec 14, 2012) at the peta as it was a fun ride. i know only a handful of noel’s songs but all were beautifully written and sung with so much passion. enjoyed his guests especially the APO (minus one), which i dont remember having watched perform live. gloc 9’s sirena was powerful as ever and ogie alcasid’s song writing skills are still topnotch as he sang two new songs. yet, it was always noel’s night and his brilliance in writing was clear and his voice unparalleled.

im glad i took this journey also in designing for theater and stage. it’s a different beast from designing for film as there are still factors ive yet to learn and take to heart. i wouldnt say my design for the concert was groundbreaking. maybe next time ill play more on concepts. needless to say, im excited in taking this new direction 🙂

here’s a video of kanlungan i took during the concert. i remember mike serrano in our little tambayan office at the back of the gg hall in CRL listening to a cassette tape (what year was this?) of buklod’s album and he introduced me to this song. the arrangement during cabangon’s concert “tuloy ang biyahe” was, in a word, magical. the string and wind section was awesome. love the slower tempo during the concert. just wasnt able to catch the first few minutes of the song. i do have a copy of the recording with the FILharmoniKA 😉

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here are my set sketches. took inspiration from train stations and our own mrt platforms. as the set had to be minimal i only built arches and a fence.

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set design, sketch

midnight ingress

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setting up at the peta theater in quezon city for the rerun of noel cabangon’s “tuloy ang biyahe.” my arches this time lack a few details from the previous set so im slightly disappointed not having the time to check the work in progress yesterday (was in a shoot). worked with direk melvin lee for a virgin labfest stage play at the ccp where my set consisted of fake boulders. now my set consists of posts and a cyclone fence. this would be my first time to work in this theater and as a fan, im excited.

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art & design, costume design, filmmaking, set design

movies coming up

excited that i have two movies to be screened in local theaters in the coming months. first is CAPTIVE by cannes winning director brillante mendoza. we shot this movie in january of last year but it took a long time for post work to finish in europe. after that, we had to wait until after the berlin film festival’s premiere before it could come home 😉

isabelle huppert, legendary french actress, stars as a missionary abducted along with a group of bakasyonistas by extremist group abu sayyaf in palawan in 2001. the story is based on the kidnappings that year, which included gracia burnham and her late husband, martin. the rest of the cast include raymond bagatsing, ronnie lazaro, angel aquino and sid lucero. here’s our facebook page.

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the movie will be showing in local theaters on september 5, 2012 under star cinema.

next is erik matti’s TIKTIK: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES, which was shot june last year and is going through more than a year of post-work because of the heavy cg requirements. the movie is slated to open in october this year, under GMA films in cooperation with reality entertainment.

i worked on the production design with australian pd peter colias (scenic designer for moulin rouge, dark city). first time for me to build a whole house in a studio. during the shoot, strawdog’s adrian espanol and dunn ledesma art directed for the film and cherry fortes and kitch napigkit were in-charge of wardrobe. setmen were buboy crauz’s boys and the guys from strawdogs. follow us on facebook here. here’s the teaser trailer:

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major awesome! long live pinoy movies! 😉

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art & design, costume design, filmmaking, interior design, set design

walk like an egyptian

havent blogged anything in a long time so whatevs, i always say that haha

anyway, we shot this eq diapers commercial last year following the story of cleopatra and two of her visitors, an arabian prince and a lowly hebrew woman. loved this shoot. the costumed dramas for eq diapers have become a series of some sort, starting with sonia two years ago, a mix of grecian, elizabethan and gothic influences. the next ad, solomon, i wasnt able to work on because i think i was doing a film then. the third ad in the series would be this one, shot in december last year but only aired in february of this year. posting pics from concept to final output.

SET DESIGN

drew inspiration from classical paintings of cleopatra and egypt.

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also looked into the set design of elizabeth taylor’s cleopatra, (1963) directed by joseph l. mankiewicz, production design by john de cuir (source imdb.com) and martin curtiz’s the egyptian (1954). 

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some of these pegs came from the director, mike alcazaren, and im not familiar with what television series they came from.

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original set design

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revised set design. the raised platform with pool would be too expensive to construct so i created two separate pool units instead. always wanted to do a set with water again. it’s been a long time haha

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construction plans in chamba perspective (to produce a drawn perspective without use of rulers and no actual measurements of vanishing points) with measurements for my builders (called setmen). in architecture school, we learned to work in the metric system. when i started working on film, i had to adjust when the setmen told me they worked in feet because materials in the philippines were cut in feet and inches. it actually makes sense. why measure out 2.4384 meters for a panel when you can just say 8 feet?

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art & design, set design

more corned tuna

we shot this the other year. i believe i only got to see this in full recently.


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did the set design with carlo, lola fer, paulie, etc.  as with the previous ad for san marino (also with dingdong and marian), i pitched in the costume design for the celebrities but they had their own stylists to work on their wardrobe. dingdong’s stylist is noel manapat.  i forgot the name of marian’s stylist (my bad, sorry about that) but he’s also from cagayan de oro and apparently his mom is a friend of my tita. small world!  😉

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art & design, filmmaking, interior design, musings, set design

production designer job description

taken in 2005 on the set of kaleldo, the 2nd feature length film dante mendoza directed and i designed for. here actress cherry pie picache is fixing her lapel while we look on. crazy times.

stumbled upon setdesign’s tweet about skillset’s article on the responsibilities of a production designer. although i took up architecture and interior design (once upon a time) and eventually got a degree in fine arts, i never really studied production design. there is no course on production design here in the Philippines, just a 3-unit subject offered under the film program, which i never took. in high school, i yearned to direct movies but never to design for film.  i counted on cesar hernando as a mentor in college but my training came from cannes winner brillante mendoza, when he was still known as dante mendoza, the production designer.   a friend of a friend recommended me to mendoza back in 2004 when i really didn’t have an idea what i would be getting into except the fact that i’d be involved in a shoot.  you may call me an accidental production designer, like most designers i know.

production design in the philippines is a tricky sort, one that hasn’t been formalized and standardized.  there are expectations but the working styles, commitment and the art department designations vary per designer. more often than not, here in the Philippines the production designer is a designer, art director, set decorator, wardrobe and props buyer in one.  when i was an apprentice for dante mendoza, i learned to juggle different requirements for various tv commercial projects all happening at the same time. our team ranged from 3-6 people per project with overlapping responsibilities. i later learned other tvc designers, like butch garcia and adelina leung, would have a different art department team for each project.  practices in production design also adjust slightly when working on film (independent and mainstream), print media, tv shows and music videos.

was offered to work as art director for an international ad recently. i immediately said yes, not only because i was excited to work with the celebrity talent but more because i would be working with an international production designer (and production staff).  the prospect of learning something new and hopefully improving my work as a designer and that of my team thrilled me.  add to this the fact that the director used to be a production designer as well raised the stakes but i was stoked and was more than eager to get the work started.

the skillset article breaks down what would be the ideal setup for the art department, something we local designers can hope to have and given the budget of most productions in the Philippines, we can only dream of. im reposting the whole article below

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art & design, costume design, musings, set design

expert lagundi

this is a super delayed blog post, especially since the tvc has almost stopped airing.

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worked with direk lyle sacris and cinematographer j.a. tadena on this tvc for ritemed lagundi (production house abracadabra, agency mccann worldwide). the requirement was to setup for 4 different period vignettes for a 1-day shoot. 2 of the vignettes were aided with CG backgrounds but i still had to setup a forest floor for my china set and some elements for the UP manila part. the thailand and europe vignettes were full studio dressups, the latter being the most challenging in terms of proppings.

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sketched this forest scene (above) to give clients an idea of what i would be setting up (below).

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here, our chinese actor (below) is putting a lagundi plant into one of tita tem’s old baskets i pulled out from our living room.

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