filmmaking, movies, musings

INA NYO

it’s official! c1 originals festival 2017 just posted on their facebook page that our short film, INA NYO, is in competition! thrilled that cinema one originals under ronald arguelles took it in. we finally have our world premiere! wohoo!

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INA NYO is a short film directed by Mary Grace Evangelista and was part of her final requirements for her film program under NYU-TISCH. Ina Nyo (Your Mother) is a day in the life of Ana, a young housemaid in Manila, and her quiet resilience as she is hassled by the family she has come to care for and know. While desperate to send more money to her mother, her job is suddenly jeopardized when the rivalry of the siblings and their desire for her go too far. Ana struggles with how to maintain her livelihood.

was introduced to mary online through her brother, eric. it wasnt until she was about to shoot that i got to really meet her. as i couldnt do her design work for this project, i tapped my art directors kitch napigkit, to be prod designer, and arman montallana, to be prod manager. and since i was supervising the local team and logistics, i got swept into the whirlwind of producing without realizing it. grateful to have done it but im not sure if i did a pretty decent job. i should remind myself to sit in bianca balbuena’s workshops next time.

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production meeting when the crew from new york arrived. from left: me, arman (prod manager), JP habac (assistant director turned coordinator), mikee (stylist), kitch (PD), mary (director), joanne (DOP), charlie (AC), and falko (gaffer).

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notes between kitch and me discussing/consulting design and requirements.

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it’s been a while since mary and i saw each other (we briefly spent an afternoon a few weeks ago with brother eric and his partner stan) so i decided to do a short interview about her thoughts behind INA NYO and her future plans. a first for this blog! always wanted to do an interview so here goes.

tell us a little bit more about writing and developing this story. there are a lot of strong women also in the film. what are your thoughts on feminist filmmaking?

I grew up surrounded by tough women who worked as caretakers, cleaning ladies and nannies. I was inspired by their stories and their resilience. My mom and her best friend, Tita Lina would chismis about work and they’d tell these amusing stories that were sometimes pretty tragic – but it was always told in a way that empowered. There was a lot of laughter growing up so the somber ending to the film is more of my own doing in this case. I am a feminist so naturally I feel my filmmaking will be reflective of that as well.

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it seems this story is relevant more than ever. how do you feel about this with the current weinstein gate?

Weinstein sucks. When I was writing the script I had a professor who couldn’t understand why Ana would give in to John, as if she let herself get assaulted. That was frustrating and alarming because of course she doesn’t – no one is ever asking for it. With the story I wanted to explore how as women we’re constantly navigating these power dynamics and it’s hard to know what the right answer is in situations especially when you feel trapped.

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tell us a bit more about shooting this film

It was incredible to shoot in the Philippines. When you and JP came on board that’s when it all came together and suddenly I found myself on set with thirty people waiting for direction, a generator, a signal number 2 typhoon wreaking havoc and lots of art and production design.

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I also love how my friends who came with me from the States bonded with your team and we became a little family. Lots of Taglish and even some beki lingo were spoken in-between takes and generally it was a playful set which counterbalanced the dark material and the grueling schedule.

any thing else you are currently developing? a full length perhaps? what’s next for you?

I’m working on a couple projects including writing a feature length version of Ina Nyo. It’s set in the Bay Area California (where I mostly grew up) and follows Ana’s rocky first summer in the States while both she and her mom work as domestics and hide from the immigration authorities.

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catch the short film in the shorts program! screening schedule listed below!

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art & design, filmmaking, movies, musings

si chedeng, si apple, at si elvie

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im currently shooting a new film for cinema one originals with two of the most gorgeous women on the face of the earth, gloria diaz and elizabeth oropesa. these two ladies worked previously on the 1974 cult classic, Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa, and aptly titled too because even at their current ages, their beauty is unparalleled.  one can only wish theyd age gracefully as these two have.

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i grew up knowing i had family relations with gloria diaz. my middle name is, in fact, diaz; my mother had explained my grandfather and gloria’s father were cousins (and we have connections also on the florendo side of things). to get to work with her for this film is a dream come true but i took my time before letting ms gloria know of this family connection. i preferred to get to know her better first. the first time we met up with ms gloria to discuss film costume requirements, she told us she can provide day clothes but doesnt have sleeping outfits because she only wears gowns and her crown to sleep! a true beauty queen inside and outside, she turned out to be warm, generous, and with a fabulous sense of humor. so when i call her tita gloria, there is more than a kevin-bacon-6-degree truth to that. i, thank you. charot.

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shot in manila and cebu and features awesome cebuano talent behind the camera (director, producer, dop and camera crew, sound crew, etc), “si chedeng, si apple, at ang louis vuitton” is directed by fatrick tabada (writer of sleeper-hit patay na si hesus) and rae red (co-writer of birdshot), based on a fabulous script by tabada. cinematography by don gerardo frasco, production design by carlo tabije and myself (cdo reprezent), produced by bianca balbuena, and executive produced by ronald arguelles, this film is a finalist at the 2017 cinema one originals film festival on november 12-21.

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art & design, filmmaking, musings, travel

wanderlust: rome

rome. magnificent rome. bella italia. where do i start?

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ive been to rome and venice in 2006, joining brillante mendoza in presenting his 2nd film, KALELDO, to that year’s rome international film festival. it would be my first time outside asia, having only travelled to hong kong the year before because of mendoza’s first film as well, MASAHISTA, which was screened there.  we travelled with producer, ferdie lapuz, and actress, cherry pie picache. staying for around 4 days, we were in rome for 3 days, saw the vatican, and a day in venice plus visiting murano island. needless to say it was a very short stay and we were just skimming over what we could discover and see in italy.

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this year, carlo and i worked on production design for bradley liew’s first feature film, SINGING IN GRAVEYARDS. a gorgeous portrait of an aging impersonator, joey “pepe” smith, who performs in bars as aging rockstar, joey “pepe” smith. i say gorgeous because the range of emotions we got from pepe smith’s non-acting acting is sublime and the environment (including our design work on the sets) captured on anamorphic lenses on a 2.39:1 aspect ratio is breathtaking. char. bradley claims he did not grade larry manda’s camera work. this film was included in the critic’s week section of the 73rd venice international film festival this year, which was why bradley, bianca balbuena (brad’s co-writer, producer, & girlfriend), mickey (sound design), tracy, (executive producer), and carlo and myself (production designers) plus pepe smith flew to italy to attend the festival.

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we finally got our screening schedules and the film was gonna be premiering towards the latter half of the festival. our visas granted us around 15 days to be in italy so carlo and i decided to max out that opportunity and see more of italy so we flew to rome and milan first before heading to venice for the festival.

after 10 years, im finally back in rome!

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rome was monumental and grand and delicate and massive and really the superpower history books said it was during the age of empires and gladiators and eating off grapes from the hands of slaves. while we stayed 2.5 days in rome and saw a lot of stuff, we still missed out on other sights and exhibits in the city. our milan hosts reckon we needed maybe 7 days to explore more of rome and i think i agree with him.

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the altar of the fatherland. only got to see this from afar before. it’s sooooo big. everything is big in rome. you can imagine what the great caesars wanted to impose on humanity back in the day for what rome represented.

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im loving the landscape of rome. those trees in the far distance evoke memories from childhood storybooks and pictures from encyclopedia, now real and alive and tangible. no wonder artists drew like that. id probably say the same when i get to visit japan. lol. walking around laurel trees, it was strangely amusing to smell them and be reminded of home and adobo. i think i will plant laurel trees in my home. and cypress. and this pine thing. and olive trees if i can find it in mindanao. awesome to see them mixed with calachuchi and calamansi bushes and talisay. i think i need a bigger piece of land.

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umm, this painting was gorgeous. hi kuya 😉 we probably followed this guy from here in the vatican museum all the way to the sistine chapel. then we lost him. then he passed by us again while we were having dinner near the pantheon. choz. he nodded at us and we would have invited him over for pasta had he not walked so fast. see, we’re not stalkers. lol

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a detail of a wall painting of raphael (one of the ninja turles) in the vatican museum. that’s him in the black hat looking at us from the corner.

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every inch in the vatican museum is art. the church is the biggest patron of the arts, evident here in every room of the museum. i do wonder how nudity got to be so taboo when a lot of the depictions in art in the most holy of places are in the nude. paintings and sculpture of men and women all naked, loved by popes and the clergy. on display.

no pics of the sistine chapel, pinagbabawal. there were a few who defied and stole some photos but carlo and i felt we were too enthralled by michelangelo’s frescoes to bother taking photos. a lot of times, we felt photos do not give justice to the masterpieces on display, esp the frescoes in the sistine chapel. we stayed maybe an hour just looking up. gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

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the tapestries in this room is grabe na! dako kaayu!

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mosaic detail on the floor.

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a marble sculpture of laocoon and his sons, excavated in rome and now on permanent display at the vatican museum. gorgeous! according to google/wikipedia, this is in the hellenistic baroque style. char.

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wandered into a music shop near our airbnb in rome. always fascinated by shops in europe, they carry a lot of items despite its size. sa pilipinas, it would have to be some big franchise shop to carry this much varied merchandise in good condition. even the 2nd hand shops in cubao dont carry this kind of working, usable condition of merch.

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this time i got to see the colosseo up close and personal. chos. ancient rome is crazy, i tell you, to build such a massive building where people battled and died all in the name of entertainment. bloody thirsty masses watching and deciding the lives of slaves and warriors. hmmm, how very pilipinas lang now. never knew we became so blood thirsty, thrilled of the numbers of dead people popping up in the streets of manila. and how we ridicule and humiliate and curse at people on social media. wow. like the ancient romans? in my lifetime? but going back, maganda. pero masakit. the church with its riches despite the massive poor struggling to make ends meet. the relics of a mighty stadium reminds us of a brutal past. and we dont really learn from it.

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the oculus at the pantheon. i wasnt able to visit this in 2006 and this turned out to be absolutely one of my favorites in rome. i was surprised with the interiors, with the different colored marble sculptures and niches and that impressive hole in the ceiling.

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ang olive oil sa italy. bow. i heard a little about the olive oil mafia in italy, where the version we have commercially available isnt pure olive oil anymore. and only one family is supposedly controlling the olive oil industry. while in florence, our host told us not to use the cheap olive oil and instead use his stock of a slightly higher priced olive oil for our pasta. granted masarap nga. pero yung sinasabi niyang cheap oil ay isa na sa mahaling brand available sa pinas (bertolli). so ano nalang kaya yung mahalin sa kanila? wohoo. coconut oil nalang.

IMG_6280.jpg#gwapulis. in the vatican museum.

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local art in the neighborhood. diba kalorks. instant beauty everywhere. ingani ilang street art. atoa kay struggling but getting there. nothing wrong with mmda art really and sometimes i like that, ako ay engineer ako ay nurse thing. we need more subversive art though. lol.

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one cannot be in italia without eating gelato. the difference is that gelatos in italy are not as sweet as we have in manila. big difference for me kay dili kaayu ko tig-kaon ug ice cream. a bit cheaper also in italy. 150 to 200 pesos up per cone. mahal diay gihapon. haha

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thankfully they finished renovating/fixing the trevi fountain, one of the most gorgeous sights in rome, made more famous because making wishes at this fountain is 86% more effective than in other fountains. i made that up.

i did throw my coins back in 2006 (not in 2005 as i originally thought). and here i am back in italy. dreams come true, especially when you work for it and aim for it and save up for it and everything else in between.

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for more pics, check out my facebook photodump album for rome. cheers and leave me a comment here in my blog if you like this sort of thing. char.

up next: milan, dahlin’, milan.

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filmmaking, laundry therapy, musings, travel

evading the paparazzi

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had a grand time in karlovy vary celebrating its 51st international film festival and especially because our film was part of the festival. aside from kapatiran (brotherhood), lav diaz’s 8-hour opus, hele sa hiwagang hapis, and brillante mendoza’s cannes entry, ma’rosa (which won jaclyn jose her biggest international acting award), were also screened in karlovy vary.

but more than anything, i particularly love the paparazzi theme of the festival. and with that, we staged our own.

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producer, bianca balbuena

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production designer, benjamin padero

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production designer, carlo tabije

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director, pepe diokno

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director, pepe diokno, and associate producer, royd santiago

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production designers, benjamin padero and carlo tabije

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thug life editor, benjamin tolentino

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

ABOVE THE CLOUDS BEHIND THE SCENES: Production Design

during the shoot of pepe diokno’s 2nd full length feature, ABOVE THE CLOUDS, last year, bradley liew, a malaysian filmmaker, was tasked to create short featurettes for the film’s behind the scenes. bradley and pepe were able to release the first two featurettes that discussed the director’s vision and our 2 lead actors even before we finished shooting the whole thing. the 4th episode in this series, released just a few weeks ago, was about the production design and featured us 😉 as much as the requirements on paper seemed simple enough, it is not. whether you are designing for 2 actors on screen or 500, all film projects require careful planning and attention to detail. watch this vid and see if we actually made sense. the shoot of ABOVE THE CLOUDS took almost a year to do so my hair also went into different lengths and feels haha. cheers!

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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, musings

ABOVE THE CLOUDS Production Diary #1

here’s a behind the scenes video produced to promote the film we are currently working on. we’ve already done about 80% of the movie and we’re down to the last 8 days of shoot by may 2013. here’s the first video released on the making of ABOVE THE CLOUDS.

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