Saturday, July 29, 2006

Little Pro's

Those who've seen Ericka's and Tala's performances have only praise for them. Both are outstanding.

On the last shooting day, on their final sequence I was caught off guard by both girls. When they realized the shoot had ended for them, they both threw their arms around my neck and started howling. They nearly strangled me. I exaggerate not. When I could breathe again, I then understood how rich an experience Inang Yaya has become for Tala and Ericka. During the shoot, our world revolved around Louise and Ruby.

Ericka, "Louise" is Top 1 in her class. She finds romance amusing. She loves to sing. She doesn't like being told she's pretty. She bikes with training wheels. She can swim very well. She can cry on cue everytime. She's allergic to make-up so doesn't like it.

Tala, "Ruby" is into the arts. She even looks like an artist. She likes to draw but doesn't want to exhibit her drawings. She learnt how to swim and bike for the movie. Her favorite scenes are those which require her to cry. She's semi-vegetarian. She's very independent.

Ericka and Tala have brought so much of themselves into the characters of Louise and Ruby. We were so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them. They are true little pro's.

Marathon Editing

The past week we’ve been editing Inang Yaya. We’ve locked ourselves in Engine Room’s mini-theater and watched the movie take shape before our eyes. Together with editor, Randy Gabriel we lessened or lengthened scenes as required. Adjusting the head or tail of a take adds so much. Sometimes its that extended moment that triggers the viewers’ emotions.

When we were more or less satisfied with the edit, we did a backyard test. We called on whoever we could at the office to view it. Several scenes set off the responses we expected. We were quite surprised to have generated amused laughter on others. But when the lights went on, we weren’t prepared for the audience’s reaction. People wept.

Monday, July 24, 2006

How We Saw It... How It Was

It’s the director’s task to interpret the script into visuals. What is imagined is made real. For a more efficient shoot, we decided to do a photoboard. We were able to plot out the majority of the scenes using a director’s viewfinder and a mini-dv for documetation. We ourselves acted out the scenes. To stand in for the kids, we asked for volunteers. Our special thanks to Cassandra, Bettany, Monica, Andrea and Louise for being patient with us. It took us three days of going back and forth to the location to block and figure out angles. Looking back now, we weren’t that far off from how we saw it and how it was.

Scene 2:
Scene 3: Scene 8:

Scene 10 a:Scene 19:

Scene 44:

Scene 44a:

Scene 49a:

Scene 49:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Smushed-Face Girl

Yesterday we came across a journal site referring the IY blog to others. The girl with the smushed face in the Sinong Pipiliin na Louise o Ruby post, is the author’s godsister: Adriana Quimpo Chiu.

We adore Adriana. She stood out amongst many because of her distinctive character. To share with you the experience, we are publishing excerpts from the interview.

Jinky: Wow! Ang laki naman ng smile.

J: Anong pangalan mo ulit, sabihin mo, yung mahabang-mahaba. Aaaa-drina.


J: Ay, sorry mali. Adriana… tapos ano pa?

A: Quimpo Chiu

J: Ilan taon ka na ulit?

A: Five

J: Hindi ka sixteen ha? Sure ka ha?

A: Alam ko!

J: Anong favorite mong food.

A: Ampalaya.

J: Ampalaya!!! Mahilig ka sa ampalaya?! Hindi ba mapait?

A: Dati naman ‘yun e.

J: Ahh… dati nang mapait…

A: Hinde… dati akong kumakain….

J: Ngayon hindi na?

A: Hindi na. Kalabasa na ngayon.

J: Kumakain ka ba ng fish?

A: Tilapia.

J: Mahilig ka ba sa pets?

A: Opo.

J: Anong klaseng pets?

A: Bunny.

J: Aww…Meron ka bang bunny sa bahay?

A: Wala. Namamatay palagi.

J: Huh!!! Namamatay? Mahirap kasi mag-alaga ng bunny, no? Dog ayaw mo?

A: Ayaw ko. Meron na kami e. Sa kapit-bahay, ang dami. Maingay. Kapag gabi laging nag-aaway.

J: Ano kayang pinag-aawayan nila?

A: Ewan ko.

J: Eh yung pusa? Cat?

A: (exasperated) Pusa nga ‘yon.

J: Pusa ba ‘yon? E yung dog?

A: Isa lang.

J: Ahhh… Harap ka dito tapos tingin ka dito o. Tapos big smile na ginawa mo kanina.

J: Ayaw mo nang gawin?

J: Eh yung sad face mo na lang?

J: Ay! Sad face ba ‘yan?

J: E, angry face? Wala ka bang angry face?

A: Wala.

J: Big smile mo nga ako ulit.

Though she wasn't chosen for the cast, we love Adriana Quimpo Chiu. It’s hard not to.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sinong Pipiliin na Louise at Ruby?

Casting Louise and Ruby was difficult. Aside from calling on casters and agents, we ourselves scouted for little girls. We approached them at malls, theater workshops, restaurants, groceries... everywhere and anywhere.

For those who we invited and came, we are extremely grateful.
Thank you, girls!

Anong Mali D'on?

LOLA TOOTS: Alam ba ng Nanay mo na andito ka?

RUBY: Galit ho siya sa akin. Mas gusto na niya si Louise.

LOLA TOOTS: Paano nangyari 'yon? E ikaw ang anak niya.

RUBY: Kahapon binili niya ako ng sapatos. Pero fake naman, kaya ayokong suotin.

LOLA TOOTS: Naiintindihan kita. Ako man, ayoko ng fake.

RUBY: Tapos kaninang umaga, nakita ko na lang, suot ni Louise.

LOLA TOOTS: Sinuot ni Louise 'yung sapatos mo, kahit fake?

RUBY: Opo. Ngayon, galit silang dalawa sa akin.

LOLA TOOTS: Hmmmm.... Kailangan mong mag-sori.

RUBY: Ako magso-sori?! Bakit ako?

LOLA TOOTS: Sa palagay mo, bakit sinuot ni Louise 'yung sapatos mo?

RUBY: Kasi gusto niya kanya lahat. Swapang kasi siya. Nainggit, kasi wala siyang regalo.

LOLA TOOTS: Kung buhay ang lola mo, kukurutin ka n'on. Mali!

RUBY: Anong mali d'on?

LOLA TOOTS: Huwag kang tanga. Gamitin mo ang kukote mo. Bakit sinuot ni Louise 'yung sapatos na bigay ng Nanay mo?

Mapapaisip si Ruby.

RUBY: Kasi bigay ni Nanay?

LOLA TOOTS: Magaling.

RUBY: Pero kung sinuot ko 'yon, pagtatawanan lang ako nila Alexa at Margarita. Sasabihin nila, anak lang kasi ako ng katulong.

LOLA TOOTS:Sino naman si Alexa at Margarita?

RUBY: Busmates namin.

LOLA TOOTS: Mas importante pa ang mga busmates mo kaysa sa Nanay mo?

Ngayon lang mauunawaan ni Ruby na siya ang mali.

RUBY: Hindi po.

LOLA TOOTS: O, huwag kang iiyak! Kung iiyak ka lumayas ka dito! Baka akalain na naman ng Nanay mo, inaano kita!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

17 Days with Maricel Soriano

I’ve been told, when one writes, never peg an actor for your lead. Never write with a specific person in mind. Because if they say no, that’s it…. The world ends. But what if your dream star says yes?

I didn’t know what to expect when I first met Maricel Soriano. Her first words to me were, “Ang ganda ng treatment. Kailan natin gagawin ‘to?” Whoa!

I will never forget that moment. I felt I was a writer for real. Inang Yaya was going to be made into a film. For Maricel Soriano, it was only a question of when.

I’m not the sort who is easily awed. Actors for me are, well…. actors. No different from everyone else. Being star struck was alien to me, until I worked with Maricel.

I knew the exact instant she arrived on the set, Day 1. It maybe an exaggeration to say time stopped, but that’s how it felt. Everything came to a standstill. There was a collective SIGH from the whole barangay. It was beyond belief. The crowd’s adulation was close to worship. I was both impressed and incredulous.
Maricel Soriano is undeniably… a star. But how was it working with her? Each day, my respect for her grew.

Day 2: Seconds before action, we asked Maricel to change from pants to skirt. On the spot, she pulled up a skirt and pulled down her pants. In front of everybody. And just like that, she was ready to grind.

Day 3: In scene 23A, Norma leaves her daughter, Ruby. As touching as this sequence is, it was also one of the most difficult to shoot. We shot it under the noon time sun, from every conceivable angle -- again and again. In every single take, Maricel delivered.

Day 4: Disaster struck. We couldn’t do anything right. Every sequence shot that day we eventually had to reshoot. Save for one. When Maricel wanted to reshoot even that, I felt the full force of Murphy’s Law. She said it lacked honesty. The funny thing was, she was right.

Day 5: In casual conversations, the unspoken implies more than what is said. The topic was harmless enough: our children’s toys. At the end of it, Maricel revealed she always longed for a walking doll. The life-size ones in vogue during the ‘70s. Enrapt I watched as she play-acted walking hand in hand with one. The yearning for a childhood lost was unmistakable in her tone.

Day 6: Scence 42: Lola Toots accuses Ruby of stealing. I cried. Since then, I have watched scene 42 more than a dozen times and in every preview, embarrassing as it is to admit, I get choked up. The emotions captured are so powerful, you’d have to be heartless to remain unmoved. But on the shoot, everybody was all business. Especially Maricel. She repeatedly reviewed her “choreography” with the steadicam operator, who should stand where and when. She skillfully maneuvered Liza Lorena into position while the camera rolled. Off cam, her first concern was for Tala who was very shaken by the scene. In the making of Scene 42, we were privileged to witness a pro in action.

Day 7: While line reading, Maricel and I had a discussion on the nuances of “Ate” vs. “Ma’am”. I believe there is a ranking on how the household help address their employers. “Ma’am” is often used for the senior matriarch of the clan not necessarily the wife of “Sir”. “Ate” is only 2nd in the heirarchy. For Maricel, “Ate” connotes a more personal tone, signifying domestic familiarity. “Ma’am” however, is used in a more formal setting conveying respect. Both interpretations are valid. I not only appreciated Maricel’s insights but also admired her efforts to read between the lines.

Day 8: In Scene 31, Maricel insisted on waxing the floor, sans gloves, bare handed. Engaging in domestic chores appeals to her. She confided, when she was once required to clean the toilet in a previous film, she actually relished scrubbing the bathroom tiles.

Day 9: “Ewan ko ha, pero may naisip ako…” This was how Maricel approached me to suggest Scene 33A. “Nakikita ko, nagliliparan ang pulbos. Ano kaya kung maglaro ng pulbos ang mga bata?” Tala and Ericka needed no coaching, they had the most fun. What was unexpected was their ganging up on Maricel. They battered her with powder until backed into a corner, she pleaded for them to yield. It was hilarious.

Day 10: Mama Bec, Maricel’s sister shared with us this interesting anecdote: In a prior film, a minor character said to be a really good actor just couldn’t get it right, take after take. He was asked what was wrong. Exasperated he blurted, “Eto naman kasi,” pointing to Maricel, “’yung mga mata n’ya.”

Day 11:
In scene 72A, I asked Maricel to crochet me a coaster. She more than eagerly obliged. In a little more than two hours, she gave it to me. On that day I learned, we shared a passion for bed linen, table settings and Christmas decors.

Day 12: Though I’ve rewritten scene 70 repeatedly, I remained dissatisfied with the dialogue. My dilemma: how does a maid talk back to her employer without being insolent? I explained this to Maricel. She understood. What I couldn’t put down in words, she achieved in tone. In scene 70, while appearing subservient, Norma defies Lola Toots.

Day 13: At times we take actors of Maricel’s calibre for granted. They’re so highly skilled, we assume to cry on cue is effortless. In scene 66A, Ruby rejects her mother’s gift. Norma’s line, “E yan lang ang kaya ko,” is delivered with such distressing heartbreak, it is a wonder to watch. What the viewers won’t see on screen is Maricel’s painstaking efforts to set off these emotions before each take and her struggle to control herself after every cut. To see her agonized after repeated takes is disturbing.

Day 14: A few have asked how it is working with Maricel Soriano. Is she okay? The short answer to that is YES. I’m aware that many perceive Maricel as unapproachable. She definitely can be. I’ve been elected on several occasions by the staff to tell her this or that because they’re afraid. Not that I’m any braver than they are, but I just find it easy to talk to her. If you appreciate honesty delivered in utmost candor, you’ll like Maricel. She’ll tell you what she thinks point blank.

Day 15: Maricel doesn’t go malling. She can’t. While shooting in ATC, we needed five security personnel to escort her to the van. In that short trip, from the mall to the parking lot, people swarmed around her. It was fascinating. Comparable to watching a huge cluster of amoeba-like organisms moving as one. How celebrities deal with their fish bowl existence is incomprehensible. Fame comes at too steep a price.

Day 16: Scene 39: Louise nearly drowns during her 7th birthday party, Ruby saves her. This was the day of the big scene. We had shots underwater, shots on the crane, shots using a steadicam, a two camera set-up, a crowd of extras. I rue ever writing scene 39. It was a nightmare. Running around, I saw Maricel smiling at me. She asked, why was I folding towels? I answered, you have to do what you can all around. Why we both laughed is still a puzzle to me.

Day 17: Maricel and I chatted while she had oatmeal for lunch. On several occasions we had this recurring conversation. She’d tell me how much she likes the film, and I’d tell her, “Sana magawa natin ng tama.” Everytime she would get annoyed with me for my remark. I can’t help it. I worry. This is our 1st and maybe our only. But no matter the outcome, we will be grateful no end. Maricel Soriano’s faith in Inang Yaya has made it possible for us to live our dreams.

Maraming salamat, Marya.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Missing the Diamond Star

I was able to catch Persona on CinemaOne with Maricel Soriano. Tamang-tama kakatapos lang yung Federer-Nadal Wimbledon championship. Talo si Nadal! Had to switch channel after seeing Federer in white champion's jacket habang nakashorts!Sagwa!
Maricel's interview with Direk Wen Deramas was entertaining. Nakakaaliw din yung edited clips ng iba't ibang pelikula ng ating Norma. I still couldn't believe that I was able to work with one of the best actresses in Philippine Cinema. She prepares for her role and studies the script by heart.
I still couldn't forget the experience everytime I see her walk towards the set for a take. She has this mesmerizing, gleaming superstar aura but when she steps right into the frame, she gently pulls down her yaya-costume-blouse... simpleng hatak lang... and then MAGIC!...she becomes Norma the yaya! Amazing! I will never forget the experience.

CinemaOne celebrates this July with a Maricel Soriano, Ang Natatanging Diamond Star Filmfest.
Nuod tayong lahat and be mesmerized!

Thanks also for all the IY bloggers! 500 hits for its first week! Have a great week everyone!

Congrats Sol!

Soliman Cruz, our acting coach/father of Tala Santos is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" at the URIAN 2006. Sol's role as Paco, the father of Maxie is one of the most memorable performances in the film. He also was Nathan Lopez's(Maxie) acting coach in the critical scenes of the film.
After a string of critically acclaimed stage performances last year, he is currently involved in numerous independent digital film projects and telenovelas. Sol cameos also in Inang Yaya. His latest performance is in Jeffrey Jeturian's "Kubrador". On a roll si Sol!
Congrats and thank you for sharing with us your talent and expertise. Isang bagsak para kay Soliman!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Endearing Louise & Ruby

The chuckles, laughter, tiny footsteps running on and off the set made each shooting day a lot lighter. Our Louise(Erika) and Ruby(Tala) are no ordinary kids. They have risen above about a hundred kids eager to share their charm and talents with us. Their task was a humongous one - to become the perfect Louise and Ruby of the IY script and to complement the quality and performance level of our star, Maricel Soriano as well as the rest of our adult cast.

They did beyond what was expected of them. There were no complaints, no whining, no major misbehaviors, no mood swings. There were indeed the perfect Louise and Ruby!

Our special thanks to Tala’s parents, Soliman Cruz and Roence Santos, great actors/mentors themselves, for helping us bring out Erika and Tala’s best performances.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Imagining LOUISE & RUBY

While scrounging around my PC hard drive for archived Inang Yaya files, I was able to find a few images I want to share with you. These were made late January this year using an old favorite 3D figure animation software. Inang Yaya was still in its early stage of production, way before the first casting call for Louise and Ruby characters.

I created them while Ronnie was fine tuning early drafts of the script. RUBY’s image was actually based on Tala Santos. I met her during her Dad’s (Soliman Cruz-Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros fame) birthday party at Penguin CafĂ©, September last year. Tala reminded me of a young Hilda Coronel. I went home that night and told Ronnie that I just met our Ruby. Louise’s image was based on Ronnie’s daughter, the original Louise. I was planning to use the figures for storyboarding but found it too tedious and we opted to do the photoboards.

It’s my visual interpretation of how LOUISE and RUBY would look after being captivated and inspired by Ronnie’s first draft of Inang Yaya.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Preparing for IY

Doing a full length film project is a serious business. It is a daunting task to keep the production on budget and on time. More than the art aspect it is also commerce. It requires discipline and careful planning especially when you want your material to reach a wide audience.After more than 15 years of doing TV commercials, Inang Yaya is indeed a welcome break for Ronnie and me. Our TV commercial experience at Unitel helped us greatly in providing measures that would keep us on track for the duration of the shoot not only in making sure we have the appropriate visual translation of the script. We tried our very best to plan each sequence, each shot before the first day of shoot.

Scene 9. Location check photo / Scene 9. Photoboard

After breaking down the script and finalizing our locations for most of the scenes, we tried to pre-visualize each scene- the blocking of the actors, camera movement and lensing. We did several visits of the final locations along with the Gary Gardoce, our director of photography and his gaffer, Jeff Baltazar and production designer, Reji Regalado. We brought along video and still cameras, viewfinder and a cine lens set to simulate every shot. Making the photoboard and floorplan really made a major difference, technical difficulties and other concerns were more or less settled before actual photography. There were less discussions on the set giving more time in fine tuning the blocking/camera work of each scene and more time for rehearsals.

Scene 9. Floor plan / Scene 9. Actual shoot (BTS shot)

It was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. If given the chance to do another film I would devote more time and effort to the pre-visualization stage.This is part of our commitment to our producers to make sure that every aspect of the project is in order. This is also our way of taking care of our talents, especially our actors Maricel Soriano, Tala Santos, Erika Oreta and our staff and crew. This is our way of paying them back for their untiring commitment to this project. There are snags but most of the time we still finish each shooting day with enough time to rest and regain our strength for the next shooting day.