Sunday, November 30, 2008

Building 28 Here I Come

Day Two in the can. Yay! It was fairly light despite the many weird little episodes today.

The Baranggay Captain came over on his dinky motorbike. He was eating a bag of chips when I came down in a sporty black and white ensemble accented with fuchsia socks. Ugh. So gross. I had to do back to that little outpost and get another clearance permit and cough up another two grand for it. He wanted 2500 but I wouldn't give him the satisfaction. He had his girlfriend in tow, by the way. She wore a mint green tank top and tight jeans and called me "Ate". Double ugh.

And then there was a huge crack in the awning of Juan's apartment. Uh oh. Thank goodness for the Art Department! A little nip here, a little tuck there. Now it looks better than ever. Honestly, this building is going to look fabulous in this movie. The old dame is seeing some good times.

While trying to savor Trisha's gourmet fish burger over lunch, I had to give someone counseling for an hour on the fire escape. No, I did not do both things at the same time. So I put the burger down, grabbed a last french fry. When I got back, the fries were wiped out and I was a little wiped out as well.

But all in all, not too shabby. We wrapped at 7 pm and had a fabulous Asian noodle style dinner and some ice cream. Mateo brought me a red rose from the mini mart around the corner, so sweet of him. I'm taking it as a good sign. Please Saint Rita, make this your impossible cause. Keep us going until the end.

I have to get up at 4 am tomorrow. I only ever get up that early for flights. I'm not flying to anywhere, I'm going to Smokey Mountain.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

toy drive updates

My friend Venisse and her kids Danielle and Alix have made the first donation to our toy drive! Yay! Now there's a balikbayan box full of toys and books sitting in my car.

For donations, please get in touch with me. The more the merrier, right? We actually have three scenes that involve the local kids, and I would like to give them something after the shoot.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Meet the Gang

It's our day off! Our first day of shooting went smoothly enough, it was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I can only think one day in advance. If I plan too far into the future, I will surely have a mini breakdown.

Anyway, here are the amazing people working on this film...

Mateo Guez (director): this chatty Frenchman with the cute lisp is the captain of our strange ship. We love him to bits. He's single by the way. We're trying to set him up with someone but he's super picky. Go figure.

Francois Dagenais (DOP): likes good food, good wine, and is a total film geek. I must say that Manila has never been shot the way Francois is doing it for this film.

Miss Dawn Dizon, (1st Assistant Director) 25. She's super efficient, always cheerful, very sweet, nurturing, and wholesome. She is living proof that good girls win in the end. Here's Dawn with her pet Leeroy.

Alec Humphries (2nd AD), 22. Alec is a total sweetheart and is very enthusiastic about working in movies. On the set, he acts as translator for Mateo and Francois because he speaks English, French, and Filipino.

The Lovely Julia Nebrija (Location Manager for Smokey Mountain), 24. She's super smart, sassy, independent, funny, and great with people. We would be lost in Smokey without her. Bim-Bim here calls her "Mama Julia" and Mateo "Daddy Macho".

Leeroy New (Production Designer), 22. Brilliant and cute. What more can I say? I want to frame all the watercolors Leeroy has done for our different sets. Apparently he's going to color coordinate the garbage in Smokey.

Kermit Tesoro (Wardrobe), 21. This kid is something else. He's a fashion designer, an artist, an all around magic fairy.

Caio Cadiz (Sound): he's our steady bear. Caio hasn't slept all weekend because he had an out of town wedding. Poor guy.

Trisha Greentree (Caterer), 24. Francois loves her food and that says a lot. Trisha can do pasta with feta, spinach, and squash AND adobo with baby potatoes, among other things. She can also do a pot of minestrone soup with ingredients gathered from the local 7-11.

Juan Caguicla (behind the scenes documentation). My downstairs neighbor and giver of strangely mature relationship advice. Doesn't he look hot in this picture?

And then there's me. Look at those eye bags! And that dorky mask! Oh well. I'm kind of dreading the germs. I have anti bacterial hand gel and wet wipes and a can of Lysol. Of course I'm up against mountains of trash and goodness knows what else so maybe I should just accept it with no resistance.

Someone told me "Germs can't touch you but fear in the mind can." Now I'm fearless. Plus I have those rubber boots.

Day One: North Syquia

Our big lights set up. Well, not really that big. But enough for the Baranggay to notice. I had to take a pedicab to the local Baranggay outpost and haggle over the price of a permit. I had to haggle with the pedicab driver too.

Inside Juan and Trisha's apartment. We finally shot at 4pm. Three hours behind schedule but who's counting?

First location: Julia's Apartment. The coffee table from my apartment was brought downstairs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bank Travails

We spent 2 hours and 30 minutes in the bank this morning trying to get enough cash to pay for film and equipment for our first shooting day. Mateo was on the phone with his bank in Paris for half an hour trying to explain the situation. The bank clerk was giving us attitude so I gave her attitude right back.

Here we are waiting on hold with Mateo's bank in France. We kind of look like tourists but we're fucking stressed out.

But the film arrived, the crew is here, and everything is seemingly coming into place. All I need now is my lead actor who is apparently somewhere in Greenhills buying boxer shorts...

The Day Before

I'm strangely calm despite the chaos going on in the world. There's twelve million things I have to do before we start shooting tomorrow but all I secretly want to do is watch the news and eat carrot cupcakes.

What the hell is going on in Mumbai?

Mateo and I have decided that after this film, all we want to do is get married and lead domestic lives. Of course, he's gay and Jewish so I can't marry him. He says he loves me but I know I'm not really his type. What is it about me and hot gay guys? We make a good team, though.

Yesterday while I worked on the story, Mateo had his story conference with three of our actors who are all fucking amazing. Casting was a bit of a nightmare but I'm glad everything happened the way it did.

Final production meeting at 8pm tonight. I'm still amazed with the level of talent and passion of all the people we're working with.

So come hell or high water, tomorrow we shoot six scenes. Wish us luck. Happy Thanksgiving. Honestly, there's a lot to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Power of Apocalypse Now

Fucking honestly. The closer we get to our first shoot day, the crazier it gets. Everyday something comes up. Thank goodness I have a quiet moment this afternoon to get baked, blog a bit, and finally work on that one pager I need to submit to our investor. It may sound like I'm complaining but I'm actually not. A little writing time is all I really want.

I bought a printer today at Office Warehouse whilst trying to deal with a crew fallout. Wow. I thought that was tough, what about trying to install the damned printer? (It's kind of cool: an el cheapo Epson unit that eats up half my tiny desk.). I have to print stuff life contracts and script pages and whatnot. Ugh.

Julia is in Smokey again doing a walk through with O.G. Sacred. Julia and Shielbert sitting on a tree....

Hilarious. What about a romantic comedy between a Fulbright scholar and a gang leader?

Hmm. Time to write.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Digging in the Dirt (well, shit actually)

Up at 6 am today. I had six hours of sleep, which could mean that I'm a crabby bitch again. But I need to keep it together. A mini breakdown is not an option right now.

Don't you just love it when you check your messages first thing after waking up and it's more problems piling up? Everyday is a battle.

It's simple: just keep finding solutions.

The film issue has been resolved. We've decided to go Super 35 instead of Super 16. It's going to look Super Amazing.

Today Julia and the Frenchies go back to Smokey for another walk through. They have a rendezvous with O.G. Sacred. I can't wait to meet him myself. I want to write about him someday.

Finally got the name and email address of the guy from Ayala Land who is in charge of the empty lot in Tondo. I sent him a nice email and I really hope they allow us to shoot the Big Kiss in the PMC Compound. It's going to look amazing. I wonder if there are more giant owls roosting in that damn field.

Meeting with potential investor went fairly well, I think. She's really cool. Sharp as hell and kind of eccentric. She asked many probing questions and basically told me that the synopsis I sent her was not good enough. So today I have to churn out a fucking awesome one pager (with a log line) that will compel her to see the beauty of our story and convince her that it's going to be a hit.

Despite all the shit we're wading through right now, we're still somehow going forward. I'm kind of tired and almost at the end of my proverbial rope, but I can't stop now. We shoot in three days no matter what.

Monday, November 24, 2008

hari om

Looking at budgets this morning. I hate numbers. Thank goodness Mateo and our priceless 1st AD Dawn are pounding it out. I'm kind of useless right now.

Thank you to everyone sending positive thoughts and good energy to us today.

paging disaster management services

Argh. Technology has failed me again. My phone won't charge!

And today I found out that the fucking film stock is useless. I made twelve million calls to make sure that Francois and the film would arrive safely in Manila, but Air Canada sent the film (not Francois) by mistake to Japan.

Award. For the record, I'm never going to fly Air Canada.

So anyway we had to go back to the airport to claim the film as lost baggage. Apparently the film went through X Ray over and over thus rendering it fully fogged--with waves and dots, kind of like a bad acid trip. Goodbye to our entire stash of 16 mm.

Thankfully Mateo was fairly calm today when he received the news from me and Francois. As my director sucked on his light menthol cigarettes and drank his two diet Cokes, we discussed our options. I had a cappuccino and a single puff.

Suddenly, 35 mm seems like a viable option. At this point, anything is possible.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

security measures

O.G. Sacred is my man. He was super nice. I've never talked to a gang member before but I grew up in the suburbs, go figure. I'm kind of looking forward to meeting him in person. Our asses are covered in Smokey Mountain. Between the baranggay tanods and the gang members, we should be okay. What do we feed the gang members, I asked Trisha. We're coming up with a "good will merienda" menu.

Mateo is having a celebratory beer and I'm dying for a celebratory burger. Sigh.

Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O'Hara said.

To Do List

Off World team working hard on a Sunday

Things To Do:

1) Call Ayala Land and ask permission to use the empty field. According to the Baranggay Captain, Ayala is pissed because a news crew came one day to film without a permit. "How were supposed to know that we needed a permit that day?" asked the good captain. Fair enough. And what, pray tell was the news crew filming? The locals were trying to catch a giant owl in the field. A giant owl. I'm not kidding. The question remains: where is the giant owl now?

2) Call Tondo Gang Leader: O.G. Sacred. Wow. How do I address him? Sir? Chief? Boss?

3) Call IM to confirm meeting. Honestly. She'll be my new best friend if she gives us funding.

4) Watch sunset.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

gloomy sunday

It's a rainy Sunday morning and the cookies I baked earlier are cooling on the racks. Today is our big production meeting. To boost morale, I'm going to serve chocolate chip cookies. I'm in Alabang for a day and a half so I took the time out to do suburban housewife-y things: baking, paying bills, buying groceries, getting a manicure, hanging out with the dogs, and blogging. Soon I'm going to have to pack up my clean laundry, my yoga mat, the cookies, and drive back to Malate to prepare for the meeting.

We're making a movie! How on earth did I get myself into this?

I'm just going to take it one day at a time. Plus, I'm thinking positive.

Anyway, some pictures from the tech survey:

Interior of a building from Paradise Heights, the mass housing project at Smokey Mountain.

I've often played cooking with Danielle and Alix. I was glad to see these kids enjoy the same thing. They had plastic plates and vegetables. And a Beatrix Potter tray. I want get toy donations but I'm worried I'll never collect enough toys for all the kids at Smokey. But for sure Danielle and Alix will help me jump start the toy drive.

This is behind the trash dump. Despite the constant smoke, it looks really amazing.

Local color in Paradise Heights.

Mr. Monkey was the highlight of my day.

Paradise Heights in the distance with Juan Caguicla in profile.

The gang's all here. Well, not quite. Julia (Location Manager) was off somewhere talking to people. Francois (DOP) and his guys Gerry and Jun (gaffer and key grip) climbed the hill behind us while we put on our boots and soaked up the local atmosphere. From left: Leroy (Production Designer), Mateo (Director), Alec (2nd AD), Dawn (1st AD), Mark (Sound), Juan (behind-the-scenes), and Cayo (Sound assistant).

My room mate and I certainly get around. Two months ago, Julia and I were at a ballet gala at the Cultural Center, sipping champagne while wearing couture. Here we are at Smokey, still hamming it up for the camera and still having fun no matter where we are.

Bim-Bim, 4, and Natalie, 2, hanging out at the Co-op office. Bim sang "Lupang Hinirang" for us with additional lyrics. She's a smart cookie. Meanwhile, Natalie counted to ten and struck a pose. Too cute.

Burning wires in the trash dump. I suddenly remembered lines from Bjork's "Hyperballad":

We live on a mountain
Right at the top
There's a beautiful view
From the top of the mountain
Every morning I walk towards the edge
And throw little things off
Car parts, bottles and cutlery
Or whatever I find lying around...

Mr. Teddy Bear Soldier here broke my heart.

welcome to the edge of the world

Yesterday we did our tech survey in Smokey Mountain. For five hours I was tramping around in the sludge with my trusty rubber boots, a diaper bag, and a 3M dust mask. Despite the mask, my allergies are kicking in today but it's a small price to pay for the whole experience.

Tondo. What a trip.

We caught sunset at the dock behind the dump site. Nothing can beat a Manila sunset. It was quite beautiful even if we were literally standing in shit.

I've been told, "You should write a blog." I've often retorted, "Oh, please." The last thing I want to do is bore people with the minutiae of my daily life. But here I am: standing in the shit and watching the sunset. It's compelling stuff. This whole experience is such a crazy ride. I might as well document it properly.