I just saw the latest edit of my film Fan Girl. My constant editor and collaborator Ben Tolentino (That Thing Called Tadhana, Never Not Love You, Alone/Together) sent me the link last night but because I was in a shoot (this time as a producer, for Rod Marmol’s second feature Cuddle Weather – a beautifully written script! It’s a rom-com script I wish I wrote myself), I didn’t want to watch it amidst the chaos of a film set.
A little background on Fan Girl: This project goes way back three years ago. I first wrote it in 2016, re-wrote and revised it x times, with two different endings then, but we never got to shoot it. Right after that, I got into a creative breakdown. It was my passion project at that time, and Fan Girl falling apart then was heartbreaking for me. I felt that I wasn’t making the kind of films I want to make, and Fan Girl was supposed to be it. I was down. I couldn’t write new stories. I couldn’t push myself to write and create. I was disappointed with myself. I missed my old UP-filmmaker self. But that was too long ago. What happened to me?
I went to Palawan with my friend Yosh and Vins, and there, I vowed, I will begin to write again. And I did. Slowly but surely. After Palawan, my friend Kriz (then creative manager from Star Cinema, now head of Black Sheep) called me to ask if I wanted to make a film for Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto. I said yes. And that was when the first germs of Love You to the Stars and Back was born. It’s a road film about a girl who believes in aliens, and a boy who tried believing in them too just to be with her. Road trip. Love. First love. Two characters almost throughout the whole film just talking. Sounds like me to me. 🙂
Fast forward to two years after LYSB, and here I am doing Fan Girl – a film I was supposed to do three years ago. We spent so much time developing this project (we went to Asian Project Market in Busan and First Cut Lab in Manila with foreign mentors) that I was getting impatient. I was so used to doing films so quickly from writing to playdate that three years seemed forever. I was losing the drive, I was losing the spark. I wanted to get it over and done with ASAP, so that I can already move on and start a new film.
Until I saw Ben’s edit.
It was just two shooting days’ worth of footage but it was enough to slap me in the face and bring me back to that excitement I had three years ago. My heart is happy. I love our fan girl. We did a good job choosing her and developing her instincts and skills (thank you, Jay Cruz, my acting collaborator! He also helped me a lot with Liza and Enrique in Alone/Together. I’ve admitted to myself that acting is my waterloo, and I feel grateful I have Jay to guide me in the acting process. I promise to take acting lessons in the future – if only to understand the actor’s mind more). And the treatment so far is working – with sir Neil Daza’s cinematography and Ferdi Abuel’s production design (Ulan, Sid and Aya), plus the camerawork of Anne Monzon and Cesca Lee. (I have a male DOP but I wanted two women as camera operators to serve the female gaze. Most of my staff are female too. It was a deliberate decision. Fan Girl after all is a girl and a woman’s POV.)
I hope this excitement doesn’t go away anytime soon. Shoot na tayo!#