My Paranormance Experience
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Now that shooting is finally done, it’s hard to put into words how the whole adventure feels like to begin with. While I was at the set, in my head I could write a blog entry without even trying. There is so much to tell – the drama, the flood that took production design and continuity into trash, the two-hour sleep, the missing of my boys… Sorry! I’m making it sound so horrible! It wasn’t that bad really! It was a different kind of high… the kind where your own little victories in every-shooting-day is wholly shared with the rest of the crew. It’s the kind where you know you’ve accomplished something great even if you’re not on spotlight.
This is My Paranormance Experience. Of how, when, why, where… and add one more why I became a Costume Designer / Head of Wardrobe for My Paranormal Romance, a Film by Victor Villanueva for 2011 Cinema One Originals.
So how did the Universe weave such a beautiful experience – actually still a work in progress - and thought of the little me being part of this huge project? It was through Bevlee, one of the producers of this film, who saw my potential through my Little Black Dress mini collection. I hesitated for days because I didn’t want any responsibility that I am not sure I can take charge of. I didn’t want to blow somethin this big - not that I intend to but having doubts inside my head was good enough as warning signs for me. But as always, she was a persistent believer of my capable hands. I then realized what a unique opportunity this was. If I had let it pass, will I ever know if film was (or wasn’t) the new art for me? And instantly of course I thought of my two boys - being away from them was a sacrifice not just for me but for them too. So I told her that I can only help them Pre-production because I felt I cannot commit to the whole shooting thing. It was just too big. We had a deal and so I gave my big YES.
Ok so pre-production started. Crazy days and nights began. I read the script three times, imagined, researched like a maniac – even made a website for crying out loud! I showed the Director my sketches and ideas, met up the casts and took their measurements, went fabric-hunting then shopped! Ukay-ukay or pre-loved stores like Handpicked Style have been of great help as usual and so was my own and mother’s closet. But there were tough times too like getting that perfect fabric, getting the costumes ready in time before the shoot – that means I had to lie about deadlines to my Sastre just so I have an allowance in case she can’t deliver on a particular day. Or finding that three identical PLAIN CREAM SHIRT. Sounds easy? Hah! I had a whole day just for it!
“Pre-prod ra ko Bevlee ha? Kay di ko ka commit inig production na jud.” Right. Who are you kidding, Govinda?
Like any other project that I’m commited to, I cannot just ”abandon” the work. I couldn’t help it. Thoughts came in like ‘What if they are having a hard time fitting the costumes… or if they’d use the wrong accessory… or worse, what if they suddenly decide not to use any of the costumes?! I couldn’t in my all my honesty just sit at home while imagine the team filming. I mean this is my first film project and I chickened out just because I had an imaginary paranoia of a crazy Director shouting at me? The clothes/look of each character was my responsibility. Again, I changed my mind and bravely joined with the talented, fun, award-winning, crazy moviemakers of Cebu. Tadaaa! There I was attending meetings and asking questions, getting the hang of what I was about to be part of. As I always say it, “Tabang nalang, Lord“.
Being a newbie in film was scary but I was glad I had a friend with me to share it with. Also a first-timer herself was Hair and Makeup Artist, Amuer. Her talent was discovered through my Little Black dress photoshoot where she did the hair and makeup of my models. At the set we exchanged ideas and helped each other get out of little bumps. She was always eager to lend a hand but too bad I couldn’t assist her in makeup! We had a great time, discovered the “secrets” of the local “film industry” and even learned some of the lingo of filming. I share this experience with her even the boring, sleepy times on the set.
Production was overwhelming. Fun yet very exhausting. One thing I’ve learned in filming is that even if you get the preparations all set and ready and you’ve done all the ironing, there is no assurance that everything’s going to flow smoothly. Elements that you cannot handle sets in and takes on a lead role and all you could do is let go, move on, and do something about it.
I lost the Duwende’s hat on the night before the shoot. Ok I didn’t actually loose it but some paranormal activity was going on that night at my house. I won’t elaborate but let’s just put it this way – “Someone” borrowed it and didn’t want to give it back. It was annoying because the original hat fit him really nice. So with the extra fabric I had, I handsew a new hat for him on the set. It felt good afterwards though because it actually looked way cooler than the lost one. I don’t think that “someone” is going to return it ever. Hmm… maybe it fits him perfectly too haha!
Then came the flood. It was a disaster, a meltdown, a tragedy. Because of that, the whole production stopped for almost a month. But still the movie survived because the spirit of ka-kornyhan and joketime lived among the crew. You wouldn’t believe it but the team managed to smile behind the grandest calamity in production ever. (photo: left – Direk Vic trying to save his set)
Right when we got the untimely break, my husband arrived for a short vacation. I had a heavy heart sending the wardrobe boxes and bags off to my assistant Jocelyn. I didn’t want her to get into trouble finding costumes so I labeled them each with costume titles and description plus a scene-costume breakdown. While having a tour with my family in Bohol, I was still carrying the breakdown sheet in my bag just in case they’d call up and needed help.
But there was no shoot until my husband left for Dubai again. The timing was unbelievable. Well you know how it is, everything happens for a reason. My selfish reason was to have a break and have a good time with my family. It was as though production waited for me. I was so happy I didn’t miss a shooting day and was back with the team again. The break was a refreshing start for everyone. (photo: me inside my wardrobe box. Didn’t I look gracefully stressed? Haha!)
The flood ate the vest and the best of this costume. I kind of almost got it back but… oh well. You just can’t get everything back after a calamity now can you? But we were so thankful despite the weather challenge, everyone was still up to finish this movie.
But the biggest challenge I had to face was being a mother. I was battling with the ugly depressant that came with it. Two days before the last shooting day, I shed a tear as I said out loud to myself, ”gamay nlng kulang, ma depressed nako.” But of course nobody really paid attention to that statement and I wasn’t really looking for empathy. I just needed to release a portion of my loneliness. It was so weird not being able to interact with my kids for 3 straight days. I tried to wake them up or kiss them endlessly but those weren’t enough. And sometimes I only had two hours of sleep with them. There was something screaming inside me, and I couldn’t do anything about it. It was so loud it feels like I’ve betrayed them.
That feeling was exactly the one I feared the most the minute I said YES. But this was my choice and even if it was ripping me apart, being part of the film was my responsibility and I believe this was a project that’s worth the sacrifice. All for the love of this movie. Char.
You see I believe in this guy here. I think he is the most positive, creative, lucky, hillarious (self-proclaimed) ADHD I know. His ideas and imagination are powerful terrains that only people who can accept the “senseless” get it. It was in knowing that he is truthful in his work, believes 100% that random comedy is going to put him to fame. Haha! It’s because of this guy that we put all our energy to this movie. Because after all, if it weren’t for his undying patience and corny jokes, the team would’ve broken down. Besides, he was okey for me to be in charge for the costumes even if he knew I had no experience in film. Victor Kaiba Villanueva, kakaiba ka! (Vic, kapasar to nga joke? Hehe…)
Here are some random happy memories of the film…
Above photo was taken on the day when Director of Photography, Ruel Antipuesto, called me up and asked me to look at the camera screen. He gave me a pat on my shoulder and congratulated me. He thought the characters looked great. That moment was a big deal for me because even if he was already a big shot in film making, he still made a newbie like me feel right where I should be, part of this family. (Thanks Ruel! ^_^)
I remember not feeling good about the villain’s look. Thank God it was Publio Briones! Stunned by his all-out acting skills, patience, and “transformation” I had no time to rethink about his costume – as if that was possible anyway. (You are pure talent and hardwork Pubs, it was an honor working with you.)
This is Gloria Sommer, as Clara. She was my favorite character because I had to dress her up in her seven White Lady costumes. I’m glad she was up for anything, and was always eager to flash a big grin even if she was itching in her stockings. I will blog separately about each of the characters’ costume stories soon!
Goofing around in between takes with the lead casts, Van Roxas and Phoebe Kay Fernandez. Talented, crazy, beautiful people on the set. I admire their hardwork and dedication to this film. Easy working around them. Lovely people rock!
Location: in the woods. The rain suddenly poured like crazy. I was carrying my S&R wardrobe bag down to a slippery loose rocky path. We had to go back there the second time around because there was no way for production to survive. In the van, the crew still had time to laugh about the whole thing even if we were all soaking wet! For a second I thought there was something wrong with these people. Seconds later, I was laughing along. Even the rain couldn’t stop our sunny selves. (From left: me, Paul Jake Castillo as Sol, and Above the Line Productions Team: Frances Nuñez, Chan Damo, and Jill Watt Anoba. Awesome people. Hardcore. I learned a lot working with you guys, I’m so lucky!)
“Last day” of shooting. Happiest production crew with their big lechon bellies plus oversized puso! Clockwise from top-left: My windfaerie bestie Bevlee Tanedo (co-producer), the pretty Phoebe Kay Fernandez (lead role, Merry), the little me (Costume Designer), the always hungry Victor Villanueva (Director), the cool Van Roxas (lead role, Lucas), the bayot Amuerfina Butron (HMU Artist), the wurd! Kaloy Uypuanco (Production Designer), the ever abtik Jocelyn Batuan (Assitant for Wardrobe). I love you everyone, group huuug! And to everyone who were part of production and post-production, yahooooo! I’m happy to share this experience with you. See you when I see you!
Filming is way too complicated than I’ve imagined. Hah!
I know this entry does not equal to the real experience.
But I hope you had a glimpse of the roller coaster ride that is the joy of first-time filming.