Back to work (sort of…)

Yesterday, we had the script reading for Tabang, a short film I wrote for my Dad and Lore Reyes. It’s a regional film, with an all Ilonggo cast and crew and my script was translated into Hiligaynon, our language here in Bacolod.

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The actors of Tabang, in a circle, with directors Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes and the scriptwriter, myself, joining them (photo by Jo Macasa)

They have begun principal photography today and then tomorrow, we shoot major scenes. It’s, surprisingly, a three-day shoot. For a short film in the Philippines, that’s unusual, I think because they try to keep their costs small and try to shoot the whole film in one day. But we were able to find a few sponsors to help finance the project and it could afford us a three-day shoot for this short film.

It’s a basically a horror, but it’s never that simple with me. I see it more as a family drama with horrifying elements scattered about and pushing the story forward. And it’s the work that I did the most backstory for because it’s a rather complex story. We tried not to reveal too much in the film but we steeped it in a rich history that all the actors are aware of but we aren’t showing all of it.

Truthfully, we have a story rich enough for a full-length. Hopefully, somebody will want to fund the full-feature because these are dynamic and complex characters that could really shine and grow with enough screen time.

Most of the scripts I’ve written prior to this, the story unfolds and the characters unfold within the story. Their backstories and history is revealed in the film and the rest I usually don’t form in stone so that the actors have a space with which to create the rest of the character. I have an idea in my head, but I like to let the actors be creative as well. As long as their own ideas align with the story that’s on the script, then I’m fine with it. It’s a collaborative work. I like that and I like giving the actors and the directors a space to create as well within the framework of the story.

Plotting and narrative structure has always been my forte.

But for Tabang (in English, it’s translated to “help” as in “help me”) I needed to create a backstory for this whole narrative and none of it is going to be revealed, just hinted at. It will inform the performances, the way things are shot, the production design, but we don’t have the time frame within a short film to bring that all out. It’s fun to do this method too; to work with this process. I’m starting to get really, really attracted to writing narratives that don’t explain everything within itself.

Tomorrow, I will go to the shoot to be available for script changes and to help the directors and actors with any questions about why things were written in such a way. In a way, I’m back to work.

It feels good to be creating again.

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