Pepe Diokno

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An interview with the great Lav Diaz

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Photo by Joseph Pascual

Here’s the full version of the interview that I did with one of my filmmaking idols, Lav Diaz, for Philippine Star Supreme. In this long conversation, we talk about Lav’s beginnings, his filmmaking style, his memories of Martial Law, and how his cinema fits in the digital age.

What is your first memory of cinema?

We lived in this very remote area of Maguindanao. I grew up in the middle of the forest, but about two hours drive from our place, through a rough road, was Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat. There were four theaters there, and my father was a movie addict. He would bring us on the weekends. We would get there by Saturday morning and go home Sunday night. We watched the whole gamut, all the genres — action, horror, Hong Kong movies, Hollywood movies, Filipino cinema. What I liked watching was action — Bruce Lee stuff, Fernando Poe, Jr. was a favorite then, James Bond, of course, and also the slapstick comedies of Dolphy and Chikito. All the fares in the theaters were double bills, so we were watching eight movies a week. It was virtually a film school.

At what point did you get the idea of making films yourself?

It started in college when I watched, and I remember what a strong impact it had on me, “Godfather 1.” I was like, “Wow. What is this? This is stunning.” I saw it at the Delta Theater. Then our teacher assigned us to watch “Maynilia Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag” and write a reaction paper. With my classmates, we watched that film at the Coronet Theater in Cubao and then we talked about it the whole night, about how beautiful the film was and how good Lino Brocka is. This is where it started, where I got the idea, that, “Ah, instead of me doing music” — because music is what I really wanted to do, I was in bands — “maybe I can do cinema.” These two films were landmarks for me as a young man.

But then, I looked at cinema and went, “This seems to difficult.” I would peek at shoots in Manila  and see there were so many trucks, so many lights, and I said, “How am I going to do this? How will I become a director?” But I started thinking about it; that maybe, just maybe, I can. That’s why I started paying attention to cinema, and there were cinema books at the Rizal Library at Ateneo, I would read them — the reviews, the biographies of directors. So that started it.

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Till next time, love
Spent three months in Paris, working on Above the Clouds. It may sound like bullshit to say that this was a life-changing trip, but it was. I didn’t meet someone on a train or have any grand realizations while walking the Seine, but I’ve gotten to work with great people, I’ve seen amazing works of art, learned to be more independent, learned to put my life in perspective, rediscovered my voice, and began to dream a little bigger. It’s good for anyone to spend time away from home, and I realize how lucky I am to have been given the chance do this here of all places. See you soon, city of lights.

Till next time, love

Spent three months in Paris, working on Above the Clouds. It may sound like bullshit to say that this was a life-changing trip, but it was. I didn’t meet someone on a train or have any grand realizations while walking the Seine, but I’ve gotten to work with great people, I’ve seen amazing works of art, learned to be more independent, learned to put my life in perspective, rediscovered my voice, and began to dream a little bigger. It’s good for anyone to spend time away from home, and I realize how lucky I am to have been given the chance do this here of all places. See you soon, city of lights.

One of the dumbest things you were ever taught was to write what you know. Because what you know is usually dull. Remember when you first wanted to be a writer? Eight or 10 years old, reading about thin-lipped heroes flying over mysterious viny jungles toward untold wonders? That’s what you wanted to write about, about what you didn’t know.

Ken Kesey

via Dodo Dayao

flavorpill:

Francis Ford Coppola
“When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In The Godfather, it was succession. In The Conversation, it was privacy. In Apocalypse, it was morality. The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.
“I remember in The Conversation, they brought all these coats to me, and they said: Do you want him to look like a detective, Humphrey Bogart? Do you want him to look like a blah blah blah. I didn’t know, and said the theme is ‘privacy’ and chose the plastic coat you could see through. So knowing the theme helps you make a decision when you’re not sure which way to go.”
100 Famous Directors’ Rules of Filmmaking

flavorpill:

Francis Ford Coppola

“When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In The Godfather, it was succession. In The Conversation, it was privacy. In Apocalypse, it was morality. The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.

“I remember in The Conversation, they brought all these coats to me, and they said: Do you want him to look like a detective, Humphrey Bogart? Do you want him to look like a blah blah blah. I didn’t know, and said the theme is ‘privacy’ and chose the plastic coat you could see through. So knowing the theme helps you make a decision when you’re not sure which way to go.”

100 Famous Directors’ Rules of Filmmaking

Hi everyone, I’m really proud to show you the latest behind-the-scenes video for Above the Clouds. This episode shows the amazing work that our production designers did for the film, and I learned so much watching this. Enjoy!

abovethecloudsmovie:

Here’s the latest behind-the-scenes video for “Above the Clouds”. In this episode, our production designers Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije talk about the physical aspects of the film and teach us about their craft.

Keep following our journey in making the film at http://facebook.com/AboveTheCloudsMovie.

View of Rue Franklin Roosevelt Sunrise near our flat My producer Bianca Balbuena at the lovely home of our French editor, Gisele Rapp-Meichler The Hunchback of Notre Dam

Hello from Paris!

Hello from Paris! Arrived on Tuesday, and I’ll be here for a few weeks to do post-production on Above the Clouds. I’m nervous about this trip. It’s in post that a film really comes to life, and I don’t quite know how it’s all going to turn out. No one really knows how a film is going to turn out, though I’m the kind of person who always has the worst at the back of his head. Aaanyway.

Still a long road ahead for us and the film — editing, sound editing, sound mixing, color grading, and musical score. I’ll keep you all posted. Hope to have some off-days so I can go around and take everything in. I love this city. I love how you get here and it seems larger than life, but when you start to walk around, and take the metro, and meet people, and ogle at people, the city gets smaller and smaller, and Paris can feel like the most intimate place in the world.

I’ll keep posting photos and videos on my Instagram, so please follow me there! Catch you all again soon.

Potipot Island, Zambales

Spent last weekend here with my family to celebrate the birthdays of my mom and brother. Beautiful place. Was lucky enough to catch this amazing sunset. I’ve been neck-deep in editing “Above the Clouds” so I needed this break. The downtime gave me some perspective. Back in the editing room today with a fresh eye.

More photos and videos at http://instagram.com/PepeDiokno.

Tokyo Diary

Spent four days in Tokyo during cherry blossom season last year and shot this little video diary with my good friend, cinematographer Carlo Mendoza, using a pair of Sony NEX VG-900 cameras.

Got to Tokyo just as the flowers were falling and it was raining over the city, but never mind. Tokyo is one of my favorite places in the world. The energy is just different. There’s so much going on, everything moves so fast, the locals barely speak English, and the Japanese have a penchant for the strange.

The reason I love Tokyo so effing much is because it’s easy get lost in it — not because it’s disorienting but because it absorbs you. It doesn’t take long after landing in Japan to feel that you’re part it. The country is a place that is difficult to leave. Went there twice last year, and I would go back this year in a heartbeat.

Music: “Get Up and Go” by Broadcast 2000 (Buy)

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman