Straddling the indie, mainstream worlds
Filmmaker Jun Robles Lana shuttles between the indie and mainstream worlds quite effortlessly. As far as he is concerned, however, it’s not a balancing act.
“I don’t distinguish between mainstream and indie projects,” he explained. “I make films that I’m passionate about. As long as it’s a good story, that’s all that matters to me.”
Lana, who also works as GMA 7’s creative director for drama, made two indie films, back-to-back, in the last two years, “Bwakaw” and “Mga Kwentong Barbero,” part of a trilogy on small-town life.
The third film in the trilogy, “Ama Namin,” is in the works.
He met with several international producers at the Hong Kong Asia-Film Financing Forum last March to pitch “Ama Namin.”
Foreigners took note of its “solid story and timely subject matter,” Lana recalled. “My hope is to find an international partner to give this project a second nationality and help broker overseas deals.”
Lana plans to start shooting “Ama Namin” in June.
“Ama Namin” tells the story of priests who have fathered children, Lana remarked. “We live in a society in which corruption and impunity are tolerated. We are now so used to reading about government officials squandering public funds or priests getting involved in scandals… have we lost our sense of right and wrong?”
With “Ama Namin,” which he also wrote, he hopes “to tackle our definitions of family and identity, truth and faith, isolation and alienation in the modern world.”
He considers “intolerance” his biggest hurdle. “It will be a challenge dealing with close-minded people who think I’m out to discredit or malign the church. Reality is a bitter pill to swallow… but I want to initiate an open dialogue on maintaining one’s faith when the very institution of faith has failed him.”
“Ama Namin” is pretty heavy stuff; that’s precisely why he considers working on the rom-com “So It’s You” a “welcome breather.”
(Produced by Regal, “So It’s You” stars Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez and opens May 7.)
“I’m thankful for the chance to direct a mainstream film again,” he acknowledged. “I love the freedom that I found producing and directing my passion projects ‘Bwakaw’ and ‘Barbero,’ but I also get a kick out of making genre films.”
Apart from “Ama Namin,” he is developing a horror flick under Regal and another indie, “Beauty King.”
On TV, he directed the “Magpakailanman” episode on Internet sweethearts Jamich, which will air on Saturday.
Jamich, or Jam Sebastian and Paolinne Michelle Liggayu, made waves on the Net with their romantic videos. Recently, Jam, who overcame a gambling addiction, revealed that he is battling lung cancer, too.
Familiar with Jamich’s cyber fame, Lana had planned to consult the couple on making short online videos. “Then I got the assignment for this episode. I was saddened to learn of his illness.”
He sees Jamich’s struggles as a message of hope. “I was moved and inspired by their story,” he said. “They teach us about the real meaning of love and commitment.”
Lana worked with young stars Jake Vargas and Yassi Pressman in this show. “Jake is a revelation. He has matured a lot. I first directed Yassi [in the soap] ‘Dormitoryo.’ It’s always a delight to work with her.”
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