Indie filmmaker Jade Castro followed up the success of “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington” with “My Kontrabida Girl,” a romantic-comedy starring Aljur Abrenica and Rhian Ramos from GMA Films.
True to form, Castro refused to settle on the tried and tested. The “Kontrabida” heroine is an unsympathetic character, and the lead Rhian Ramos has been a villainess in a TV series.
“How could I make the movie audience love her? That made the concept exciting for me. I would not have done this movie if it had been an ordinary romantic comedy.”
Making things more arduous, his leading lady was smarting from a messy breakup in real life. Castro noticed between takes that she was still dealing with it. “I did not want to intrude,” he said. “Later, she opened up to me, which I thought was a breakthrough in our working relationship.”
Panned by critics
Another challenge was having underrated Abrenica as leading man. Friends and colleagues, including GMA Films staffers, had told Castro to “look after” Abrenica who had not been getting good reviews from critics.
The young filmmaker appreciated that his lead actor knew his limitations and was willing to work on them. “He listened intently and was determined to improve.”
Castro conceded that there is pressure on him to top the success of “Zombadings.” “I know that GMA Films executives hired me because they loved ‘Zombadings.’ But I also look at it as a challenge to push myself further.”
Castro co-wrote the script with Aloy Adlawan, and is all praise for GMA Films. “I was impressed at the open-mindedness of the GMA Films execs. They trusted my directorial decisions. It was a real collaboration.”
Was it different from his experience with Star Cinema, film arm of ABS-CBN, which produced his second film, “My Big Love”? (His debut was the critically acclaimed Cinemalaya film “Endo.”)
“GMA and ABS-CBN have different work systems,” Castro said. “I learned a lot from Star Cinema. But I was a new director then. I would like to think I have matured and improved since.”