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Only In Hollywood

Two debuting directors, two very different films

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RD ALBA (center), Fil-Am director of “Biktima,” at work

LOS ANGELES—“Whenever people meet me on the set, they can’t believe that I’m the director,” said “Biktima” filmmaker RD Alba, who is 34 but looks many years younger.

“I just find it funny. So my challenge is to convince them that I can do my job,” admitted the filmmaker, who screened his thriller drama—which stars Cesar Montano, Angel Aquino and Mercedes Cabral—for us in a friend’s house in LA. Bernardo Bernardo watched “Biktima” with us— you can imagine this actor-director’s witty asides.

RD, born in Cebu but raised in the United States, shot “Biktima” in Bohol in a record eight days. His Bohol connection is his mom, Dr. Disi Alba, who lives in the island province and acts in the movie.

RD moved to the US when he was 11 and finished high school, college and master’s studies in Pennsylvania, Alabama and California, respectively.

“People ask what it’s like to direct Cesar and Angel, both established actors,” related RD, who splits his time between the US and the Philippines. “Cesar is an actor/director, so we speak the same language. That both Cesar and Angel are veterans made it easier for me to direct them.”

Dangerous assignment

Also in the cast are Sunshine Cruz, Ricky Davao, Lloyd Samartino and Philip Anthony, who cowrote the script with RD and Ray Cuerdo. RD, his mom and Philip came up with the story.

“Biktima” dramatizes the consequences when a TV field reporter (played by Angel) goes on a dangerous assignment.

While RD has previous directing credits, including several from ABS-CBN and GMA Pinoy TV, “Biktima” is his full-length feature debut.

Apparently, Dr. Alba enjoys acting. “We get along well,” RD replied when asked about collaborating with his mom. “We both love movies. She loves acting and I love directing; that makes us a perfect duo. In the realm of movie-making, she always listens to me.”

THREE-time Emmy Award winner Genndy Tartakovsky (left), who directed “Hotel Transylvania,” and his producer, Michelle Murdocca, at the LA screening photo:Ruben V. Nepales

RD praised “Biktima’s” Filipino cast and crew. “They are all helpful, sometimes so helpful that they will hold an umbrella over your head,” he said. “But on a serious note, they are hardworking people. It’s a plus that I speak the language.”

Animated movie

From “Biktima” we go to a completely different film, Sony Pictures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania,” which made us smile and break into occasional chuckles during a screening in Beverly Hills last Sunday morning.

The animated movie, to be shown in 3D and traditional theaters in the Philippines, is driven by the spirited voice of Adam Sandler as Dracula, who operates a luxurious “five-stake” resort for monsters like Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Werewolf and their families so they can be themselves and away from those pesky, scary humans.

“Drac” has gathered all the monsters for a special weekend to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’ (Selena Gomez) 118th (yes, that’s right) birthday.

The trouble—or the fun—begins when Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a 21-year-old backpacking human, wanders into the hotel and, worse for dad “Drac,” the young man and Mavis hit it off. How the caped father, who has shielded Mavis from humans all these years, tries to foil the budding romance forms the crux of the movie directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, written by Todd Durham, Dan and Kevin Hageman and produced by Michelle Murdocca.

Impressive voice cast

The rest of the voice talents is quite impressive—Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Fran Drescher and CeeLo Green.

Genndy and Michelle, whom we chatted with after the screening, said Adam’s wife Jackie, and two young daughters Sadie, 6, and Sunny, 3, also lent their voices. Sadie provided the voice of the young Mavis.

“HOTEL Transylvania”: Dracula is voiced by Adam Sandler.

Genndy pointed out that Adam himself wrote and sang two songs in the movie that also features music by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh.

Honored with three Emmy Awards and 12 nominations, Genndy marks his feature film directorial debut with “Hotel Transylvania.”

His TV credits include “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” “Samurai Jack,” “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Sym-Biotic Titan” and “The Powerpuff Girls.”

We’re looking forward to one of Genndy’s next animation feature: “Popeye.”

E-mail the columnist at rvnepales_5585@yahoo.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.


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