She could’ve been trapped in those awkward years between precocity and young adulthood.
Former child star Ella Guevara, however, saw that the indie scene offered a variety of roles for “tweens” like herself.
Ella, 14, explained: “Since indie films are more realistic, actors of any age can be tapped for roles. There’s bound to be a role for me.”
She made her mark on the talent search “StarStruck Kids,” and then in thrillers like Yam Laranas’ “Sigaw” and Ato Bautista’s “Blackout.”
Ella never got to watch “Blackout” because it was for adults only. “I was only 9 then. I wanted to see it because it was my first time to portray a character who was different and a bit twisted.”
Earlier this year, she landed a plum part in Filipino-American Ron Morales’ “Graceland,” which made waves at the Tribeca film fest last April.
Ella attended the New York fest with fellow actors Leon Miguel and Arnold Reyes. “(Oscar-winning filmmaker) Michael Moore watched our film,” she related. “Someone told me that the guy who just congratulated me was him.”
The New York screenings served as a mini-reunion for the “Graceland” team. “We were like a United Colors of Benetton ad on the set,” Ella said. “The actors were all Filipinos, but the crew members were from all over the world.”
The shoot was “light and fun,” but we “had countless rehearsals because our director wanted our emotions to be intense each time.”
She related that when they were shooting a dramatic highlight, Miguel, her costar and “kidnapper” in the film, whispered to her: “This scene will take us abroad.”
Ella recounted: “He had to terrorize me in that sequence. When we were in New York, I told him that his prediction had come true.”
In New York, she got to watch “Graceland,” though it had a daring theme. “In Manila, I would not be allowed to watch the unedited version,” she quipped.
The film has been making the rounds of international festivals, Ella pointed out. “It’s been invited to Athens, Ghent in Belgium, Valladolid in Spain, Hawaii, and to the San Diego Asian festival.”
“Graceland” won best narrative feature in San Diego.
After “Graceland,” Ella is doing two indies—Adolfo Alix Jr.’s MRT-set romance “Ride to Love,” and Eseng Cruz’s jeepney-centered “Limang Dipang Tao.”
Seems she has cornered the market on commuter-theme movies.
“In ‘Ride to Love,’ I play a girl who shows her grandmother (Boots Anson-Roa) how to commute via the MRT,” she explained. “In ‘Limang Dipang Tao,’ I am one of the jeepney riders.”
“Limang Dipang Tao” is a finalist in the second Sineng Pambansa festival, set in Davao from Nov. 22 to 25 and organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines.