Filmmaker Ian del Carmen describes his debut movie as “antirom-com.”
In a nutshell, “Bad Romance” is a parody of raging trends in mainstream movies with a Quentin Tarantino-esque twist, said Del Carmen.
Screenwriter Irvin Malcolm agreed, adding that he is “allergic to formulaic romcoms and adultery drama flicks,” the women-centered genres that are currently dominating the local box office.
(The film has award-winning scriptwriter Ricky Lee as creative consultant.)
Malcolm said he couldn’t understand why “women are always depicted as desirous of or dependent on men” in popular movies.
“Bad Romance” aspires to turn those stereotypical depictions on their heads.
Del Carmen explained: “It’s the kind of story I’ve always wanted to direct as a feature film. I’m a Tarantino fan. Some of the bloody and gory scenes in my movie were inspired by his works: ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Inglourious Basterds.’”
In shooting the indie film, Del Carmen collaborated with Daniel Anaya, a Mexican-American cinematographer who previously worked in the camera departments of Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn” (which had Tarantino as scriptwriter and actor) and James Cameron’s “Titanic.”
In keeping with its antiromance theme, the film’s hunky hero was named Sam Lloyd Pascual—in honor of rom-com stars Sam Milby, John Lloyd Cruz and Piolo Pascual.
At first, Del Carmen planned to hire Cruz and take the self-reflexive route of Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich.”
Alas, Cruz was simply too busy.
In the end, newcomer Francis Lopez, Mr. Philippines 2011, landed the part.
Del Carmen also had problems in casting his leading lady after the original choice, Bangs Garcia, dropped out because of her hectic schedule.
Luckily, Mercedes Cabral, who has the same manager (Shandii Bacolod) as Lopez, got hold of the script and was impressed.
For the rest of the cast, Del Carmen tapped former colleagues from ABS-CBN, where he worked as writer-director in shows like “Sharon,” “Pinoy Big Brother,” and “Magandang Tanghali Bayan,” among others.
“Archie Alemania, Jayson Gainza and Ogie Diaz were all game. They wanted to support my first movie as director,” Del Carmen said.
Friendships obviously served Del Carmen well. “Another friend, CNBC meteorologist Todd Gross, consented to play himself in my film.”
Another casting coup is Janelle Manahan, witness (and survivor) in the brutal slaying of boyfriend Ram Revilla, who returns to the screen in this film. “It’s her first movie after the incident. Janelle felt comfortable on the set. She said that since I’m her cousin, she trusts me completely.”
Del Carmen was also able to cast 1980s heartthrob Rey “PJ” Abellana in a pivotal part, through another pal and second unit director Sigfreid Barros Sanchez. “Actors from the 1970s and 1980s like PJ are a different breed. They are thoroughly professional. They can shed a single teardrop on cue.”
Del Carmen somehow convinced another 1980s icon, former child sensation Aiza Seguerra, to portray an unconventional character—a Goth detective.
The debuting director admitted that he initially felt ill at ease on the set, particularly with actors he met for the first time.
To break the ice with Seguerra, he confessed to her that she was his crush as a kid.
Seguerra’s reaction was classic: “Yuck!”
“Bad Romance” opens April 10 in Metro Manila.
“We also plan to release it in the provinces and hopefully abroad,” he said. “Being an indie film, marketing and distribution can be difficult. We can’t afford to place ads on television.”
He turned to the Internet instead.
“Our trailers are on Facebook and YouTube. We also promote on Twitter and other social networking sites,” he said. “Also, ‘Bad Romance’ will be the first film to be shown worldwide through our new online cinema … GrindhouseTheater.com.”
(E-mail the author: [email protected])