‘Tandem’ comes home
Debuting director King Palisoc shares a tip on how to cut costs while making an independently produced film.
“We needed an old song for a scene in the movie,” he recalled. So, he turned to his father, songwriter Boyet Palisoc, who composed “Bakit Ba Ganyan” (originally recorded by Dina Bonnevie), for the rights to the popular 1980s hit.
Since his dad was the composer, he got the song for, well, a song. “We got a good discount. It would have been expensive if we had to pay for it.”
Music rights could cost P30,000 to P50,000 per song. Relying on relatives is “the indie way of scrimping,” he quipped.
Palisoc cut his teeth on music videos and commercials before making his debut in the “Makina” episode of the indie trilogy, “Bang Bang Alley.”
“Tandem,” which competed in the New Wave section of last December’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), serves as his debut as a feature-length filmmaker.
On Feb. 17, “Tandem” will open in local theaters after making the rounds of the international film fest circuit—specifically in Vancouver and Montreal in Canada, and Cairo in Egypt.
He attended all three festivals and was amazed by how similar the audience’s reactions were—whether in Asia, Africa or North America.
“It’s very interesting. Foreign audiences would get excited and gasp in the same crucial scenes as the Filipinos,” he said. “It shows how universal film is. Egyptians told me that Manila looks a lot like Cairo.”
Foreign viewers were disturbed by the film’s subject matter—crime and corruption in the police force.
“They wondered whether I would get in trouble with the cops. I assured them that it was not the first time that this controversial issue was tackled in a movie,” he related.
“Tandem,” which was produced by Quantum, Buchi Boy and Tuko Films, will compete in the Directors’ Week section of the 38th Oporto International Film Festival in Portugal, from Feb. 26 to March 5.
“Tandem” topbills JM de Guzman who won best actor at the New Wave section of the MMFF.
Palisoc recalled that De Guzman was a pro during the shoot—contrary to rumors of unpredictable behavior on other sets.
There are reports that De Guzman is currently in a rehabilitation/wellness center. “We’ve lost contact, but we informed his dad of his best actor award.”
Palisoc, who took up Communications at Ateneo de Manila University, regards filmmakers Marilou Diaz-Abaya and Quark Henares as his mentors. (Henares and Abaya taught film at Ateneo.)
“From Direk Quark, I learned to appreciate the craft of filmmaking,” he said. “More than film, Direk Marilou, on the other hand, taught me about life.”
He explained that the late Abaya’s rules for a “fair and humane” working environment (which was shared by former assistant Christian Vallez on Facebook) are principles he hopes to adhere to every day on the set.
Among Abaya’s rules are: “Shouting is not allowed unless it’s for a scene; the crew should not go hungry; and people are more important than films.”
Early this year, Abaya’s rules were spread online in the middle of the intense debate over the scandal involving TV-film director Cathy Garcia-Molina, who was criticized by netizens for cursing bit player and history teacher Alvin Campomanes on the set of “Forevermore.”
“Through the years, I’ve learned that everyone turns to the director to set the mood on the set,” he pointed out. “That’s why it’s crucial to manage your emotions well.”
No matter how stressful the situation is, and it can get pressure-cooker dicey on the set of an indie film, Palisoc makes sure that “the cast and crew are comfortable and treated well.”