From tough and gruff to flighty and flirty
From playing tough and gruff hunks, the latest being real-life revolutionary Jose Bernal in “Heneral Luna,” actor Alex Medina gets to sink his teeth into a different kind of hero/heel: a heartless gigolo who, in a bizarre case of possession, turns into a swishy gay in “Echorsis: Sabunutan Between Good and Evil.”
To prepare for the unconventional part, Medina heeded the advice of his father, seasoned actor Pen Medina, who is no stranger to playing flamboyant and fiery divas, as well.
“My dad told me to do thorough research because doing gay roles could be physically draining,” he told the Inquirer.
The dutiful student surfed the Net, watching YouTube videos of gay pageants, along with episodes of the old Allan K-Eugene Domingo gag show, “Comedy Bar.” He also brushed up on the latest “swardspeak,” or gay lingo. “The movie’s staffers were a big help, too,” he recalled.
It was a “different challenge” for him, he conceded. “Playing a loud character involved lots of extra body movements—it had its own rhythm. Although I did a lot of prep work, I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I also had to know how to ad-lib.”
Although it was his first time to work with director Lem Lorca, they hit it off effortlessly. “He is open to suggestions. Very collaborative.”
Working with his ka-love team in the film, John Lapus, was a breeze, as well. “I look up to John. He guided me throughout the shoot.”
When it was time to shoot their sultry love scene, Alex gave John a huge “surprise.” “I just did what my character would do in that situation,” he recounted. “John was shocked. But he told me that I did the right thing in that scene.”
Was it torrid or tender?
“Basta,” he quipped, playfully. “You have to see it for yourself.”
How’s that for the ultimate sales pitch?
In light of the unexpected success of “Heneral Luna,” he has high hopes for the independently produced “Echorsis,” which opens in cinemas on April 13.
He has accepted that, for indie production companies like Insight 360 (the “Echorsis” producer), taking the commercial route can be an uphill climb. “We have to work double time promoting the film because if you don’t attract big crowds on the first two days, you’d get pulled out of the theaters.”
The case of “Heneral Luna” proved instructive. “For the first two weeks, ‘Heneral Luna’ was barely hanging,” he looked back.
But the audience members didn’t give up. “They were so invested in the film that they started posting memes, fan fiction and fan art online. Before we knew it, it blew up and a historical film remained in cinemas for nine weeks!”
He expressed the wish that the “first-day/last-day” syndrome would become a thing of the past, to give indies a fighting chance at the tills.
Since that may be a long shot for now, the “Echorsis” team is leaving nothing to chance.
Still, TV ad placements are prohibitive, so “Echorsis” has turned to social media to drumbeat the comedy-horror flick, scripted by Jerry Gracio. “Our trailer has reached 1.8 million views on Facebook so far,” he related.