Iza Calzado—back to school, back to indies
IZA Calzado, who is currently in Los Angeles to take several acting classes, is thrilled by the rich variety of roles afforded to women in the Philippines—especially in film festivals like CineFilipino, where her latest movie, Paolo Herras’ “Buhay Habangbuhay,” is competing against eight other entries.
Iza told the Inquirer via e-mail: “I am incredibly grateful that I’ve never felt that there were never enough roles for women in the country.”
She recalled a recent conversation with friends, which included Filipino-American Hollywood actress Tia Carrere. “I told them that I have never felt that I was given fewer opportunities than men! On the contrary, I think there are more roles for women, and perhaps there are more female actors than there are males in the Philippines. Statistics may prove me wrong, but I am just ecstatic that there are lots of wonderful roles for women here.”
Case in point: She plays quite an “interesting” character in “Buhay Habangbuhay”—a ghost named Sandy.
“She was one of those people who breezed through life without really feeling alive. Until, of course, when she dies and discovers that there’s more to life and decides to live out her life in the afterlife,” she explained.
Moreover, the film pushed Iza to the limit—in underwater scenes that took two days to complete.
“One of the most physically challenging things I’ve ever done in my entire career,” she quipped. “It’s not easy to be emotional underwater, and I had to do all sorts of stunts at the same time.”
Those underwater scenes were precisely what sealed the deal for her. “I loved that Paolo had a fresh take on ghosts! And it was cool that it was based on a graphic novel. Made me feel so bagets (young)!”
She has yet to read the graphic novel based on the film’s script, but saw some drawings during the shoot. “It wasn’t finished yet when we were filming. I can’t wait to get my hands on the graphic novel.”
She adored working with the film’s promising writer-director. “Paolo is probably one of the sweetest directors I’ve ever worked with.”
She precisely makes time for indie film festivals—in spite of her hectic work schedule in the mainstream industry—because of the chance to work with youthful filmmakers.
“It’s important to keep making films,” she asserted. “Being part of festivals like CineFilipino and Cinemalaya gives me an opportunity to work with the next generation of filmmakers.
“It also helps me to find material that I would not come across in the mainstream. So, if anyone reading this article has a great script… please send it my way!”
Said Paolo of Iza: “She was very committed and dedicated to the project.” So much so that she also signed up as coproducer when the production hit a budgetary brick wall.
Iza recounted: “When I heard that the film went overbudget, I told the producers that they didn’t need to pay my fee… that they only need to give me a small percentage.”
She wanted to support the valiant team “who gave blood, sweat and tears” to the film. “Paolo has such a good heart, and I was just returning his kindness back.”
Wearing the producer’s hat was yet another learning experience for Iza, the eternal student. “It’s good to have a stake in something you do. How I wish we had back-end deals like they do in Hollywood.”
Which leads us back to her latest adventure in La-La Land.
“I’m taking a few classes,” related Iza who starred in the US film, “The Echo” (a remake of Yam Laranas’ “Sigaw”), in 2008. “I also went to an audition technique class at the Aquila Morong Studio. Plus, I got to join an amazing improvisational class with Gary Austin of The Groundlings.”
With Tia, Iza recently watched the improv show of another Fil-Am actor in Hollywood, Mark Dacascos.