What makes PH filmmakers a cut above the rest
I love their passion and willingness to go above and beyond just to make a movie,” said filmmaker and martial arts fighter Vincent Soberano when asked what he thought makes Filipino filmmakers a cut above the rest.
The Beijing-based director is currently in Manila to work on a fantasy-action movie with 1990s action star Monsour del Rosario, who is also the representative of Makati’s District 1.
“I am working with an all-Filipino crew. Their creativity is overwhelming, too, considering that we don’t have the kind of facilities that Chinese and American filmmakers have. They use their ingenuity to make up for that,” he told the Inquirer.
Soberano, who grew up in Bacolod City, left for the United States as a college student and then moved to China, where he has put up a school for mixed martial arts and has gotten involved in film production as part of action star Jackie Chan’s stunt team.
Soberano’s “Blood Hunters” was awarded best short film at the recent 2016 Cinemax HBO Action Film Competition and the Urban Action Showcase and Expo.
“When we shot the film, people thought we were using Hollywood techniques. Little did they know that we didn’t have mattresses when we jumped off buildings. We only had cigarette boxes to cushion our fall,” he recalled. “We didn’t use cable wires either, because they were too expensive. We also used practical lights and didn’t have any Arri Alexa or Black Magic (digital camera systems) because we couldn’t afford the rent. We still achieved what we wanted because of Filipino ingenuity.”
What was needed, said Soberano, was “someone with a vision, someone who will say it’s not OK to say ‘pwede na ’yan.’ I refused to compromise just because we were running out of time. In the end, it’s my vision that is on the line.”
Soberano said his full-length feature with Del Rosario will be an “expanded version” of the “Blood Hunters” short film and will feature a cast of real Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) masters and experts. This project is due to be released in 2017.
“My goal is to promote the Philippines and its martial arts industry. In the film, you will see all the elements—arnis, panantukan, sikaran, kuntao, kali, dumog, among others,” Soberano explained. He observed that when “Ong-bak: Muay Thai Warrior” was made in Thailand, and “The Raid,” in Indonesia, “they changed the history of action films in Asia. I’m now coming up with something that will be very different. They will all know that it’s Filipino.”
Filming began in Morong, Bataan, in October and will resume in January. “We will have fight rehearsals in December. Its story will pick up from the short film, which will be incorporated in the full-length,” Soberano shared with the Inquirer.
Also titled “Blood Hunters,” the full-length film tells the story of a rugged band of demon hunters who capture an aswang queen to extract her blood, which is known to bring the dead back to life. When greed and betrayal get in the way, mayhem ensues among the hunters. The aswang escapes to face off with them in a final, action-packed showdown.
Soberano and Del Rosario were childhood best friends in Bacolod City. “We’ve lived parallel lives,” said Soberano. “We’re both in the film industry, but I was based in China. We started hanging out again in 2005, but it was only two years ago that we started talking about making a movie together. He had retired but has always wanted to get back into film. I wanted to push my film career here. We had hoped to become the Filipino version of ‘The Expendables.’ We’re still in fighting shape, with him being (Sylvester) Stallone and I being Jason Statham.”
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