No Kim in Xian’s surprising foray into filmmaking
“This is something really personal. I’d rather not use Kim to promote it,” said Xian Lim, who is directing the indie movie “Tabon,” when asked why he didn’t include rumored girlfriend Kim Chiu in the cast.
“Tabon,” the screenplay of which Xian cowrote with Eseng Cruz, is an entry in the 2019 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which will run from Aug. 2 to 11.
“Kim will always be an inspiration in anything I do. She knows that this is something that I want to do for myself. She congratulates me all the time for my journey as a filmmaker,” Xian told the Inquirer.
Xian did let on that Kim would be at an ABS-CBN-organized event in San Francisco, California, when “Tabon” has its gala screening on Aug. 7, 6:15 p.m. at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the venue of the annual Cinemalaya fest. “She promised to make time to watch this when she gets back,” he declared.
“Tabon,” which Xian described as a whodunit film, is the result of his longtime fascination for mystery. “Ever since I was a kid, my pastime, as well as my mom’s, has been watching films of that genre, like ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ and reading books by Ray Bradbury or Sydney Sheldon.”
For him, the challenge of making a film for the first time was “how to gather the courage and confidence to begin shooting. I was honestly surprised that my material was chosen. It seemed such a long time ago when I submitted my script. I totally forgot that I did it.”
To make things easier for him, Xian said he got help from people who were good at what they do. “When they first told me the news that my film was among the finalists, I called up the directors I’ve worked with before. First was Direk Joyce (Bernal). She said, ‘Halika! Maglakad tayo. Pagkwentuhan natin ’yan.’ Then, I also spoke with Direk Mae (Cruz). They’re my go-to persons.”
Xian claimed to have always wanted to direct since 2009, when he acted in his first movie, “Two Funerals,” by the late Gil Portes.
“I remember that I kept asking him, ‘Direk paano po ba?’ He simply said, ‘Just do it. A lot of people will try to discourage you, but do it anyway.’ Now, I understand what he meant. If you want to direct, there are a lot of ways to learn how to do it. What’s important is that you are able to express your own ideas,” Xian explained. “I consider being part of Cinemalaya a great opportunity to share the stories I want to tell.”
Directing “Tabon” has changed Xian in the sense that “I now have a totally different opinion on the people who work behind the camera. I realized that actors have it easy. We’d go to the set, follow instructions, then go home. Filmmaking goes way beyond that. I am responsible for everyone on the set.”
In terms of working with the cast, Xian got actors he wasn’t ashamed to ask help from. “I told them that this was going to be a collaboration. I’ve worked with them before, so I already know what they’re like on the set,” he pointed out.
The film, about a son’s journey back to his hometown to uncover the mystery behind his father’s murder, features Christopher Roxas, Ynna Asistio, Benjie Felipe, Menggie Cobarrubias and Dexter Doria.
With his experiences in making “Tabon,” will he still direct movies in the future? “Definitely! The fight doesn’t end with the release of this film. I’m so happy with it. It’s hard to explain. And I wish viewers would give it a chance,” Xian declared.