‘Onward and upward,’ ‘Direk’ Eddie
When National Artist Eddie Romero became chairman of the jury in the first Cinemalaya film fest in 2005, my yearning to make a film was rekindled. He was fascinated with the way digital films were produced—they’re relatively affordable and have limited shooting days.
At the time, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts gave all National Artists a budget to pursue their craft. Direk Eddie didn’t waste time. When he approached some young filmmakers to co-write a script with him and they declined the offer, the project landed at my doorstep.
Romero’s last two films were “Faces of Love” (2007) and “Teach Me to Love” (2008), which we co-wrote with him. His young team also included Paolo Villaluna (as his assistant director) and cinematographer Jun Aves.
Actually, Direk Eddie didn’t really need a co-writer, because he had already figured out what he wanted to do with the movie in his mind. He probably just wanted to impart his wisdom to the new generation of filmmakers.
Recalling our e-mail exchanges, he talked about “Faces of Love” one day after Christmas in 2005: “All is quiet for the moment after a long and hearty Christmas lunch with my little tribe, and what quiet does for me is get my mind wandering—which leads me to a possible plot complication to extend the film’s ‘Where is love?’ theme.
“Let’s try to avoid having scenes mainly for the purpose of establishing plot details. If a scene can’t stand on its merits, it should be avoided. Good scenes should show aspects of character without anybody having to say so.”
In July 2006, when the cameras started to grind, the director’s sense of humor during shooting was evident: “We just completed our first cut, and we’re running a little short of 80 minutes—so, I’m considering adding a scene. Would you like to take a crack at it? Like, today? As the executioner said to the death row convict, ‘Have a good day!’”
As others have observed, his last two films may not have been his best works, but he wasn’t a National Artist for nothing. Not a lot of people know that he had seizures on the set of “Teach,” but not once did the great director call it quits—until he finished the film he wanted to make!
The legendary filmmaker’s untimely passing reminds me of his memorable e-mails, which always ended with, “Onward and upward!” You will be sorely missed, Direk Eddie!
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