LYKA GON­ZA­LEZ

Shares her filmic vi­sion

FHM (Philippines) - - Contents -

in­ter­view: ka­t­rina marie zablan styling: De­bra Ber­nales | makeup: amanda padilla Hair: anne cas­taño

Lyka Gon­za­les would have never ex­pected that her old rou­tine of watch­ing movies at Green­hills cinema af­ter school when she was a child could lead her to a pro­fes­sion in film and doc­u­men­tary mak­ing. Let alone for a film of hers to be fea­tured in both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­vals and film houses, in­clud­ing the pres­ti­gious Cannes Court Métrege. But af­ter hav­ing a chat with her, we say it isn’t much of a stretch to say that this woman’s name was meant to be in lights.

From start­ing her own pro­duc­tion com­pany, eleven eleven, while she was still in col­lege to now trav­el­ing all over the Philip­pines to make doc­u­men­taries of dif­fer­ent indige­nous cul­tures, you could say that Lyka has al­ready proven her worth be­hind the cam­era, but now we get to see how she is as a sub­ject and be­lieve us, we’d be fools to let this chance to get to know her more go to waste.

Can you tell us more about your film, Agos?

Agos is a fic­tional de­pic­tion of a Filipino ur­ban mi­grants' fan­tasy. It ex­plores the vi­sion they have of Manila and the dreams they wish to ful­fill. I made Agos when I was still a col­lege stu­dent. We filmed it in 2014 and re­leased it in 2015. It was based on our the­sis on ur­ban mi­gra­tion and how the vi­sion of Manila, the rhetoric and the fan­tasy, is shaped by the nar­ra­tives we tell.

How did film­ing in the prov­ince af­fect your art?

The sto­ry­telling be­came more in­ti­mate. It gave me a clear sense of place. There were raw mo­ments with the peo­ple I was shoot­ing that I was able to com­mu­ni­cate in the film. Let’s say, kun­yari, a farmer, tapos tatawa siya or like, ewan ko, may mo­ment lang and you would see that in the film, but in a way that it’s be­come more in­ten­tional and pur­pose­ful.

You also do doc­u­men­taries, right? Which do you pre­fer: the fea­ture or the docu?

Now, I like doc­u­men­tary films. I like cov­er­ing sto­ries of peo­ple from all over the world. In my as­sign­ments, I’d be sent across the Philip­pines to know the story in that place. Tapos nakik­i­lala ko yung mga tao roon and yung cul­ture nila and it’s a dif­fer­ent way of see­ing the Philip­pines.

Why, what about our coun­try that some peo­ple have trou­ble see­ing?

When you’re in Manila, or when you’re in the big cities, parang you get jaded by what you see and what you hear in the me­dia. We see the Philip­pines this way–its all po­lit­i­cal wars, a lot of mur­ders, and a lot of deaths so parang I’m try­ing to show a per­spec­tive that’s not usu­ally seen in the mass me­dia. I’ve met peo­ple who are do­ing things dif­fer­ently in, let’s say, Sor­so­gon, or Palawan. I want to rec­og­nize these peo­ple who are do­ing some­thing for the coun­try, do­ing some­thing for their com­mu­nity. And that gives me hope.

Do you have any un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences out on the field?

I met this fur­ni­ture de­signer in Sor­so­gon who, apart from de­sign­ing his own ho­tel us­ing ma­te­ri­als you find in na­ture, also de­signed spa­ces in Sor­so­gon where com­mu­ni­ties can gather—and the de­sign itself was in­spired by na­ture. He used bamboo, wood, yung mga ga­nun. It’s more sus­tain­able that way be­cause it helps lessen the car­bon foot­print. And when you see peo­ple do­ing things dif­fer­ently, and think­ing dif­fer­ently, I get in­spired. There’s hope for this coun­try be­cause some peo­ple be­lieve in their own com­mu­ni­ties.

When you visit these com­mu­ni­ties, do you de­tach your­self from your sub­ject or do you feel the need to con­nect with the peo­ple you shoot?

When I’m shoot­ing I just don’t shoot and leave. Most of my as­sign­ments last from three days to a week. I stay there for as long as I can and talk to the peo­ple so I can build re­la­tion­ships with them. I want them to know that we are equal, that we can share the same emo­tions the same ex­pe­ri­ence even though we come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds.

Have you ever felt that you were too close to your sub­ject that it af­fected you and how you han­dled the as­sign­ment?

I do have to step back at times in or­der to see the big­ger pic­ture of the story but it’s never a com­plete de­tach­ment. It’s about find­ing a way to be able to dig deep into a story but still have a way to resur­face with­out drown­ing and los­ing your­self in the process.

So, how did it feel be­ing in front of the cam­era for a change?

It was both fun and chal­leng­ing, play­ing char­ac­ters and chan­nel­ing dif­fer­ent parts of my­self I don’t usu­ally present. It gave me an un­der­stand­ing how it is to be the sub­ject. I re­al­ized that, if you’re be­hind the lens, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and es­tab­lish­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with the team or your sub­ject are es­sen­tial in telling the story and pre­sent­ing an im­age that is true to the vi­sion.fhm

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