jorel & anj
on what it’s like to make it to the Cannes Film Festival
“IT MEANS ‘BURDEN’ IN FILIPINO,” Jorel Lising, 24, explains. Pasan, the 23-minute sci- thriller short lm he made with his thesis groupmates Apa Agbayani and Jazmin eyes, made it to this year’s Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage Short Film Corner, a platform dedicated to aspiring and established short lm professionals who wish to present their work to producers and production houses for widespread release.
The synopsis: “The crucial importance of memory on modern man’s psyche and personal history; seeking to explore the boundaries and consequences of technology on mental health. At its core, asan is a personal tale of heartbreak, the excesses of ambition and the bonds of love.
Lising, currently a freelance director for digital ads, talks about his Cannes experience and how he deals with the fact that lmmaking, at the end of the day, is a business.
What was the inspiration behind Pasan?
My groupmates and I wanted to do a science ction lm. We were inspired by the understated sci- T series Black Mirror, which looks into how too much technology can be a problem to modern society. We wanted to do something like that, but set locally. The focus is also mainly on relationships. I also incorporated a lot of psychological themes—my sister is a psychiatrist.
How did you plan the production?
eople warned Apa, Jaz and I that grouping with your friends for your college thesis will only result in a ght, but before we started the whole thing, Apa, Jaz and I agreed to keep it at a certain level of professionalism.
The budget is around 1 0,000, so since there are three of us, we shelled out 0,000 each. But we also got a few grants and some sponsors. Food was mostly sponsored, and that was a huge help in terms of cutting down production cost. The shoot locations were also scouted with the help of friends and family. My dad used to own a commissary, and we shot there. The marketplace scene where the doctors meet was shot in Home Depot in Ortigas.
Overall preparation took around two months, but we made sure to plan everything accordingly so we’d nish all the scenes in two days. If we stretched it any longer, we’d have to spend more money.
And the cast?
We had a casting call and a bunch of actors came over. We gave them the script, and briefed them about the tone of the lm. Actor icco Manalo (son of comedian Jose Manalo) and classical theater actress Elle elasco stood out. We also knew that two of our Ateneo professors, Mike Coroza and Ariel Diccion, did theater and poetry so we approached them and they were willing to support us.
What was it like directing your professors?
It was weird You’re used to listening to them, but on set, you call the shots. I had to tell them what to do, etc. But it’s a give and take thing at the end of the day. As a director, I like to prepare as much as I can because there will always be fuck-ups. With Pasan, the toughest was probably time constraint. We’d spend too long on one scene and would have to cut down shooting time for other scenes.
What was your trip to Cannes like?
I learned about the business side of lmmaking more than anything. It’s a three- oor lm market, basically, full of people buying and selling lm rights. I learned that you have to treat the movie at the end of the day as a product. Like any product, you need marketing. You need to study your market, your audience. And that will affect how you write your lm. It puts limitations to the creative aspect, the writing, the treatment, and everything.
I went with Lyka Gonzalez and Yumi Catabijan, because I shot their lm Agos: The
Manila Dream, a lm about urban migration, and it made it to the Court Metrage too.
What does it take to write a good film?
Imagination. Absorb the things you like, and take the good things from it, and piece it together to make something original.
How do you feel about having to put limitations on yourself as a filmmaker
in order to monetize your work?
It’s a challenge, but it’s also intrinsic to the job. You need to know your audience so that they can appreciate the work you make. As a newcomer, you’re trying to get a foothold in the industry. obody trusts your vision yet. I think you constantly have to prove that you can make a good product in spite of your limitations.
Financial limitations are more of a problem, since you have to gure out how you can actualize your vision, without alienating your audience. Of course, there are other ways to solve problems other than just money, but that’s the challenge of it.
What was the reception like for
Good. A lot of people tell me it reminds them of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but we didn’t have that in mind while making the lm.
How did you grow after this whole experience?
It gives me more con dence to make more movies. It af rms me about my vision—like, okay this is what I want to do, and this is how I want to do it. A lot of Filipinos shoot lms that do well both here and abroad, and I want to contribute to that, to make Filipino lmmakers more con dent about what they do.
I’m planning to join local lm competitions, like Cinemalaya. I’m also brewing up this idea about a Marcos lm, written from the perspective of our generation.
Photos: Scenes from Pasan