Filipino director on his new esports film, why he loves making horror movies, and surviving as a filmmaker in his country

The story revolves around a gifted newcomer, Hazel [Loisa Andalio], who toils at an ailing internet café to support her family. She gains overnight internet fame through her gaming streams, subsequently earning her a spot to represent the Philippines in an international esports competition held in Hong Kong.

It’s a journey of self-realization and chasing dreams, with notable mention to a Filipino-made, first-person shooter game, Project Xandata. It was an honor to collaborate with the creators and showcase the talent in Filipino game development.

Loisa Andalio as Hazel in a snapshot from Friendly Fire.

This significant shift in storytelling comes from Red, who at 32, is well-known for his crime and horror films.

“I prefer horror since it’s chiefly director-led, highly visual and reliant on cinematic language,” Red expresses. “I’ve always appreciated the less dialogue-driven aspects and the structural techniques of horror.

“And genre-wise, Romance and Horror are popular locally. They do well in the Philippines.”

Impressive Hong Kong film career of Wu Ma with 300 acting roles, 45 directorial roles

However, it appears that filmmakers themselves are currently not enjoying similar success.

“In the Philippines, a third world country, being a filmmaker is not easy”, Red shares. “If your sole aim is to produce feature films, you’re faced with the task of making two or three movies a year.

“And if you’re part of the less brisk ‘grant-festival circuit’ that produces art-house films, it’s a four-year cycle. Thus on the side, you need to do other jobs like shooting TV commercials or prime-time serials for local channels.

“Or maybe you could rely on another area of expertise like editing other people’s films, or work as a cameraperson,” notes Red. “Given the economic circumstances and film budget constraints here, you’re left with no option but to juggle multiple tasks.”

Harvey Bautista as Ryan in a snapshot from Friendly Fire.

Yet, regardless of the hurdles, one can imply that Red would have excelled in his field.

As the eldest son of the renowned experimental filmmaker Raymond Red (winner of the Cannes Short Film Palme d’Or), he directed his first short, The Threshold, at the tender age of 15, marking his first international film festival experience in Hanover, Germany.

His first feature direction was Rekorder at the age of 21. It earned him the Best New Director award at Vancouver International Film Festival in 2014 and became the first Philippine film to be internationally distributed by Netflix. Thus began our relationship with Netflix,” shares Red. “Everything just fell into place for me, and it opened doors. So now, whenever I make a new film, I know I have access to that platform.

“They’ve supported my other films on their platform too. However, recently, Amazon Prime has been more proactive in this region. This explains why my films such as Neomanila and Deleter are available on Prime instead of Netflix.”

Coleen Garcia as Sonya in a snapshot from Friendly Fire.

His psychological thriller Deleter in 2022, won seven awards, including Best Picture and Best Director at the Metro Manila Film Festival. Interestingly, Red forgot to mention this.

While acknowledging the unfailing support from his acclaimed father, Red narrates some of his father’s decisions that could have been detrimental to him later on.

“I appreciate that while I was growing up, he never visited the set. He never stepped in to help, and frankly, it was for my own good,” Red recalls. “I am glad he did not because it meant people couldn’t say, ‘His dad shot that for him’ or ‘His dad produced that.’

“I was left to forge my own path, and inadvertently, that has contributed to making my identity unique.”

Loisa Andalio as Hazel in a snapshot from Friendly Fire.

However, after earning his own credentials and successfully setting up his own Evolve Studios – Red can now plan collaborative projects with his father. The studios’ ongoing projects include the HBO Asia series Halfworlds, which was delayed due to the pandemic.

“We often joke around and have discussions. We’re like friends as the age difference between us is not much (Raymond is 59). We even enjoy drinking together and are very honest with each other,” says Red.

“He led an underground Super 8 movement in the 80s and made a lot of experimental films in the 90s, but he never ventured into making feature-length films for mass audiences.

“Eventually, I suggested that we could collaborate someday and he could be the cinematographer as he’s both a director and a cinematographer. I, on the other hand, don’t have much professional expertise as a director of photography. He was open to the proposal.”

Seven awards won by Red for his psychological thriller Deleter at the 2022 Metro Manila Film Festival.

This family collaboration is not limited to his father. “My younger brother Nikolas now works as my editor and my cousin Rae co-authors many of my scripts. Also, my uncle Daniel, who sadly is no more, was the production designer on two of my features. So we are an entire family of filmmakers,” he adds.

Lastly, regarding his name, he says, “Red is of Spanish origin, but many mistook it to be my screen name. As for Mikhail – I was born in 1991, the same year when Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the Soviet president. My parents decided to name me after him.”

Source link