If you’re into the Pinoy indie movie scene you’d know that QCinema, Quezon City’s Indie Film Festival is happening this weekend (well it formally opened yesterday). The Film Fest celebrates the Filipino cinematic ingenuity with past festival pieces, relevant local creations, choice international selections and the yearly film fest circuit – pitting 7 new works by 7 new filmmakers.
One of the films included in the Festival Circuit is Best. Partee. Ever. — a story of an affluent gay man’s years struggling and surviving for five years in a city jail while battling his case for drug pushing.
We got to talk to Howard “HF” Yambao about his experiences in crafting his first feature-length film for the competition.
Ungeek.ph (UN): First of all, congratulations! Tell us a bit more about your film. How did the story come about?
HF Yambao (HF): BPE tells the story of a young, discreet, gay dude from Manila’s rich (and powerful) social circle. It starts at an actual party night – with booze, dancing, flirting, and well, drugs. The lead character, Mikey (played by JC De Vera), after a crazy night, somehow ends up in jail. This is where the real story begins and centers on. The story is told through the central character’s eyes as he goes through the harrowing experiences of being incarcerated and how it would later affect him (either for better or worse). The story is actually inspired by real events, from some personal experience/s and stories from friends I met in my partying days.
UN: Why a story on drugs? Does it have anything to do with the current socio-political climate (EJK/ War on Drugs) or was that purely coincidental?
HF: That is purely coincidental. When we started this project about two years ago, it was more about making a film that was somehow personal, but still be able to share a story that is relevant to the youth then as it is now. Given the current socio-political climate, I think this is the best possible timing… maybe the universe conspired to bring this story to life now at a time when there is an on-going war on drugs by the current admin? I think this film will be able to shed a different light on how we look at drug abuse/addiction, the difference between users and pushers, partee drugs as a way to socialize, way to cope, how the youth looks at it as something usual than taboo. I also want to show that there are other more appropriate ways of dealing with it instead of the EJK, and that there is hope for people to change for the good.
But more than drugs, the real story here revolves around how the LGBT inmates are treated behind bars. So that, I feel is an interesting subject as well. Something we hardly see in mainstream media.
UN: What are the challenges as a first time indie-feature director and how did you overcome these challenges?
HF: Technically, it is not my first time. But it is the first feature that will be shown to the public so in a way the experience is very different – like the weight is much more real, you know?
Howard ‘HF’ Yambao has been in love with films for years. In the past he used to create commercials for commercial brands and government agencies and worked as a segment producer for TV. He also has a background in creative concepts and strategic marketing creation during his stint at an award-winning PR agency.
HF: The challenge really for any director is to be able to transform your vision into reality. Show it how you see it. And that means that one has to make sure that all aspects of the filmmaking process, from pre-prod to post, completely share that vision. So the challenge is to be able to transpose this vision from your production team to your actors, and make them really believe in it.
HF: On a more practical note, one of the biggest challenges especially for an indie-film like ours would always boil down to budget. We’re working with a very limited budget and the story requires that we have these big set pieces with hundreds of extras and we also shot inside a real prison with real inmates. So it’s how do you fit your budget to accommodate the script sort of issue. So we had to weigh down all possibilities to make ends meet, be able to distinguish which parts from the original screenplay should we keep and which ones we should transpose or change or let go off. That also goes into casting actors and choosing the right production people and equipment, location, post production, etc. Once you lock that down, and have your vision clear then you are good to go.
UN: Without spoiling anything, what are the Top 3 fondest scenes to shoot and/or lookout for in BPE?
The big fight/crowd scenes, of course.
The Christmas cultural show.
That romantic scene concerning the lead character.
UN: If funding is no issue, what would be your dream project to shoot?
HF: An LOTR style fantasy epic that delves into the rich mythical heritage of the Philippines including the anitos, engkantos, diwatas, and the like.
Or a zombie movie set in EDSA 1986 at the height of People Power! That would be fun!
UN: Will you release a DVD and/or a Bluray of this? Complete with Behind-the-scenes featurette?
We are definitely looking into that, hopefully after a commercial theater run. But for starters, we are already in talks of putting out a record of the film’s original music. We have some really great EDM tracks.
UN: What’s next for Direk HF?
There are already a couple of other screenplays that are lined up. Looking for possible producers. lol. Meanwhile, we are hoping to be able to share BPE and my other new full length film ‘Kristo’, to the rest of the world via international film festivals.
Best Partee Ever will be having its GALA premier at the Gateway Mall Gateway Cineplex 1 at 9:30 pm this Saturday, October 15, 2016. After that it will run through the festival circuit and the partner cinemas. The show also stars Jordan Herrera, Mercedes Cabral, Odette Khan, Kristofer King and Aaron Rivera.
10/15 Sat 9:30P Gateway Cineplex 1
10/16 Sun 6:30P Robinsons Movieworld Galleria 8
10/18 Tue 1:00P Gateway Cineplex 1
10/18 Tue 6:00P Trinoma Mall Cinema 1
10/18 Tue 8:30P Robinsons Movieworld Galleria 7
10/20 Thu 4:00P UP Town Center
10/20 Thu 6:00P Gateway Cineplex 1
10/21 Fri 6:00P Robinsons Movieworld Galleria 7
10/22 Sat 1:00P Trinoma Mall Cinema 1
For more info on QCinema and the other movie lineups, click HERE.