From Headlines to Loglines: A behind the Scenes Story

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A film reel for your thoughts – Photographed by Jean Pagtalunan at Starbucks, Trinoma (12/10/16)

Brown skin tone that have captured dozens of sunrise and sunsets, tired but spirited eyes that have seen the depth of hundreds of stories, and a long, dark hair that has been growing with him since he started in the industry–these are the things that Direk Zig Dulay is made of.

Bearing 16 nominations and four prestigious awards, Indie film director Zig Madamba Dulay keeps his career rolling as he paves his way to the filmmaking scene. Currently working on his Cinemalaya 2017 entry entitled, “Baggage” Direk Zig continues to tease the audience with his inexplicable talent in weaving stories found in the society. But before anything else, let us take a replay on how this successful screenwriter and director started.

The Crossing (Paglipay)

Being a writer in nature, the name Zig Dulay, have been present in school publications since he started high school. Born in a secluded province such as Isabela, the young aspiring writer, Zig Dulay, was not familiar with the courses available for college and decided to choose the one course that he thought would suit him, Journalism.

“Iyon (journalism) pinaka familiar sa akin, na pinakamalapit doon sa passion ko…Kasi wala kang kaidea-idea e, na, kapag nanonood ako dati ng Star Cinema, gusto ko makapagsulat ng pelikula, kapag manonood ka ng MMK, gusto mo magsulat sa T.V. Wala ka pang idea kung ano dapat kukunin mo,” he stated.

With that in mind, Direk Zig entered the University of the Philippines in Baguio with the course, Communication Arts major in Journalism and minor in Broadcasting. Throughout his college life, he published different articles which almost always never fails to be seen in Sun Star, a popular community newspaper in Baguio.

In spite of the many lessons he garnered from studying Journalism, Direk Zig eventually realized what his heart truly wants and thus started Director Zig Dulay’s courageous crossing from Journalism to Creative Writing.

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Research, Look and Listen – Photographed by Jean Pagtalunan at Starbucks, Trinoma (12/10/16)

Giving Voice to the Missing

From the mountains of the Summer Capital to the speeding cars in the city, Direk Zig traveled miles to fulfill his passion for writing. Once he realized his interest in the said field, he enrolled in UP Diliman under Araling Pilipino major in Creative Writing and Film.

During his stay in the university, Direk Zig, fortunately, became a protégé of the veteran screenwriter, Armando “Bing” Lao which is famous for the so-called “Found Story,” a technique in scriptwriting, wherein real events and issues happening in the country are taken as an inspiration to build a story that will showcase the hard truths found in one’s surroundings.

Due to this, Direk Zig was able to apply his researching skills in the film industry. In fact, he admitted that even though his research was not used for creating news stories, he is still grateful that he studied Journalism for it helped him in finding interesting stories and characters for his scripts.

“Sobrang laki ng tulong, kasi sa journ tinuruan tayo kung pano kumuha ng datos, pano kumuha ng mga facts, kung pano mag-research…And then, nagagamit mo ‘yun sa pag-research mo ng masinsinan. ‘Dun sa pag create mo ng kwento…”

On the other hand, Direk Zig admitted that unlike the other screenwriters and filmmakers in the Philippines, he still haven’t found his own style yet. He humbly acknowledged that this takes time and that he is only just beginning his journey in the industry, and while he is mostly known for creating socially relevant films, he does not think of this as his definition in the industry.

When asked about the thing he most values in filmmaking, he answered that more than anything, a film should be honest and factual.

“…dapat truthful siya, dapat tama yung mga logic niya (characters) doon sa buhay, dapat naniniwala ka na ‘yun yung gagawin ng character, dapat naniniwala ka na ‘yun yung pupuntahan ng kwento. Yung “truth” sa pelikula yung binibigyan ko ng importansya…”

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Real Passion, Real Stories – Photographed by Jean Pagtalunan at Starbucks, Trinoma (12/10/16)

Furthermore, Direk Zig also gives importance to the message that the film wants to relay to its audience. According to him, this is what makes the film stronger and meaningful.

Striving for the “Ekstra” Mile

And indeed, the things the director values most in films are the reasons for his majestic success. After joining several prestigious film festivals like Cinemalaya, Metro Manila Film Festival, Sinag Maynila, and others, he was able to bag different awards such as, “Best Screenplay” for Ekstra which he co-wrote with Direk Jadaone and Direk Jeffrey Jeturian and “Best Short Film Award” in 2013 for his film, “Missing” in the highly respected Gawad Urian Awards. Direk Zig also became the country’s delegate in film festivals in other countries like in the 2015 Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Qatar, wherein his film “Bambanti” won the Best Film award.

Despite his ongoing success, the director stayed modest and true to his craft. In fact, when asked about the kind of story he wants to write in the future, he answered that he wants to write films about a person’s existence and the meaning of life. But, he honestly stated that he thinks he is not yet ready for those kind of stories for he is still young and inexperienced.

Moreover, having experience in both mainstream and independent cinema, Direk Zig hopes for the feud between the two mentioned types of films to end. He also mentioned that filmmakers should stop battling about what kind of cinema is the best but they all should work together in order to create quality films for their audience. In turn, he wishes for the audience to be also picky with the films that they intend to watch.

“Sana mas aware sila…siguro mas matalino yung pagpanuod ng mga tao. Ma-realize na ang film ay hindi lamang for entertainment but dapat nakakapag-ambag sa kanilang kamalayan bilang mga pilipino.”

Meanwhile, when asked about the thing still missing in his life, he answered, laughing:

“Lovelife nalang talaga ang kulang.”

 


Written by Jean Pagtalunan and Thea Panganiban

Of nostalgia and innocence: Starry Starry Night

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Artistically photographed and wonderfully written, Starry Starry Night is a poignant tale revolving two kindred souls, Mei and Jay, and their difficult journey towards adulthood. Based from the best-selling novel of the same title by Jimmy Liao, a famous Taiwanese illustrator, this film did not stir away from its origin’s charms—creating gorgeous computer graphics of colorful origami animals and even a magnificent moving version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

The film tells about the life of Mei, a 13-year old student, fighting her way out of her parent’s fading romance and the death of her beloved grandfather through imagination; finding solace in escaping reality during its hardest moments. Mei found companionship in Jay, a quiet, isolated boy who turns to his sketchbook to hide scars from his abusive father and overall dysfunctional family. When the two found themselves stuck in a reality they both don’t want to be in, they set foot on a journey looking for stars, momentary happiness and perhaps, love.

Directed and written (screenplay) by Tom Lin in 2011, Starry Starry Night bagged various awards and nominations during its release and amongst these are, Best Cinematography (Jake Pollock) in the 2012 Asia-Pacific Film Festival and Audience Award Feature at N.Y. International Children’s Film Festival way back in 2013.

Although the visual style and youthful romance might remind some audience of Gondry and Anderson’s (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Moonrise Kingdom) work, Lin did not fail in putting his own touch in the film. He told Mei’s story in such a sincere and emotional way that would captivate any type of audience and would generate tears even in the most silent and ordinary scenes. Of course, he achieved this with the help of Jiao Xu’s endearing portrayal of Mei and Hui-Min Lin’s (Jay) natural innocence. It is also thanks to the technical aspects of the film; from its beautiful and timely visual, stunning art direction and post-production, which resulted into magnificent woven scenes exuding warmth, innocence and honesty through its colors, settings and overall feel. These helped in fulfilling the gaps that the too common soundtrack admittedly failed to fill.

While it is agreeable that Lin used a very obvious metaphor in the shape of a missing puzzle piece, it is still a necessary element, since it made way for one of the most powerful scenes to take hold in the film which was the dream sequence, wherein Mei watched her life fall apart into tiny puzzle pieces while desperately trying to catch them using her small hands. It is an excellent depiction of every person’s greatest horror—to see everything they have believed in, quickly crumble before their eyes.

Furthermore, the missing puzzle piece strengthens the film’s message, which is finding the brightest star and using it as a map to lead one back in the person or place it belongs. It is perhaps the reason why it begins and ends on Christmas Eve, to show the viewers that no matter what happens, everyone will find their own way home—that even people possessing the loneliest of hearts, have the capability to belong.

By far, it is obvious that the Starry Starry Night’s secret lies in its simplicity and in its power to grasp the audience’s emotions by simply keeping it real. In spite of the film losing its initial voice and inclining way too much in its first-love story line, Lin still deserves an applause for managing to show a wonderfully crafted film mixed with a huge amount of melancholy and art.

MATER : A Cinemalaya 2015 Short Film Finalist

Poster of our film

Official poster of our film: MATER

One of the greatest news that our organization, called Multimedia Division, ever received was probably the news about our film entitled “Mater.”

The Cinemalaya Foundation which holds the annual Cinemalaya Indie Film Festival, announced the finalists in the Short Film Category last May and our film was amazingly included in the list.

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A still from Mater featuring Ms. Onyl Tecson-Cruz

I was filled with so many emotions when I first heard the news. I remembered how I screamed at the computer screen because of how shocked and happy I was. Haha. Also, to be a part of the biggest Indie Film Festival in the Philippines is really overwhelming. MD worked very hard in order to produce this film and I’m glad that we were given this opportunity.

The festival will be held from August 7-15 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and it will also be screened in Greenbelt 3 (Cinema 5).

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The screening dates for Mater. Created by Elton Marcelo.

If you are interested in our film or in Indie films in general, you should definitely drop by and see all of the films that will be screened during the festival.

SYNOPSIS: When extreme devotion and unconditional love collide, a mother and her daughter find their escape out of the loophole that binds them together.

Below is the link for the trailer of Mater:

We hope to see you there! 🙂