Vilma plays extra in 1st indie starrer

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

Maybe curious about stars of her stature going indie, Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos was finally lured into doing one, but only when she was offered a script that touched her heart. Ekstra is “it,” produced by lawyer Joji Alonso and directed by Jeffrey Jeturian (who’s behind the hit Kapamilya soap Be Careful With My Heart).

“The truth,” Jeffrey told Funfare, “is that Joji and I submitted several scripts to Vilma for consideration. We knew that other people have also sent her scripts. We were honored that Vilma chose one that she liked so much.”

Of course, Vilma has never experienced how it is to be an extra because she played the titular role in her first movie as a child actress, Ging (by Premiere Productions), followed by Trudis Liit (by Sampaguita Pictures).

But she knows the life of an extra (bit player).

“I feel for them,” said Vilma who has only seven shooting days more to wrap up. “They earn very little compared to the talent fee of the stars. ‘Yung mga bida get star treatment samantalang karamihan sa mga extra karaniwan nasa tabi-tabi lang. Sometimes, nauubusan sila ng pagkain sa set, and they have to commute to the set and back home. Kapag nagkakamali sila, kung minsan nasisigawan pa sila.”

In the movie, Vilma plays a bit player in soaps, cast as one of the sakadas in one of them.

Ekstra is therefore Vilma’s tribute to extras without whom a film will not be complete.

“Vilma is every director’s dream actress,” said Jeffrey. “She’s very easy to work with. She’s very cooperative, she listens to and follows instructions, and she respects her co-workers. It has been my long-time dream to work with her. To borrow her favorite word, it’s ‘heaven’ to be working with Vilma.”

Jeffrey recalled that during the story conference, Vilma reminded the so-called “small” actors in the movie, “Kayo na ang bahala sa akin ha. Okey lang na masapawan ninyo ako, kasi ganoon naman talaga ang mga esktra, di ba? Palaging nasasapawan.”

On the set, the usually unmade-up Vilma easily blends with the rest of the real extras.

“Before we started shooting,” said Vilma, “we got together, parang nag-workshop kami. Joji and Jeffrey did that para on the set walang mai-starstruck sa akin, so that we would all be comfortable with one another at walang maiilang sa akin — you know, lahat kami extra, walang star.”

The only “stars” in the movie are those who are appearing in cameo roles as themselves, including Piolo Pascual, Cherie Gil, Eula Valdez, Pilar Pilapil, Marian Rivera and Richard “Sir Chief” Yap.

A lieutenant-colonel in real life, Vilma shoots only on weekends, preoccupied as she is with her main duty as Governor of Batangas. By end of next month, she will start to campaign for re-election.

Joji plans to enter Ekstra in this year’s Cinemalaya (in July), Directors’ Showcase Category.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected] You may also send your questions to [email protected] For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)











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