Domestic drama with a touch of thriller

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - “As an editor, I’ve seen the works of famous directors. They are very good directors. From their output, I’ve learned a lot.” This is how Edgardo “Boy” Vinarao shifted gears from splicing films and arranging sequences to staging the mise-en-scéne of a narrative. Director Boy’s editing work began in 1976 allowing him to work with the masters such as Ishmael Bernal, Maning Borlaza and Lino Brocka. From there, the film editor had witnessed the various directing styles and the best film production practices. In 1993, Boy had his directorial debut in the romance-drama Secret Love.        

“It was easy (madali). Walang problema,” says direk Boy of his transition. “But there was something I had to work on.” And it was the acting part, which includes actor’s characterization, nuances of movement and facial expression and blocking.

“For example, (I have to tell my actors) how to maintain (and sustain) the emotion of (their characters). This is what I picked up from Lino,” recalls Boy. “Lino was more on acting. To maintain the emotion, you have to study the characters and look for some device where the stars can be motivated.”

In the span of two decades, Boy has done mainstream films and explored different genres (comedy, drama and action). As a film artist, he has grown by leaps and bounds. More than two dozens of films have been credited to his name. 

As a director, Boy says, “My directing style will depend on what kind of story I have.” His background as film editor has complemented his work as director. “If you are a film editor and you switch to being a director, you can easily adjust. And you have to adjust to what kind of story you’ll direct. (And) I’m very much particular with the technical aspect like sounds, music and dialogue.” All directors will agree that lapses in any of the filmmaking aspects could ruin the entire narrative, regardless of the sterling performance of the cast and well-photographed scenes.  

Boy is at it again after his last movie in 2002. This time around, he narrates a domestic drama with a touch of thriller in Bacao. It is one of the four entries to the Sineng Pambansa Horror Plus Film Festival of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. The other participating films are Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes’ T’yanak; Gil Portes’ Hukluban; and Romy Suzara’s Sigaw sa Hatinggabi. Bacao is the first film venture of Oro De Siete Productions.   

“I’m from Isabela. Our family has a piece of land, where we plant corn,” says Boy of the film’s inspiration. “Kapag tinanim mo, sandali lang tutubo na (the corn grows easily on fertile soil).”

This parallels the story of a couple named Mayet and Abel, played by Michelle Madrigal and Arnold Reyes, respectively in the movie. The owners of a corn plantation want to have a child of their own, but they remain childless no matter how they try. The film will detail the interesting ways they do. This is where the conflict takes off as Mayet wants to rebuild her family tree, as Boy says. “She grew up with her lola at hindi alam ng lola kung saan siya galing. She wants to have a big family and to have many children. Even though the couple are healthy, hindi talaga sila makabuo. That’s the irony. ”

The domestic drama the couple gets embroiled in also involves some members of the community such as plantation workers and the quack doctor. 

“When the story won (second place in the Sineng Pambansa scriptwriting competition), I had to look for the stars,” recalls Boy. “Marami akong dinaanang artista. I want to see her (Michelle) and we offered her the role. I gave her one week, and then two weeks. Hindi siya sumasagot. (I hadn’t gotten a reply). If she would not accept it, I had to shelve the project.” Boy says that Michelle’s features fit Mayet’s captivating barrio lass persona.

Aside from the marital issue which makes for a compelling story, what cineastes will look forward to is how Boy interprets gore and thriller. “It is a kind of interpretation. I’ve done patayan scenes and I’ve shown them (in my previous movies).” This time around, he has done the scenes in a subtle way. With that, Boy assures that there’s something left to tickle the audience’s imagination.

(Bacao will be shown in all SM Cinema branches from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.)

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