Bela Padilla hopes to inspire co-actors to turn ideas into content

!hola - MJ Marfori - The Philippine Star
Bela Padilla hopes to inspire co-actors to turn ideas into content
Bela shares a scene with Zanjoe Marudo, one of the male leads in the film.f
STAR / File

Many people think of an idea, conceptualize and visualize. For Bela Padilla, she executes! This actress turned writer and director is the doer this industry needs for a splurge of inspiration.

Her directorial debut film 366 is a testament to that as she shared how a simple vacation turned into a mega project.

“2018 nagbakasyon ako sa Maldives, ito yung sunod-sunod na may story na may couple and families that sadly passed away in Maldives and madaming tragedies,” said Bela.

“Andoon kami noong time na iyon. Something was happening in a different island with a Filipino couple and it was so intense and heavy na hindi ko siya makalimutan like pag-uwi ko ng Pilipinas nag-message ako sa travel agent sa Pilipinas like OK lang ba siya?”

This columnist during the Zoom interview with the actress, who’s currently based in London.

As she got back from the trip, Bela could not move on from that story and she had to let it off her chest. Little did she know that it would be the start of another dream to be ticked off her bucket list thanks to a colleague and friend.

She recalled, “I was so bothered and una ko minessage si direk Dan (Villegas) kasi nag-taping kami ng Sino Ang May Sala? and so I recounted to direk Dan what happened and na-visualize niya na as a movie iyong concept.”

Bela, who is known for speaking her mind, said that the lessons to be picked up in her film 366 are it’s an artform of her ideas and food for thought the public should chew on even if we are just onlookers of other people’s challenges or misfortunes, “but more importantly than the tragedy we are always scared to discuss and talk about, what it’s really like to live after something bad happens to you. Especially in a country like the Philippines, when something bad happens to you, you have to move on, you have to get up the next day and go to work. Like so much is expected of us in our society as Filipina women that we have to be so strong so I wanted to create a movie that explains to people that there are different stages and moving on is not just one formula for all.”

Bela’s directorial debut, 366, is set to premiere on April 22. Viva, nevertheless, has already entrusted her with another film to do in June or July in London, which will also be written, directed and starred by her.

Making the film was no easy feat. With the physical challenges that were way beyond our control during the pandemic, Bela over extended herself to make 366 happen at the height of COVID-19 pandemic very far from her comfortable artista life in Manila.

She said, “Hindi lang nila alam na ang dami ko rin pinagdadaanan. Like during the pandemic, I had to make a flight and go to Turkey twice. Grabe parang every moment pwede ako mag-break down kasi ang hirap-hirap. I had to fly to Turkey alone, walang ibang staff na sumama and I have a team (where) iyong iba hindi pa nag-English pero naitawid naman namin.”

Bela is a hands-on director. She told us that she even viewed the film for more than a thousand times. And from the editing down to the music, 366 is a story that hits the same spot in her heart each time. “I’m very easily affected by films, music and television. Last month, nakiki-Wi-Fi lang ako sa isang café and may bagong sinend si Kean Cipriano na version ng isang song of the film. Iyon nga, kahit saan man ako mapadpad, nasa café man, bahay or proper editing room, I feel like I’m still going through the experience.”

During the pandemic, celebrities left the country to relocate and Bela chose London as her base. In true millennial nature, she believes that deciding a major transfer across the globe is never a roadblock for her to touch base with her supporters and have a career in the Philippines.

“London is just my base. During the pandemic, I realized that you have to start taking control of your narrative like I did not like the idea na obviously, it was a global pandemic and a lot of people were suffering more. But also, I saw in other countries na kids were already going back to school, people were out, were swimming and they were living a normal life and I wanted that for myself,” she explained.

“The pandemic also taught me that the world is so small. Everything is so accessible pala talaga and if you really want to do something you can do it at the comfort of your own home.”

Her bosses at Viva commended Bela because of her hard work and even though 366 is showing on April 22, they already entrusted her with another film in June or July in London, which will also be written, directed and starred by her.

Bela hopes that her actions would inspire co-actors to make their ideas turn into reality. “Iyong mga artista, sila kasama mo araw-araw sa set at lahat iyan may ideas, lahat iyan may concept and lahat sinasabi hindi ako marunong magsulat. But that’s not true kasi nakaka-arte ka sa eksena eh, so you know how to visualize and then eventually verbalize what you are feeling,” she said.

“If hindi man magsulat, I think actors are very equipped to direct because they also see the scenes. There are so many brilliant and smart actors in the last 15 years of my life I definitely believe that there are so many out there that deserve to give themselves a shot.”


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