No cuts in 105 minutes? Stars welcome ‘long take’ challenge in Adolf Alix film  

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
No cuts in 105 minutes? Stars welcome �long take� challenge in Adolf Alix film   
Karnabal lead star Edgar Allan ‘EA’ Guzman (third from left) is pictured with director Adolf Alix Jr. (second from left) and his veteran co-stars Gina Alajar, Ricky Davao and Joel Saracho after a storycon. The film is produced under B.C Entertainment led by CEO Karen Ortua (leftmost).

No cuts in 105 minutes? No problem.

Edgar Allan “EA” Guzman and his veteran co-stars Gina Alajar, Ricky Davao and Joel Saracho admitted to feeling scared yet ready to take on the “long take” challenge in director Adolf Alix Jr.’s upcoming film project Karnabal.

The movie is based on a 10-year-old script by Fudge de Leon and produced under B.C Entertainment (a rising player in the movie-making scene, which is also behind Nora Aunor’s big-screen comeback Mananambal).

It tells the story of Caloy, whose job is to install giant billboards. Then one day, he “climbs and wants to jump off a billboard,” EA said of his character. As his reasons for doing so get unraveled, a different drama unfolds in the view below, with things becoming a carnival and exposing the feelings and prejudices of the Filipino society through his wife, his mother, his angry supervisor, the growing number of kibitzers, the irate barangay captain, and the press.

EA with girlfriend Shaira Diaz, who also stars in the film.

The movie and TV director intends to capture everything that transpires — all 105 minutes of it — in one long shot and no cuts.

“The actual one hour and 45 minutes, we will shoot it without cuts. It’s challenging that’s why we have our cast to help us mount the film,” direk Adolf said during a storycon.

“It’s also good that while attempting to climb the billboard, he (Caloy) can also see different points of view — the spectators, the reporters, his co-workers — so the story revolves around that. So, it’s like you’re really watching a man who suddenly climbs a billboard,” said the director, who plans to shoot at one of the mega billboards along EDSA Guadalupe.

Direk Adolf with writer Fudge de Leon.

Adolf, whose past works include the films Donsol, Adela, Kadin and GMA shows AraBella, The Fake Life, Magpakailanman, among others, explained why he decided to give his new movie a long-take treatment.

He said, “As a director, sometimes, you also want something so different.” He did this filming style in the shortfilm Pila sa PCSO starring Gina Pareno, but this will be his first attempt for a full-length feature.

“With the concept, I think it’s more exciting to make it that way because it’s like just matching the emotion of (EA’s) character and then of the whole ensemble. And so that you can also feel what his character feels without cuts,” he said.

“I guess, as a director, I’m excited about the actors’ performances like how they will make it work. I’m interested (to find out) that if there is no cut, how can EA, for example, sustain such dynamics?” he said.

Adolf hopes the film becomes a testament of his cast’s acting and their dedication to their characters. He can already imagine the team behind the scenes — from the camera operators to the sound man and director of photography — also coming together to make it work.

“Ang saya to see everyone working and on their toes because it’s only one take,” he said.

For the filmmaker, among the most challenging parts of the shoot set to happen soon will be the logistics (perhaps involving cranes and drones?) and the rehearsals, including for the rescue scene that will involve the SWAT team.

Meanwhile, the stars shared their fears and excitement about the film project.

Leading the cast is EA, whom direk Adolf first worked with in the 2008 romantic-drama Imoral. The latter is also directing the actor in the upcoming Kapuso series Lilet Matias: Attorney-At-Law.

Besides the expected challenge of Adolf’s long take of filming, EA said he’s also not sure how to approach his character yet because he has a fear of heights.

“I get dizzy easily and I’m afraid of heights. Even at the mall, just being on the escalator going up, when I look at the ground, I just can’t. Even on the ferris wheel, when it’s not moving, nagwawala ako,” he revealed.

Despite that, EA said yes to this project because it promised him something different to dip into.

“I told direk, okay, I’m gonna face my fear. And I’m not getting any younger. I’m looking for something unique to do. For me, this is the right project so I told the director, ‘Let’s go, let’s do this.’”

As preparation for the shoot, he’s looking to familiarize and get himself used to the heights.

“This is very challenging for me and I am looking forward to experiencing it, but right now I need to prepare myself and go to elevated places. Direk Adolf suggested Cloud 9 in Antipolo. (He said) I should train myself. Go to high-rise malls, that’s what I should do. I’m also excited to see the result.”

The veteran stars, on the other hand, see their years of being in the industry and lengthy experience in theater coming into play for their roles in Karnabal.

Gina, who plays the media person reporting on the case of Caloy, said, “If we’re successful in doing this, wow, this is the director (referring to Adolf). And of course, it would be very challenging for EA and I’m just so glad there are young people who have such foresight and want to do something different.

“It’s a challenge for me, too. I said, can I memorize the dialogue and have timing as well because it’s difficult. What if I make a mistake, will I have to repeat everything from the top?

“So we need to prepare for that — physically, mentally and emotionally. Imagine, we will be under the sun for the whole time, no one can take an umbrella, no one can stay under the shade. We’re just going to wait for our turn and our cue,” she shared.

For Ricky, who plays the barangay captain in the film, “it’s really exciting,” adding, “Imagine Rope directed by Hitchcock, then Birdman, one shot reel din yun and several years ago, we had the (Filipino film) Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria, one whole take din yun.”

He continued, “We will have to memorize long lines (of dialogue) at the same time, there’s going to be improvisation because of the one-shot, one-take reel. I hope there is precision but if not, we can improvise.

“The good thing is, as Joel mentioned, we have experience in theater because, you know, for two hours you’re in character… We just have an agreement that whoever makes a mistake, mag-bo-blow out. There will be a penalty (laughs).”

Joel, who plays Caloy’s supervisor, also likened the film to doing a theater.

“Since it’s real time, it’s like you’re actually acting in a play. From the rehearsals, you develop your character, everything, in your mind, so that when you arrive on set, you’re ready, you’ve memorized it (your script), you know your blocking and your cues.

“The difference here is the size of your acting space, the size of your stage… and you play everything by ear. So, it’s scary actually, but exciting,” he said before joking, “But I really thought the shoot was (going to be at a billboard) in Central Park in New York. It’s in Guadalupe, EDSA pala.”

Also in the cast of Karnabal are Jaclyn Jose and Shaira Diaz.

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