If you're one of the 13 daily readers of my blog, then you must fairly know I had been fully prepared for the harsh reviews of the formula movie I wrote. I spoke too soon. A harsh review hurts. Plain and simple.
I was doing some work yesterday for the DVD release of My First Romance when one of the Creative Researchers of the company interrupted me to give her opinion about the movie. She first told me about the positives (we all do this) then proceeded blurting out the numerous negatives. I was astounded. She asked me if it's okay if she continues and I said yes coz I did was curious. She continued by telling me what the Cinema One reviewer said about the movie. ("I wanted to walk out from the flick!", "Heart is overly sweet!", etcetera.) In fairness, the reviews were all valid. I completely agree with the negative comments. Had I not been a part of the movie, I would have said the same things, BUT it doesn't change the fact that hearing the reviews really hurt especially when they make it appear that we seriously believe that we have an art film. (For the record, we dont!:) ) I'm not putting a defensive stand here (well I guess I am) but if only they KNOW the POLITICAL ECONOMY of mainstream moviemaking, they would have been kinder and more appreciative with our work. (But of course, that's why it's called a review, not a study! :) )
My good friend and cinematographer Neil Daza texted me last week to tell me that he enjoyed our episode. I was ecstatic of course, coz Neil is a god, but nonchalantly told him that it's a "mababaw" movie. "But enjoyable" was his reply and I did not contest anymore. I then told him "good luck on Boobita Rose!". (Boobita Rose is the tentative title of the movie he's doing for Viva, a comedy starring Ruffa Mae Quinto under Joyce Bernal's direction.) He must have thought there was sarcasm in my greeting when he texted back that his colleagues have been heckling at him for accepting the project. He told me that he took the offer because it's a challenge for him to provide new visuals to a relatively lightweight genre. I told Neil that I completely understand.
Methinks that it's actually far more difficult to make a formula/genre movie than a freeform/art film. In the latter, you are free to explore. Free to be creative. Free to do what you want. I mean, where's the difficulty in that? Whereas in doing the former, you have to find something new out of something old. You cannot be extreme. You have to find a middle ground. You have to please the bosses (with emphasis on bosses.) You have to think of the box-office. You have to think of the fans. You have to think of the star's images. All these, while trying to keep your creative sanity. Now tell me if that's easy!
I told my good friend Arah (UP Film graduate/Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay writer) about my text exchange with Neil. Arah told me she's been teased also by her batchmate friends and it's really frustrating on her part. Being a UP grad (who've been taught about what's art and what's not) and former soap opera writer myself, I relate with her (although lucky me, my blockmates are more understanding and appreciative). Arah said that she retorts back by telling them that proud and conceited that they are, she's very sure they couldn't do what she's doing. They'd quit (or get fired, I might add). Hearing that, I was like, "Go Arah!" Sige nga, gawin nyo nga ginagawa namin at tingnan natin kung kaya nyo! :)
Come to think of it, the word "quality" is very subjective. (Semiotics!) Who has the authority to say that your standards of "quality" is better than mine anyway? Moreover, the sadder fact is that our idea of what is "quality" is taken from the Western perspective. I guess this is the main reason why most of us always compare Pinoy art forms to the Western kind and only if these Pinoy works adhere to the Western "formula" of what's "sublime" or "beautiful", that's only when they can be deemed of "high quality". It's sad.
I know I sound snotty and defensive so forgive me. Still, this is my blog. :)