A Letter to Fans from Another Fan

You are a fan and you don’t own your idols.

I am not addressing this to the entirety of the population of fans out there, but just to those who seem to be confused about what being a true fan really means.

The Cambridge Dictionary says a fan is someone who admires and supports a person, sport, sports team, etc. The Oxford Dictionaries defines it as a person who has a strong interest in or admiration for a particular person or thing. None of these definitions says a fan can dictate what his or her idol should do and who that idol should be.

You don’t have the right to because you don’t own them; like how you don’t own Taylor Swift, the favourite love-and-hate talk of the town. If you’re a real fan, you’re not one of those people telling her to stop dating men she likes, stop writing what she feels and what she thinks and just stay being America’s sweetheart when clearly she’s done being your good little girl. Recently, Swift released her long-anticipated and most biting album yet, Reputation, and along with it is a note to the fans talking about how it has been being in the public eye and mentioning how ‘her mistakes have been used against her, her heartbreaks have been used as entertainment, and her songwriting has been trivialised as oversharing.’ She has been in our lives since she was 15 that some of us may feel like we own part of hers. But then again, we don’t. No one can control any other people’s lives but themselves; like how Finn Wolfhard has the control over his life on his own and his alone. The 14-year-old Stranger Things actor was recently called out by fans for not greeting them outside his hotel. As Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner puts it, it does not matter if he’s an actor, he’s a kid first before that and he should be able to ‘grow without feeling like he owes anyone anything for living his childhood dreams.’

Every one of us, whether you are an actor or not, feel like we need space at some point and we should all be understanding enough if that’s what the person wants. We all have our own selfishness and actors are not an exemption to that. They would want to be away from the screaming and flashing cameras from time to time and no one should ever criticize them for wanting that just because they are public figures. Yes, fans put them to where they are right now and are the reason why they are able to do what they want and earn money at the same time. We as fans buy their albums, concert tickets, stream their shows online and or pay for other merchandises that they put out. However, we should be reminded that it is their art/work, which they have invested in so much, that we are buying and not them nor their lives. We should not act like we can demand to interfere in their personal lives, and if not allowed, we criticize them until they are emotionally drained and are in ruins. If you want some of their time, then go to their fan meetings, shows, and or other official guestings instead of waiting in front of their hotels to invade their privacy. If you are arguing that you don’t have money to buy tickets to shows, matches or what, then that’s your problem. That’s reality and you should work hard to earn some money and see them in their official public appearances if you really want to.

It is time for fans to stop caring too much about the personal lives of their idols. I understand that it is unavoidable for their personal lives to be before the public eye but fans should start it in themselves to realize it should be something we can muse about but not interfere with. We do not know them personally and so we should not bash them for things we may be ill-informed about. Sometimes, I even think it is much better for fans to just care about nothing more than their idols’ work or art. It will be better not only for your idol’s peace of mind but for yours as well. Think before you say or do something that could eventually affect these public figures and most especially do not start a fight and hurt other fans. Before being celebrities and fans, we all are humans first, and as humans, we should always try not to hurt one another.

We should shatter the idea that these are the consequences of being famous and that it comes with their jobs because it isn’t and it shouldn’t. This issue has been around for a long time already and this is definitely not the fault of the advent of the internet, but this problem has obviously been magnified by the social media age. This is bullying and you are not a bully, you are a fan, and that should be enough reason for you to use the power of the internet in reverse to call for a change.

In my own definition, being a fan means supporting your idol in their public endeavours. The key word is support and not bring them down. The word public draws the line between your relationship with your idols. If you want to be beyond that line, then go earn yourself a spot as their friend or what. But if not, then again for those people in the back I will repeat, these public figures’ private lives are something you can muse and be happy or sad about as a fan, but it should never be something you can interfere with. If you still cannot understand this boundary, then maybe you should reassess yourself as a fan and or eventually stop calling yourself as one, if you aren’t really one in the first place.

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Chapter Two: Ready, Set, Cut

35mm movie reel and scissors for the final cut

Sometime early August 2017, I decided to shell out money for something I knew I wanted but I was scared of. I don’t know how that mix of feelings exists or why it does. But I just did it. I faced this because at a certain point I know I will regret not doing so, and regret is something I hate more than fear.

This made me basically stop buying fries, burgers, pizzas, shakes and other comfort food just to cut on my spending and make up for the money I spent paying the registration fee for the first Rebelde Non-linear Editing Class. Because you see, I’m an adult who doesn’t want to ask money from my parents and who insists on relying solely on my humble entry-level job pay. But hey guess what, I don’t care about it. All I can think about that time was my love for film. Film was taking over my life and I don’t care whatever it takes just to get to know it better. I was in love.

That sounds foolish, right? Just like any other love, it’s hard. But it’s beautiful.

I’ve been making short films since college and the part of it that I like so much but didn’t have the courage to take on yet was film editing. I love everything about it; the way it looks like a puzzle, the quiet environment while you work on it, the way music complements it and many more aspects of it. Sometimes I even think I love it more than writing because the fulfilment of seeing its end product is different from just reading a finished script.

I do direct, write, shoot, but when it comes to editing, I always pass it on to others because I always thought I’m not good at it. But I figured out that learning film editing is something that will complete me as a filmmaker. So why not step up my game now?

It was a month-long getting to know stage with film editing and with the people who love it as much as I do. There was Angela, Carlo, Rolls, Alyanna, the Rebelde peeps and most especially Direc Thop Nazareno, who was our instructor for the class. Thop has been an editor and director for indie films such as the 2013 Cinemalaya short film Eyeball and the 2017 Cinemalaya full-length feature Kiko Boksingero.

I think it was especially easy and comfortable for me to learn film editing because it was Thop who taught me. He was this small dude sitting quietly at the end of the table when I first entered the lecture room and it was difficult to read him. We were sitting far from him and the first thing he told us was to come closer because he said he was this ‘shy person,’ and just with that, I identified with him already which then continued on throughout the course. I especially saw a great deal of his love for filmmaking which was totally cool. He knows the struggles of an aspiring filmmaker and it felt like he really understands someone like me and so it was especially interesting to learn from someone like him.

I hope he knows he’s a great teacher. I wish someone told him.

Because I didn’t, so….yeah

But nevertheless, everything he imparted to us will stay with me.

The first thing he taught us was that every cut should have a meaning behind it. The Kuleshov effect shows the movie magic in which partnering a shot with different other shots can create many different meanings. I firmly believe that films should be created not just for the sake of creating one and making money. Every part of it should tell a story and should give out a message one way or the other.

He also said that time and tempo are important. You should know when to go fast, normal, and or when to take it slow. You can’t always be too fast. Give the story time to breathe. You can take it slow but be sure you know when to peak. But whatever it is, let the story and feeling guide your pace.

He stressed out that an editor should cut and put pieces together based on logic. Even if you don’t have the script as a guide, or maybe you don’t know the whole story yet or the director hasn’t given any directions, you as an editor should tell the story in your own way first, in the way you perceive it. You may not know, the director may like your take on it. If he doesn’t, then that’s when you change it the way he wants. Anyway, directors always have the last say. But at least you tried to have your own input. You have a vision of your own. Remember, you are an editor, not a clicker or a robot who just follows everything the director says without contributing any creative ideas.

The last part of Thop’s editing lecture was about continuity. An edit should be fluid. Every cut should connect well with the next one. It is advisable to cut on action to avoid awkward or very eye-stealing cuts or transitions. But really, there are many ways to connect one shot or scene from another and some of them are like magic to me.

I really believe that film editing is like magic. It gives life to the story. It can make you see impossible things happen. It can show you wonders you’ve never imagined.

I’m glad to have learned how to make this magic and I want to be a master of it.

Thop made me want to be a master of it and stop hesitating doing things I want to do. I have always waited for things to happen to me because I always thought I’m still not ready. But I remember him telling me I will never be ready and so all there’s left to do is to keep going no matter what. Just shoot. Just make more films. Just do it. That’s the best thing I learned from him and from this wonderful class.

Chapter One: Ready, Set, Write

writing-dream-meaning

Sunday afternoon in the company of sunshine in my room, I sit there listening to different kinds of music from old to new, from classical to rock. I’ve got my pen and notebook on my lap. I let the music get into me, into my mind, heart and soul. Then I create a short story based on what I feel right then and there. This simple writing activity has been a routine for me since joining Sir Clodualdo Del Mundo’s script development and writing workshop organized by the Film Development Council in an attempt to nurture the talent of current and aspiring screenwriters.

Sir Doy, as what we call him, is a well-known Filipino screenwriter, director, and author. Some of his famous screenplays are the classics such as Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Itim, Kisapmata, and Batch ‘81.

We were required to send a resume for pre-selection of the participants and I swear to God I didn’t actually expect to be chosen. Up to 20 participants was the limit and I told myself there are a lot of good writers out there who already have more advanced experience than me, I’d probably be lucky enough if I even get in the top 50. I heard nothing from FDCP for ten days after I signed up but I kept waiting with a bit of desperate prayers. You just don’t give up your dream that easy. You just don’t.

And then there it was, 10 days before the workshop, I got that congratulatory email saying “You’ve been selected blah blah blah!” Imagine me jumping up and down on my bed!

Now fast forward to August 18, the first day of the two-day workshop, I pretty much entered Cinematheque Manila thinking if I should really be there. You know that self-doubt moments just before important events, well, that happens to me. A lot. Sure thing. But one thing I never do is back out when I’m already there.

Who will be my classmates? Will they be super good? Will I look pathetic? Will I be able to impress them? Is Sir Doy a good teacher? Is he too strict and hard to deal with?

These were the questions filling my mind while biting my lip and patiently waiting for the class to start because apparently, I was too early. Those were nonsense questions that I shouldn’t have bothered myself with because thank God, I realized they were actually nothing to worry about.

Listening to Sir Doy was like listening to my grandpa on the balcony telling old stories. I felt very comfortable learning from him. The first thing he taught us was to write stories that bring out humanity. Stories that affect people, move people, and make them counter things like the prevalent violence and killings everywhere in the world right now. He also pointed out that films should create and not destroy.

Right at that moment I missed being a student. Terribly. Everything felt the same. It’s just that my classmates were not of my age. There were different types of people in that class. A screenwriting professor, a news writer, a founder of a film camp, a television show writer, a simple girl who just writes stories in her bedroom, and many more who have the same writing passion as me. This was actually my first professional writing workshop and it felt surreal being in the same room with people who could understand that writing weirdness others may not.

I’ve always believed that if you have real passion, you don’t need much for other people to like you. That’s why I was already in awe of those people around me despite just meeting them for the first time. I was in awe to learn that screenwriting really has no definite format, you just need to make it easy for the people involved in the film to understand how the story should go, how it should look like and how it should feel like. I was in awe to learn the limitations of a writer; that sometimes you do not have to give too much detail; just let the cast and crew have the creative freedom to interpret the screenplay on their own. I was in awe to realize that you will write and put your heart and soul into every story but not all of them will be turned into film.

That’s okay.

That’s reality.

What’s important is that you are creating something you love and you never know, maybe the right time for it is just yet to come. Stories never grow old anyway.

On our second day, August 25, we read and discussed the short screenplays we developed during the workshop. There were different kinds of stories. There was drama. Comedy. Action. Experimental. Some were deep. Some were just above the surface. Mine was in between. It was the first time I allowed my screenplay to be projected on a white screen for people to read at the same time. I felt kind of naked for a while, but proud afterwards. It was nice to see people talk about your story, your characters, your made-up world and you. I thought it would hurt. But it did not. So you, who’s still afraid to let people see your masterpiece, stop keeping your greatness to yourself and go take the pleasure of learning from the praises and criticisms of your readers. Because why not.

It also helps to think you are great. It makes you open yourself to possibilities. And when your idea of greatness gets shattered afterwards, which has a hundred percent probability by the way, get back up. Find another view of greatness, or maybe, make people see another view of greatness. Writing takes a lot of twist and turns, but it’s very rewarding when you get there.

I’m still on the road and is not yet at my destination. As I get drained, an experience like this is a station stop to get me filled up again. What a nice fuel fill indeed.

Thank you FDCP for initiatives like this that nurture aspiring filmmakers like us. Lastly, thank you Sir Doy for your films, passion and experiences. Thank you for your writing. Thank you for sharing it. I hope to do it as well in time. Again. Thank you.

12 Practical Tips For TV Commercial Production Assistants

movie-film-video-production-ss-1920Hi reader! So you’re an aspiring film maker like me? And you are looking all over the web to know how to start off in this industry. Anywhere you go, it seems that everyone tells you that the best suggestion for this is always to get a job as a production assistant. It’s the famous starting point!

Well as you may and may not know, production assistants are not exclusive to film productions. These all around workers exist in film, television, commercial or any video production. Once you get a PA job in any of these video productions, it would not be that difficult to jump to any of the other types of production. There will be just some differences in the way you do things in each type but the skills you need are always the same.

In this article however, I shall discuss to you some really important tips that people may not tell you when you are a production assistant in a manner more specific to the process of TV or DIGITAL COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION. So here we go:

  1. Your phone is the most important thing in your life now

Always keep it around and always never go out of load! You would not want to experience an urgent matter at midnight where you have to contact people and not be able to find your phone or discover you do not have any load. Well lucky for you if you’re on a post-paid plan. If so, make sure to keep it that way. As a production assistant you’ll be responsible on relaying messages to almost everyone involved in the shoot; members of the production team, bosses, producers, admin staff, suppliers, caterers or any food establishment, and even service drivers! Be extra patient with service drivers, contacting them can really be a headache at times! Going to war without a gun is deadly, so take extra note of this!

  1. Taking down notes should be your hobby

Unless you’re a genius who remembers every single detail or information you receive then go ahead and don’t mind this tip but if you’re not, this is a must! Clients, the ad agency people and the producer all have different ideas and most of them quickly change their minds so if you won’t be able to take note of every changes then your preparations would be in ruins.

  1. It’s time to be a food lover

This may sound exciting because, well, to be honest there’s an abundance of food in this line of work. However, you’ll be the one to order and prepare everything. You should know the perfect food establishments or food providers where you can order for all kinds of meetings, for the shoot, for offline or online presentations and such. Know what your client and other bosses want to eat. Know the menu, services and prices of the food provider. Believe me, in this industry, if you serve good food, everyone will like you!

  1. Keep a document bag around

Don’t think you won’t deal with papers with this kind of job. Storyboards, pre-production agreements, call slip, attendance sheet, service request forms, requisition slips, liquidation sheets, and cash vouchers are just few of the papers you’d have to deal with. Dude, you’ve been warned!

  1. Liquidation sheet is the key to your pay slip

Unless you’re finish liquidating all your expenses, your full pay slip will be crawling its way to you so always make it a point to finish liquidating as early as you can. As I talk about expenses here, you should also budget the money of the project wisely. Remember, it’s not your money, so return whatever is left and better be extra careful and honest in the way you handle it.

  1. Save every contact

Every person you meet in this industry could help you with your future endeavors so always make it a point to save their contact numbers, emails or office addresses. Expanding your contacts will give you more options in choosing the people that could be best to work with in the future.

  1. Be a coffee-lover

Or if you can’t, take some Berocca during sleepless days. It’s like a vitamin tablet and you can get it in drugstores nearby. Trust me, coffee and Berocca could save you or if not, just steal some nap for goodness sake!

  1. Camera, Lights, Action!

Before the director could say that, of course you’d need cameras and lights, therefore, you need to book for those because it’s part of your job. Know the camera types and specs that you would need for the shoot. Be familiar with Arri Alexa cameras, Phantom, Weiss, Blackmagic, Red and the others. For lights, start getting to know Arrisun, CMC, Kino Lights, Xenon 1K-7K and such. Knowing these things will help you book/rent the right equipment and if the best option is not available, then you would always know some good alternatives as well. Anyway, DOPs and directors would also have their preferred equipment.

  1. Tick tock tick tock, mind the time!

Getting the job done on schedule is one of the best work attitude you could have. This is an extremely fast paced job so you would not want to be left behind. Be time conscious all the time, people are depending on it!

  1. Be a talk show host if you must

You don’t need to take this tip seriously if you’re not the type to but dude I’m telling you, being a good conversant will open doors for you. Of course, don’t do this during serious work hours. Find the right time to talk to people. It may be a client, an ad agency member, your producer or even the service drivers or caterers! Learn from people through this and also try to impart something to them. This will help you work easily with them and will be like building good relationships that could help your future in this career.

  1. Think ahead

You should always be ahead of everyone. Think whatever it is that you will need before people ask for it. During shoots, you should already be setting up the next scene even before everyone finishes shooting the current one. This will save a lot of time I swear.

  1. Take a dose of patience

Why buy water or make coffee for anyone? Why should I be opening doors for people? Why do I have to clean stuffs? These questions would often times cross your mind and will eventually make you pity yourself. Let’s be honest here, you will really experience these things as a PA but if this is really the career you want to pursue, be patient my friend, someday it will all just be funny memories!

Do you also have any experience as a PA? I want to hear it. Let me know by commenting there below! Thank you!

Alone in the House and a Few Pre-Graduation Thoughts

My friends only like to talk about two things right now:

  1. The past
  2. And the future

Do you remember that time during the first days of college when you have a different set of friends but then some backstabbing and I-don’t-like-what-they’re-doing moments happened and you jumped to another clique? Or that time when your team has beaten all teams in this class and they all envied you and your friends? We like talking about proud moments like that, don’t we? Then we start liking and commenting on old and usually embarrassing photos of our friends so that it’ll show up on other people’s feed and suddenly everyone turns it into a bandwagon!

You see, I have more time now to scroll down on my Twitter or Facebook home and everyone is in a nostalgic state about the past. We all love that “good sad” feeling, don’t we? Yeah it’s great. No matter if it’s a good or bad memory, we like looking back at it because of this relief and somehow proud feeling that we all went through it now. We’ve done it! Like how you’ve survived thesis with all that small and petty arguments or even that unexpected nod from the panelists. What’s important is it’s done!

As your thought finishes at that word, “done,” you now shift to the things “to be done” next. The things to do in the future! You start thinking and planning about looking for a job or applying for SSS, PhilHealth and other requirements of being an “adult.” Yes, they say you’re an adult the moment you get your diploma. You’re supposed to take care of yourself and plan for your future now. Then you look at the more exciting part where you can do things on your own like maybe traveling. You start enumerating the places you’d go to like, “Before 30, I should have gone to Korea, Japan, Macau, Australia or France.” Or maybe start pursuing that passion of yours that you’ve set aside because mama told you to finish a “good” course in college first. But hey guess what? JUST SLOW DOWN. If there’s anything I’d like to talk or think about right now, is exactly what’s in front of me, the “present” I’ve got right now.

I did not expect to have a perspective like this just as graduation looms. I always thought that I’d be all about who I was and who I will be. Academic stuff are all officially done now and I’m just literally waiting for the graduation day. Some of my classmates are fretting about getting a job they like and I did so too for two or three positions but it all asked me to officially graduate first before they even decide if they’ll get me. So I’ve decided I’ll take advantage of this time when I could just have fun and catch up to some TV shows. I guess there’s no rush. These days are like my reward for four years of stress and hard work and a re-charging moment before I go on to a gazillion years of again—-stress and hard work. It’s a moment for me to give attention to what I have right now and not for getting nostalgic about what I used to have and or worry about what I will have.

I’m actually having a great time. One thing about doing nothing and worrying about nothing is that it makes you more observant and appreciative of even the tiniest things around you which used to be drowned by the “bigger things.” Before, I did not understand what it’s really like to stay at home all day and wait until your family gets home at night but now as I experience it, the sound of the gate clicking as someone comes home becomes a pure pleasure to me. Then there’s their pure joy when they smell cooking after a tiring day.

I’ve also become so concerned about the daily maintenance of the house. As I stare at it all day, I appreciate how it became my protection and sanctuary for many years and I’ve decided it also deserves a reward. I now tend to it like never before. I gave our room a new look and it feels so refreshing like it’s ready for my new life. I also water the plants on the surrounding and talk to them often these days. I swear they look so happy like as if they missed seeing me water them. I’ve been so caught up with enjoying the bigger world out there that I did not even notice that there’s a new tree just along the pathway towards the entrance of our house. I personally picked its fruits and thanked it silently.

I’ve been assessing relationships lately as well. I realized you’ll know if a person will stay in your life even after graduation if you’re able to talk to them even if there’s no school involved anymore. I’ve decided who among them are around just because they were required to do things with me and of course those who’ll make an effort to do something…just anything…maybe they’ll message you and invite you to something…you know…. because they really plan to stick around for a really long time. Those are two different kinds of people. I know that now.

As I deal with these little things I discovered a lot about myself. I never realized how I love little things now that I have more time for them like the music playing from our neighbor or that good view of the village from our rooftop. Now I realize that I like the idea of giving importance to the little things in the stories that I write as well. Some of the other things I discovered about myself these past few days are:

  • I love the idea of creating stories for children and watching films for children triggered that.
  • I prefer classic books than young adult novels. Thank God I read The Great Gatsby a few days ago.
  • I’m single because I love Leonardo DiCaprio so much. No explanation needed.
  • I love songs about finding one self, therefore, I conclude that I’m still lost. I’m creating a playlist for that right now.

I have a lot more discoveries about myself that I’d rather not share anymore; too personal as I may say. You see, my point here is before you could move on from the past and prepare for the future, you should take advantage of the in between stage, the breathing stage, where you could find yourself again. Sufficient knowledge and understanding of one’s self could be your best tool in facing the world around you.

This is an important phase in your life and it is ending now, as you go on to the next phase, re-discover the essence of your spark. Do it in every major changes in your life. Never forget to re-discover the essence of your spark.