An epic movie is coming up after Holy Week.
With the traditional meager budget of an indie vis-à-vis the high cost of blasting, costumes and props for a war movie, The Forgotten War can be considered a feat to produce, not to mention the large cast led by Baron Geisler and Yul Servo.
“The movie is in four segments kaya bale apat ang stories set in different locations. Iba-iba ang cast. Pero lahat yun Korean war pa rin ang backdrop,” says Ianne Oandasan, the line producer and associate director who, at times, also acts in different capacities. (see related article about Ianne Oandasan in Digitally Yours, click this link to read http://filmacademyphil.org/?p=1066)
Ianne Oandasan, emphasizing a point
The Forgotten War is a project of Smoke and Mirrors Entertainment which is slated to be exhibited in Korea during the month-long celebration of Korean-Philippines relation in April this year. The historically-themed project is the brainchild of Carlo Cruz, the youthful director, who happens to be the son of Luis Cruz, the current Philippine ambassador to South Korea. Incidentally, Carlo’s mother, Minda, is the Philippines’ ambassador to Singapore.
Although Carlo had studied filmmaking in Australia for four years, the war epic was his first full length. So maybe that’s the reason why the good ambassador approached his high school classmate for professional consultation on the viability of the ambitious project. Maryo J. Delos Reyes, the multi-awarded classmate, didn’t blink an eye in assigning Ianne to help out because Ianne knows the ins and outs of movie production, particularly the indie way.
“Sa totoo lang talaga, minsan pati camera ako ang humahawak,” explains Ianne on the scope of work of the production team. Unlike in the traditional mainstream, the indie production team is lean but mean. “Pag kulang ng extra eh di kami-kami na rin para makatipid. Kaya minsan kailangan sa crew marunong din ng acting kahit paano.”
The project rolled out with an invitation for a casting call. The whole day audition was successfully held in Mowelfund. And after getting Danny Red to handle the intricate production design, shooting immediately started.
From the script of Elmer Gatchalian, the production went smoothly with the help of yuppies like Anne Mayor as the Production Manager and G.A. Villafuerte handling the talent coordination. Aside from Yul and Baron, others in the cast are mostly young like Mikey Lee.
“Yung mismong giyera, pinaka-logical na location sa kampo kaya lumapit kami sa AFP,” Ianne relates. After conducting a thorough ocular check, everyone agreed to shoot inside Camp Capinpin in nearby Tanay, Rizal. But little did she know that permits for shooting in a military camp takes as long as 6 months to be approved. With the burden seemingly resting on her shoulder, Ianne wended through the military bureaucracy, sometimes using her connections and sometimes using her feminine charm.
Ianne and the youthful director Carlo Cruz
“Two weeks lang talaga ang waiting time ng production kasi naka-lock na ang mga artista sa movie namin. Hindi puwedeng six months, no way,” declares Ianne with conviction. And when time came for her to face the armed forces generals, “Tinawag ko yung make-up artist. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘make-apan mo ko, yung maganda,’ tapos diretso ako sa general.” Jubilant with the payback of her ploy, Ianne was proud to say that the general was able to facilitate the shooting permit and it was approved with just a one day delay from the original schedule.
When the shooting had already started, an incident occurred where a police outpost in Tanay was attacked by the rebels. And since the camp was put on red alert, another round of “pakiusapan” was in order. Fortunately, the generals in the camp were sympathetic to the cause of the movie. “Aba, dapat lang dahil para sa archive ng AFP itong movie,” says Ianne with a mischievous smile. “Hindi naman kami kikita dyan dahil sino bang manonood nyang giyera na yan? Hello?”
While recreating a scene where a Korean village was being razed by fire, some generals watching the shoot got worried. “Eh kasi lumalaki yung apoy sa bundok. Sabi ko controlled naman ang apoy. Meron kaming mga tao sa bundok na ready with the fire extinguishers.” Ianne laughs before continuing. “Kaya lang napansin ko lumalaki na nga talaga yung apoy kaya text agad ako sa mga tao namin dun. Sabi ko ano ba yan?” Ianne panicked upon learning that the fire was indeed already out of control. But with the help of the other crew members, it was fire out in ten minutes.
The costly production of The Forgotten War had exhausted the allocated budget and just to finish the project, Ianne made additional sacrifices. “Lahat ng savings ko napalaban na. Eh kulang pa kaya nangutang pa ko sa ermat ko.” The more than a million “abono” is actually a loan by Ianne to the Smoke and Mirrors and she expects to get back her money once the targetted organizations release the sponsorship funds.
Ianne and Carlo with some of the production team during the cast party held at Club Dredd in Eastwood, Libis, Q.C.
Despite the many problems encountered, Ianne and Carlo wrapped up the production in only 9 days. “Parang milagro talaga,” Ianne heaves a sigh of relief. The production seemed impossible at first because she and Carlo were having some differences in directing. “Sanay kasi ako sa mga shortcuts like yung dalawang camera o minsan tatlo pa. Eh si Carlo parang nababagalan ako.” There was tension in the set because of the top guns’ continual disagreements. But the spats were just spats and nothing more.
In fairness to the young director, he has his own style and his theoretical approach was due to his intensive classroom learning. “There’s a big difference in the actual work as against the classroom lessons,” opines a movie industry veteran. And Ianne was greatly consoled by the fact that Carlo was really willing to learn such that he relents whenever he runs out of reasons.
Currently in the post-production stage, “Kami na rin ni Carlo ang nage-edit,” stresses Ianne as if to say that she and Carlo now have a good collaborative relation. Not really expecting any rewards for their epic movie, Ianne and Carlo are both optimistic that theirs is a work of art that will have a lasting effect particularly on patriotic Filipinos and Koreans.
The historical Forgotten War will certainly be not forgotten and will go down in history as one of the bests.
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