Oct 05
LEGMAN by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Oct 5, 2007

By the word itself, one gets an impression that a Legman does the leg work or simply a messenger. Some even think that a Legman is some sort of a low-level Liaison Officer. “Bale kami po ang taga-contact sa mga artista para sa schedule ng shooting,” clarifies Bong Pavia of his work. Like Isidro Dalay, Bong is very proud of their role as Legman in movie projects.

The Legman is one of the personnel involved in the pre-production stage, especially in finalization meetings. “Kasali po kami sa mga pre-prod meeting para malaman namin ang mga detalye tulad ng location. Kami po kasi ang bahala sa mga tao para alam nila ang eksaktong oras at lugar ng shooting,” explains Sidro.

The critical part of their work is the veracity of the shooting schedules based on the last pre-production meeting. The problem comes in when an actor, particularly the star of the movie, begs off. But the biggest problem is when the star was given a wrong schedule. “Pag mali po kasi ang oras na naibigay namin, siyempre magagalit yung mga tao,” Bong Pavia emphasizes that big stars hate to come early and then wait in the set. And before the star could complain, the director is the first one to reprimand the Legman of the error.

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Legman both, Bong Pavia and Sidro Dalay as excited participants to the FAP Basic Computer workshop

From the Line Producer down to the Production Manager and Assistant Director, the bulk of work settles on the hands of the Legman, not to mention the blame. Sidro admits, “Pero may time na hindi maiiwasan ang bulilyaso sa schedule lalo na pag halimbawa biglang umulan o kaya nagkaproblema dun sa lugar.” Weather is the foremost headache of the director and next is the unruly crowd, factors that cause delay to the shooting. Fortunately, such mishaps and incidents are not blamed on the Legman.

In this age of high technology, the Legman has the advantage of using the cel phone. “Malaking bagay ang text kasi mas madaling matanong ang artista,” says Bong. “Nung dati eh mahirap ma-contact ang mga artista kasi puro landline lang. Tapos pag wala yung artista syempre kailangan naming puntahan para ideliver ang call slip.” The call slip is a small piece of paper where the shooting schedule is formally indicated. The actor is to sign the receipt of the notice and his signature is a manifestation of his full agreement to the said schedule. It seems that the call slip is very important to the Legman. To that statement, Sidro smiles and says, “Puwede po kasing gamitin ang call slip sa korte kung sakaling magkaroon ng malaking problema.”

A delay in the shooting caused by a miscommunication can be translated to hundreds of thousands of pesos down the drain when the shooting is on location, particularly when the production rents the place like a resort or a mansion. And this thing happens in reality.

Bong relates of an incident where a production firm sued a starlet who caused delays in shooting. “Natalo po sa demanda yung starlet.” But Bong declines to name the starlet and the production firm which lost a big slice of the production budget due to the starlet’s deliberate misdemeanor. He also did not mention how much damage the starlet was made to pay.

But contrary to expectations, the Legman still relies on the call slip even in this high-tech age. “Importante pa rin ang call slip kaya kahit may confirmation na sa cel phone ang artista ay pinupuntahan pa rin namin para makapirma sa call slip.” The old school is still the best rule for the Legman. Texts on the celphone can be denied but the signature on the call slip is a legal matter.

Another incident, related by Sidro, was that involving Ronnie Ricketts as a director. Although Sidro couldn’t forget the incident, it is ironic that he couldn’t remember the name of the movie actor. “Asawa po ni Nora Aunor o dating asawa po. Hindi si Christopher…” It turns out that the actor he was referring to was John Rendez. “Siya na nga po yun. Hindi siya dumating sa shooting. Eh si Ronnie Ricketts ang producer at director. Wala naman po akong kasalanan dahil pirmado naman (ni Rendez) ang call slip.”

The way things went, Ronnie sided with his Legman (Sidro) so he asked Sidro to pester Rendez with the promised schedule. When the actor’s mood had changed, he finally arrived on the set. Ronnie gave the erring actor a neat lesson by having him (Rendez) undergo the usual preparatory rites like makeup and costume fittings. From morning until lunch time and until the whole afternoon had come and gone, Rendez remained waiting for his turn to face the camera. Finally, nighttime came and the director had to shout, “Pack up” to mean that the day was over. Rendez was fuming mad. He was made to sit out the whole day just to wait for nothing.

Sidro would have had the last laugh regarding the incident but such was not so. “Eh syempre po asawa ni Nora Aunor yun kaya malakas sa dyaryo. Napa-dyaryo ako kasi ako ang sinisisi niya. Wrong call daw, mali raw ang schedule ko sa kanya eh hindi ko na lang sinabi na pinarusahan siya ni Ronnie Ricketts,” Sidro says with a smile.

Bong’s most recent project is Senakulista which stars Jeric Raval. “Sa Pampanga ang location namin, timing nung nakaraang Mahal Na Araw.” William Mayo directs and the movie is yet to be finished. “May six shooting days pa po. Sana nga matapos na para hindi kami nakabitin,” Bong smiles as a hint of getting his payslip. They normally get a bonus when their movie becomes a blockbuster.
For Sidro’s last project, “Medyo matagal na rin po. Alam nyo naman ang nangyayari sa movie industry, wala na talagang project ngayon. Yung last ko, ano pa, 2005 pa yata, yung… Nang Magising Si Adan.” Sidro feels sad for the movie industry. “Nauso ang lagare nung araw, yun bang..hindi naman sabay-sabay ang project pero kadalasan sunod-sunod. Naku, ang saya talaga sa showbiz nun.”

Bong had been in the movie industry since 1990 but Sidro had a longer time since he is brother to Felix Dalay, one of the respectable film directors. “Yung first project ko as Legman… Ronnie Ricketts yun, Mano-Mano ang pamagat. Kumita yun kasi sikat pa ang action movies nung panahon na yun.” Like Bong, Sidro had also handled different positions in movie projects like production assistant, “Yun ang tawag sa taga-timpla ng kape ng director.”

Movie industry people agree to the claim that the Legman’s function is very critical to the production of a movie. Says one director, “Nasa Legman ang lyabe kaya pag magaling ang Legman eh wala kang po-problemahin sa shoot.”

The Legman’s work is not a simple serving of notice to the cast. And not only to the cast because the Legman is also responsible for bringing everyone on the set. “Pati yung staff at saka crew, kami rin ang nag-iinform sa kanila ng shooting schedule. Dapat alam nila ang lugar saka oras.” Bong couldn’t imagine bungling his job. “Naku, nakakatakot yun,” he replies on the hypothetical question of what would happen if everyone came in the set but the cameraman was missing.

“Nakikipag-negotiate po kami sa artista,” Sidro says with pride. Negotiating the schedule with a big star is a mean task. Especially in the 1990s, movie stars have so many projects such that the Legman used to compete for attention. “Pag mahina ang production nyo, malabo kang makakuha agad ng oras ng artista. Ang nangyayari, yung mga small time na producers ay hindi na kumukuha ng sikat na artista kasi natatalo sa schedule.”

A movie project is like a business project with a timetable. And once the schedule is disrupted then the project suffers. There were so many incidents when a movie hinged on the hot issue like the Elsa Castillo: Chop-chop Lady story. When the interest of the public dies down, the movie (which was delayed) is not expected to earn anymore. That public interest thing may have been the factor why Chavit Singson’s bio film done by Carlo Caparas did not earn. Unknown to the production people, Chavit’s popularity had already waned.

One fringe benefit of a Legman is getting close to the top production people like the Director and the Line Producer. “Karamihan sa mga AD (assistant director) na yan, galing sa Legman yan,” declares Sidro. “Marami rin mga PM (production manager) tapos yung ibang director alam ko dumaan din sa Legman.”

A Legman, therefore, is the Human Resource Department of a movie project. The Legman is everyone’s contact point especially when it comes to schedules and the like. The Legman is the top negotiator for time and place. The Legman is the complaints department and the one who handles the excuse slips of absentees and latecomers. And if the going is not that tough, the Legman can also serve coffee to the bosses. Hmm, a decaf for me, please.

Comments to this article can be sent to ajsocorro@yahoo.com