Saving Sally star Rhian Ramos has seen her movie twice before it was shown as an official entry to the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
Those two times had been both an emotional experience for the Filipino-British actress, who’s also a prime GMA-7 contract artist. The first was during the press preview held on December 12 and the second at the premiere night that took place on December 22.
“Because I couldn’t believe that I was watching it with other people and hearing their voices react to the movie, and then today, I’m shocked at the response that it’s getting and how many people are shaking my hand, just saying how much they loved the film.” she told PEP at the premiere night.
She added with a smile: “I’m just so happy.”
When the 42nd edition of MMFF holds its awards night, billed as Gabi ng Parangal, on December 29, Rhian isn’t expecting to bag an acting award for her work on the movie that has been graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB).
“Personally, I don’t feel like I’m getting an award,” she admitted. “But that’s because there were so many factors in this movie that helped me to show feelings, emotions. I feel that our director [Avid Liongoren], our production design, our animation, our music, all of these things were acting for me, and I didn’t have to do much.”
Rhian’s other good friend, Solenn Heussaff, turned up at the premiere night with fellow actress Carla Humphries. Also present at the premiere was Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chair Toto Villareal.
Saving Sally is about a high school girl named Sally and her guy best friend Marty (played by Enzo Marcos), who has a secret crush on her. The two besties’ story of youthful action and adventure, familial joys and perils, and romantic highs and lows is told through a mixture of animation and live action that took director Avid Liongoren and his team a decade to finish.
Rhian joined the cast six years ago, when she was 19 and enjoying the last year of her teenager life.
“I really feel connected to Sally in the movie,” she said, and went on explaining what she likes about her character.
“I really liked that she stayed unique and parang when there were other things like everyone was into blockbuster action movies, ’yong parang pagti-tripan niya pa,” she pointed out.
“She was never ashamed of being different. It was okay with her, and she’s proud of it.”
Laughing, she talked about Sally’s weirdness:
“I mean, she’s kind of weird, pero I feel like everyone’s weird, everyone’s unique, everyone’s different, and parang walang dalawang tao na talagang the same as much as they try to be.
“Kasi people try to copy each other all the time to be accepted. But I feel like deep inside, everyone has Sally in them na there are things about themselves that they won’t change.
“And even if they think they’re weird, to an certain extent, I can really identify with Sally in that way. We also have the same sense of humor, she seems to be really getting along with the guys, which is something parang I grew up.”
During the premiere night held at SM Ortigas, Rhian and her co-stars Enzo Marcos and TJ Trinidad hit the red carpet to the cheers of their fans. The trio also talked to the press about the challenges in acting in a live –action movie with 2D animation.
“Maraming imagination involved,” recalled Rhian. “Pag tinignan mo ’yong set, mahuhugot ka sa set pa lang.”
TJ interjected to expound on Rhian’s response: “Walang props ’yon. Talagang imagination ang kailangan.”
Nodding, Rhian explained: “Kailangan mong isipin, ‘Ano ba talaga ’yong itsura ng lugar? Ano ’yong mangyayari? Ano ’yong mga bagay na gumagalaw? May dumadaan ba na imaginary bus?’ Or something.”
Enzo gave an example: “Like, ‘May humahabol ba sa akin?’”
“Oo, humahabol sa akin,” she nodded. “Ano ba ang itsura niya?”
The Saving Sally co-stars also spoke about participating in the annual film fest, which, this year, has proved to be a showcase for independently produced movies.
“Nakakatakot!” TJ admitted with a chuckle.
Rhian asked him: “Bakit gano’n ka-scary?
TJ reconsidered his reply: “Sana hindi gano’n. Sana tanggapin ng lahat ng tao.”
“Oo,” she concurred, “itong film fest na ’to is an interesting one na ang dami-daming mga options. Parang may horror, may comedy, may love story, may drama, pati documentary. There are so many options para sa mga viewers.”
Needless to say, Rhian, TJ, and Enzo are proud to be part of this year’s MMFF.
“This is a little bit of a challenge for us but it is also very memorable,” she said. “Pinagmamalaki namin to be part of MMFF 2016. It’s very exciting lalo na hindi namin maintindihan ang timing ng movie namin. Natapos namin ang movie this year at nakapasok sa MMFF.
“But I trust the timing, kahit hindi namin maintindihan or na-foresee. It just feels the right time. It feels right.”
Rhian is just as thankful to her fans and her home network.
“Nakakatuwa kasi this is a project that I did from six years ago, and sinusuportahan pa rin ng mga fans ko even the new ones,” she beamed.
“At alam ko na ’yong GMA kahit hindi sila ang nag-produce, sinusuportahan nila ’yong project para sa ’kin, and I feel so touched na meron akong home network na gano’n, na puwede akong suportahan sa Metro Manila Film Fest, di ba?
“So I feel very proud to be a Kapuso inside the Metro Manila Film Fest. Kasi nga they allowed me to promote around the station kahit hindi sila ’yong producer. Alam mong they did it because we’re a family. Hindi dahil sa business, but because they’re supporting my film. Because it’s the nice to do and they’re nice people.”
She’s likewise grateful to Glaiza de Castro, her co-star in the 2015 lesbian-themed soap opera, The Rich Man’s Daughter.
Since they played lovers in that series, Rhian and Glaiza somehow because a love team their fans called RaStro, which is a portmanteau formed from the first syllable of Rhian’s last name Ramos and the third syllable of Glaiza’s surname de Castro.
However, Glaiza was unable to make it to the premiere night.
“I didn’t get to invite a lot of people,” Rhian reasoned.“Pero she was so kind to tweet about our movie kasi sinusuportahan niya ’yong movie, ’tsaka kilala din niya ang director namin. Naniniwala siya sa ganitong project na you do everything for something you believe in.”