Pinasok na rin ng film producer na si Atty. Joji Alonso ang pagdi-direk ng pelikula. Ang first directorial job niya ang Belle Douleur (Beautiful Pain) na pinagbibidahan nina Mylene Dizon at Kit Thompson.
Ito ay isa sa full-length film entries sa 2019 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
Nakapag-produce na ng 32 movies si Atty. Joji under Quantum Films, kabilang dito ang two-time Fipresci awardee and NETPAC awardee Kubrador (2006) at Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (2011) na naging Philippine entry sa Oscars.
Siya rin ang may-ari ng Quantum Post, a post-production house that has been catering to both independent filmmakers and studios since 2013.
“Third grade pa lang ako gusto ko nang maging direktor, e,” umpisa ni Atty. Joji noong makausap siya ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sa grand launch ng 15th Cinemalaya Film Fest na ginanap sa Cultural Center of the Philippines kamakailan.
“I observe. Every time I go to the set, I observe. Binabantayan ko kung anong lente ang ginamit. And I chose, of course, a really good thing. Kailangan magaling. Like Michael ‘Mycko’ David is my DOP [Director of Photography].
“E, magaling si Mycko. Bawat shot niya is like a painting. Yun kasi ang request ko, e. Kailangan, because the story must be picturesque, e, in its visual.”
Personal choice ba niya si Mylene for her first directorial film?
“Mylene was my only choice,” diin niya.
“There was no other choice. Kasi, I saw Elizabeth [the 45-year-old single clinical psychologist lead character in Belle Douleur] in her. When I was conceptualizing the material, siya na yung nasa isip ko.
“Number one, she’s a very good actress. Ang galing-galing niyang artista. As in, wala akong masabi. Hindi ako mahihirapan as a director kung magaling ang artista, di ba?
“Plus, she exuded everything that Elizabeth was in the story.”
Paano napasok si Kit sa movie?
“Si Kit ang medyo mahirap.... yung choice for the role of Josh, yung actor for the role of Josh was the more difficult one to pass. Kasi kailangan ko ng bata. Kailangan way younger, half the age of Mylene.
“In fact, when we shot the film, Kit was 21 and Mylene was 44. So, less than half, ‘no. So, kailangan bata, may hitsura.
“Why would a 45-year-old single woman—who resolved to remain single for the rest of her life—fall for this guy kung walang hitsura, di ba?
“Siyempre kailangan yummy naman, di ba?
“Plus, kailangan marunong umarte. Yung he can stand on his own with Mylene. Eto, sa akin lang ‘to, ha. I needed someone tall visually. Sadya yun kasi bata siya pero malaki siyang tao. So, naka-ganoon siya sa mas nakakatanda na lover niya.”
Ano ang nakita niya kay Kit at siya ang napili niya to play the role of Josh?
“Uhm, well, I saw #Y. I like what he did there," ani Atty. Joji tungkol sa Cinemalaya 2014 entry na #Y (more popularly known as Hashtag Y).
“Uhm, tapos I understand he did a short film with some Filipino filmmakers in L.A. Kinumusta ko how he was and they said he’s very good.
“Tapos nag-usap kami sa phone when he was in LA. Sabi ko, ‘This is my story. This is my vision,’ blah-blah-blah.
“Sabi ko, ‘Are you willing to sit down with me and then, we’ll do several workshops and all para ma-ano ko talaga, ma-porma ko talaga siya as the Josh that I wanted.’
“And he was very cooperative. He’s very willing to do everything that I would request from him. Kung ano ang ikagaganda ng pelikula.”
Nasa Amerika pa si Kit nung kausapin siya ni Atty. Joji at doon na-convince niya ang Kapamilya star na bumalik ng Pilipinas.
Paano niya nahanap si Kit na nasa U.S.?
"Kay Erickson, Erickson Raymundo.
“Nag-usap kami. Tinanong ko siya kung nasaan na si Kit. Kung interesado ba siya.
“Wala pa yung The Hows of Us [Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo’s film].
“Wala pa lahat ‘yan. Nauna ako sa lahat. Ako ang nauna. Hahaha!"
Chemistry is very important sa isang May-December affair movie. How did the lawyer-turned-director develop that with Mylene and Kit?
“Ah, we had only one sensuality workshop, e, and I saw the fire in the two. Sabi ko, ‘Sh*t. Eto na.’ Hahaha!
“Oo, may fire. Hahaha!
“Sobrang ano physical ano nila, e, bagay na bagay sila. And when you watch the film, you’d wish that they would end up together.”
From a rating of one to five, with five as the highest, how sexy is this film?
“Five,” mabilis na sagot ni Atty. Joji.
“O, sige na nga, ten. Hahaha!
“Hindi kasi ano, there’s, I have three love scenes in the film and each love scene has a story to tell.
“Hindi siya ginawa ko lang dahil gusto kong magpahubad ng tao, no.
“In fact, sabi ko, ‘Kit, mag-cover tayo, ganito, ganyan. Maglagay tayo ng cover-cover.’
“Sabi niya, ‘Direk, okay lang ako na wala.’
“Sabi ko, ‘Huwag mong gawin ‘yan.’ Hahaha!
“Hindi dahil ninerbiyos ako. Hindi 'yun. Sabi ko, ‘Malayo pa ang mararating mo, bata. Huwag mong ipakita lahat.’
“Ako pa ang nagsabi nun, which is true.”
Ang isa pang entry sa Cinemalaya 2019 na may konsepto rin ng May-December affair ay ang Malamaya nina Sunshine Cruz at Enzo Pineda.
Tulad ni Atty. Joji, mga babae rin ang direktor ng Malamaya: sina Danica Sta. Lucia at Leilani Chavez.
Sa palagay niya, ano ang edge ng movie niya sa Malamaya?
Sagot ni Atty. Joji, “Hindi ko pa napapanood, e. So, ano naman, magkaiba naman. I don’t think Cinemalaya would have chosen our films kung parehong-pareho.
“Ang alam ko kasi na theme nila is about stealing of art. Coming-of-age story siya pero stealing of art.
“Sa akin naman, it’s a coming-of-age story pero liberation of women from this and that.
“Pareho bang may love scenes?
“Siguro, pero kanya-kanya... even that I don’t think will be the same. Iba-ibang treatment din.”
Gaano kahirap para sa kanya ang mag-direk ng love scene?
“Mahirap, ha. Ang pinakamahirap ang love scene. Kasi kung pokpok ang artista ko, ’O, maghubad ka. Eto ang gawin mo,’ ganoon.
“Hindi, e. Kailangan mong alagaan. Protektahan mo ang artist mo. Hindi makitaan, yung mga ganoon.”
Si Kit willing na nga mag-all-out, di ba?
“Pero hindi, marami pa rin akong dinarken para hindi makita. Hahaha!”
May resemblance ba sa personal life niya ang kwento ng Belle Douleur?
“Meron because I deal with child psychologists a lot because my youngest child is special. He has Asperger's syndrome, e.
“So, half of my life was spent dealing with psychologists. Kaya ko pinili yung character, yun yung profession ng character ni Mylene sa movie.
“'Yun yung part na story ng buhay ko pero hindi yung May-December [affair].
"Wala, puro gulang yung ano ko, hahaha!"
Sa kanyang opinyon, bakit dapat panoorin ng moviegoers ang Belle Douleur?
“Because it’s a poignant film about a human being who is trying to get out of a shell that society has put that person in. See, I’m not even referring ‘to her’ as a woman. It’s a person,” paliwanag pa ni Atty. Joji.