Para sa kanyang unang pelikula, kinuwento ni Francis Pasionang mahabang proseso na ginawa niya upang mabuo ang pelikulang Jay, namagkakaroon ng gala night ngayong gabi, July 12, sa Cultural Center of thePhilippines. Ang Jay ay isa sa sampung full-length feature films namaglalaban-laban para sa P200,000 cash prize plus a Cinemalaya trophy naigagawad sa closing ceremony sa July 20, 2008. Ito ay pinagbibidahan ni BaronGeisler, Coco Martin, Flor Salanga, at ilang mga Kapampangan actors.
"Baron was never considered for the role," kuwento niDirek Francis sa PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) through email. "Wethought that he was too ‘rough' for the role," At that time, we thought he wasbeing ‘groomed' by ABS-CBN to be the next Robin Padilla.
"He auditioned for the role, along with other namedactors. He secured the part because of his sympathetic performance during theauditions. It was not a stereotypical portrayal of a gay role."
Ang nangyari pala'y nag-audition agad si Baron nang hindi panababasa ang script. Ang indiewriter-director na si Aloy Adlawan ang nag-convince kay Baron na mag-audition.Dagdag pa ni Direk Francis, "Baron never underwent a workshop for hisrole. He just attended several readings of the script, conducted interviews[with gay media practitioners], and sported a new hairdo.
"He admitted that portraying the role of Jay, ahomosexual TV reporter, was a very challenging role. Not only because it is a‘gay role,' but he has to be convincing as a TV producer. The acting requiresauthenticity on many levels."
Narito ang synopsis ng pelikula: Jay refers to thetwo protagonists in the film. One is living, the other is dead. The living Jayis producing a documentary on the life of the dead Jay—a gay teacher who wasbrutally killed. As Jay recreates and examines the life of his subject, his ownlife is affected as he unravels his subject's hidden life and secret love.
The film tells us how media is able to create its ownversion of the truth. It challenges the audience to be critical and discerningof whatever they see on television or film. Not everything you see is truth.
Nagpakuwento rin ang PEP tungkol sa paggawa niya ng unangniyang pelikula. "They say my surname best describes me—Pasion. I alwayshave a passion for cinema. I rememberin high school, may typing class kami, we were all asked to write anapplication letter to our desired employer in the future.
"Ang tina-type ko ay application letter to be adirector, pero hindi ko alam to whom will I send it. Mother Lily? Malou Santos?
"Good thing, there's Cinemalaya. We are given freedomto produce our own films. My passion for cinema was further solidified incollege. I was an AB Communication student at the Ateneo. On our sophomoreyear, just after our exposure trip to Mt. Banahaw, me and a group of friendsdecided on establishing the first and only film organization sa Ateneo—theLoyola Film Center. They're sponsoring the premiere of the movie," pahayagni Direk Francis. Nagdidirek na rin siya ng short films noong college, atnaging headwriter and producer rin ng Nagmamahal, Kapamilya, adocu-drama program ng ABS-CBN.
Patuloy ni Direk Francis, "Nothing could prepare me fordirecting and producing for the first time. It was really a baptism of fire. Atramdam na ramdam ko ang apoy!
"It was an experience beyond compare. The challengesyou have to hurdle. Up to now, when I look back, I don't know how I was able tofinish the film on time. The biggest challenge is the lack of funds. We wereonly given P500,000 by Cinemalaya. How can you produce a movie with only half amillion? So thankfully, the NCCA gave another 200,000. And other sponsorsentrusted me with some of their money. I was not only responsible for thecreative side of the film. I was also concerned with fundraising for my film.
"Sumulat ako ng solicitation letters and literallyknocked at the doors of my prospects. It was a very humbling experience,"lahad ni Direk Francis.
Ang location ng shooting ay sa lahar-buried town ng Bacolor,Pampanga, kunsaan, ayon pa rin kay Direk ay napakainit ng panahon kaya madaliding uminit ang ulo ng mga tao.
"Hindi sanay ang mga tao dun sa nagsu-shooting. They would complain about why it has to bethat long. In one instance, yung lamay crowd namin just walked out dahil gustona raw nilang matulog!
"But aside from the numerous glitches and challenges wehad on the set. I believe that the surprises and the "miracles" we encounteredfar outweigh the problems.
"I felt that there was a Divine Hand guiding us,"kuwento ni Direk Francis sa kanyang personal email sa PEP.
BASED ON REAL-LIFE INCIDENTS. "The film came to being because of mywork as headwriter-producer of a public service program. Let me have adisclaimer that I am not really Jay—the character. His character is also borneout of my interviews with reporter friends—how they conduct their work. Jay isthe embodiment of the collective experience of majority of reporters andproducers.
"I was developing the story of how media could intrudeinto the lives of people. Then there was this big phenomenon of the PBB [PinoyBig Brother] wherein the tables have turned and the people are ‘using'media for their popularity. Real people ‘performing' in front of cameras.
"Then a shocking news happened, the PDA [Pinoy DreamAcademy] producer, Joel Siervo was brutally murdered inside his own apartment.I could remember that day distinctly because I was inside the PBB house and wewere supposed to shoot the spiel of Bernadette Sembrano for Nagmamahal,Kapamilya."
Mr. Siervo was stabbed to death in his Quezon City home inNovember 2006.
"Everyone was in panic and Ms. Maru Benitez, one of theproducers, came in panting. We were not aware that Joel, at that time, wasalready dead. It was only when we returned to our editing room that we heardthe news.
"This incident prompted me to incorporate it in myscreenplay. I wrote the script for a week. Then I skipped some office meetingsjust so I can meet the deadline. When I submitted the script, I was going backto the office, I realized, I didn't indicate my real name or any contactnumbers on the scripts.
"A few months later, I was interviewing Boom BoomBautista in Bohol [who lost to Mexican Daniel Ponce de Leon], I received a callfrom Cinemalaya. One of the staff knew me and remembered the black folder of myscripts. He asked about the title of my work. I said Jay and then hesaid I won in their contest.
"I submitted the screenplay to Cinemalaya. Out of 200entries, we were chosen to be the Top 10 finalists. And the rest, as they say,is history," pagwawakas ni Direk Francis.
Mapapanood ang Jay sa Cultural Center of thePhilippines hanggang July 20, 2008. Makikita DITO ang schedule ng mgascreenings.