Topel Lee talks about "Sundo" and working with Robin Padilla

by Bong Godinez
Sep 24, 2008
Robin Padilla (left) and director Topel Lee team up for the horror film Sundo—a Viva Films and GMA Films joint venture. Robin took note that Topel is fond of using storyboards to guide everyone during a shoot. "We do a lot of storyboards," confirmed Topel. "Nakakatulong din, kasi hindi pabalik-balik ng set-up. Mas matipid din for the producers."

Directing Robin Padilla is both an exciting and intimidating job, according to Sundo director Topel Lee.

Since Robin is accustomed to portraying action hero roles, Topel laughingly talked about how Robin would sometimes forget that he is doing a horror picture and that his character, Romano, is prone to moments of vulnerability.

It was a comical situation, to say the least, with Topel reminding Robin to act scared on certain scenes for them to effectively project fear and uncertainty to the viewers.

"Minsan sinasabihan ko siya, ‘Robin, dapat takot ka sa eksena na ‘to' and sasabihin niya, ‘Hindi! Ba't ako matatakot?'" chuckled Lee during an interview at the press conference of Sundo held last September 18 at Dulcinea restaurant onTomas Morato Ave., Quezon City.

The presscon tendered by GMA Films and Viva Films was solely intended for Robin. In the movie though, Robin is joined by Rhian Ramos, Sunshine Dizon, Katrina Halili, Glydel Mercado, former Star Circle Quest grand winner Hero Angeles, and singer Mark Bautista.

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A DIFFERENT ROBIN. Presenting a different facet of Robin, one that is capable of showing fear in his eyes, is very crucial according to the young director.

"Kailangan makita talaga sa kanya ‘yong fear," Topel reasoned, "otherwise, hindi matatakot sa kanya ‘yong viewers."

A horror project entails both strong visuals and audio for maximum appeal. That's why the entire cast along with the production team are all proud of Sundo's technical aspect, like the cameras used, pre-production techniques employed down to the sound effects—all complementing the story's overall flow.

But other than those mentioned factors, Topel believes that the film's strength remains in the main character. Tapping a male character for the lead role in a horror-suspense film is a novelty in local cinema, observes director Lee.

"Actually si Robin talaga ang nagdala ng movie, kasi I've never seen any horror movie na lalake ‘yong bida kasi parang hindi nakakatakot. Pero here, na-achieve naman namin ‘yong fear coming from a male character," Topel related.

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In Sundo, Robin plays a military operative who resigns from the military and goes into seclusion in Baguio upon learning that he has supernatural gifts. Robin's character, Romano, has the ability to see ghosts who come to pick up their loved ones who are on the brink of sudden, tragic death.

One admirable trait of Robin is his professionalism and his being amiable to co-stars and the staff. Robin likewise expressed admiration to Topel for his dedication to his craft.

Despite the mutual respect shown by both men, direk Topel confided that looking at Robin Padilla up close still never fails to bring out the fan in him.

"Actually ako din minsan nai-starstruck ako, e," Topel revealed shyly.

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Robin Padilla (left) and director Topel Lee team up for the horror film Sundo—a Viva Films and GMA Films joint venture. Robin took note that Topel is fond of using storyboards to guide everyone during a shoot. "We do a lot of storyboards," confirmed Topel. "Nakakatulong din, kasi hindi pabalik-balik ng set-up. Mas matipid din for the producers."
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