Eighteen-year-old Chase Vega is set to conquer the big screen as he stars in Peque Gallaga's newest film titled Agaton & Mindy. Chase will bring life to Direk Peque's non-formulaic teen romance, which that is slated to hit Philippine theaters on May 27, 2009.
Inspired by the classic story of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the film is a coming-of-age story about two 15-year-old dance scholars. There are no feuding families at all, except for the two star-crossed lovers whose hearts fight the complexities and craziness that love brings them.
Playing Chase's leading lady in this romantic film is newcomer Louise de los Reyes. Together, Agaton (Chase) and Mindy (Louise) study dancing under the tutelage of Cherie Gil. As they prepare intensively for a dance recital, sparks fly and they discover that amidst all the craziness in this life, all they need is love.
Agaton & Mindy is one of the six films to be showcased under the Sine Direk Series project through the partnership of the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) and APT Entertainment Inc.
After going around the modeling circuit for quite some time, Chase finds himself portraying an important role in Gallaga's film project. The search for Agaton was not easy, but Direk Peque already knew that he wanted someone not famous, someone who can provide a fresh look for the film. "He doesn't want the audience to have a preconceived notion of the actor," shares co-writer Lore Reyes. "With a new actor, there's no show biz gossip to deal with. The audience can just watch the film from a fresh perspective."
When the casting call was set, a good crop of artists went to the audition. "It wasn't just like any other cattle call," recalls Lore. "We had a good one that time. But usually you already know who to cast the moment that actor comes in. If he has the personality, the star material and the X factor, then he's the one. And Chase has these qualities."
The auditionees were trimmed down to 12 boys and seven girls. By the time that Direk Peque left Manila, the selection was narrowed down to the top three for both Agaton and Mindy roles. "We wanted an Agaton who is not romanticized," Lore explains. "We didn't want another teeny bopper film that stars a boy-next-door actor paired with a sweet teen girl."
When Chase auditioned for the role, he didn't have any idea as to who he'd be working with. "I really didn't know who they were," he says smilingly. "It was not until I was talking to my mom and she asked me who the director was. I told her that it's Peque Gallaga and she was like telling me that he's a very good director and all those stories. And I was amazed and felt really excited."
Coming from a completely blank slate, Chase had to undergo an acting workshop under Gabby Fernandez for two months and a dance workshop under Denisa Reyes for more than a month. "The trainings were rigid and intensive," Chase claims, "but they really helped me a lot especially when they made me open up about personal things. I began to loosen up more."
Chase also watched a lot of Tagalog DVDs to observe how the actors talk and express their emotions. "Even though it's my first time to be a part of film project, it was really fun working with Direk Peque and Tito Lore," Chase relates. "I felt very comfortable in the set, got to meet new people and became very good friends with them. We were like one big happy family."
Chase really made a very good impression on Direk Peque and Lore. "We already shot one of the most difficult scenes with Chase on day one," reveals the director of the film. "We started the first scene with Audie Gemora who's playing the father of Mindy. Then we moved to the second scene that was full of high emotions, and Chase was able to deliver it well. We were impressed and confirmed that we didn't go wrong with casting him as Agaton."
The second shooting day was also filled with heavy emotions. "We were shooting the ending scene the following day," Gallaga continues. "Chase won't be using words here to convey his emotions but through movements. We had to do a number of takes for editing purposes and as Chase repeats the scene, we noticed that some of the crew and staff were already teary-eyed. Even the very macho art department members who you think wouldn't shed a tear were moved."
Lore, who served as the acting coach of Chase, is also very proud of him. "That's how Peque and I divided our duties. He takes care of Mindy's character while I handle Agaton's," he adds. "Also, given that we only had seven days to shoot the film under a three-million-peso budget, and provided that he had no acting experience and had to go through a series of workshops, Chase's performance was really outstanding," ends Lore who is also line producing Agaton & Mindy.
Chase belongs to STAGES Talent Group together with Christian Bautista, Karylle, Sam Concepcion, Iñaki Ting, Raki Vega, Mikee Lee, Enrique Gil, Jeff Singson, Bryann Foronda, Greggy Santos and Cheska Ortega.