Kahit na isa nang top leading man si Sam Milby, may puso at paniniwala pa rin ang guwapong aktor sa paggawa ng makabuluhan at magandang independent films.
Two years ago, lumabas si Sam sa first indie film niyang Cul De Sac, produced by Cinemabuhay for PLDT-Smart Foundation.
Dito nakasama niya sina Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Jodi Sta. Maria, and Albert Martinez, sa direksiyon ni Juan Miguel Sevilla.
Ngayong 2010, matapos mag-hit ang Viva-Star Cinema film nila ni Anne Curtis na Babe, I Love You sa takilya a couple of months ago, nagbabalik-indie film si Sam Milby sa Third World Happy.
Ang pelikulaay isa sa pitong official entries ng Cinema One Originals 2010.
Ang indie film festival—na produced by Creative Programs, Inc., isang sangay ng ABS-CBN—ay mapapanood sa November 10-16, sa Shangri-la Mall Cinemas, sa Mandaluyong City.
Sa pamamagitan ng e-mail, nakapanayam ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ang writer-director-line producer ng Third World Happy na si EJ Salcedo.
Ayon kay Direk EJ, swak na swak kay Sam Milby ang pangunahing character niya sa pelikula, isang naturalized Filipino-American guy, dahil may lahing banyaga sa totoong buhay si Sam.
SYNOPSIS. Sa pelikulang ito, ginagampanan ni Sam ang papel ni Wesley, isang 32-year-old naturalized Filipino-American living in New York City.
Iniwan niya ang kanyang lola at kuya sa Pilipinas 12 years ago para sundan ang pangarap na maging isang pintor.
Pero lumipas ang panahon at wala pa ring kaganapan ang mga gusto ni Wesley na mangyari sa buhay niya.
Sa gitna ng kanyang life crisis, nakatanggap siya ng tawag mula sa Pilipinas na nagsasabing isang mahal niya sa buhay ay namatay at kinakailangan niyang umuwi para sa libing.
Ang problema, dalawang linggo bago siya tumungong U.S., namatay sa aksidente ang kanyang mga magulang.
Magmula noon ay di na matiis ni Wesley na makakita ng patay sa loob ng kabaong.
Ipapakita sa pelikula kung paano siya tinulungan ng mga iniwan niya sa Pilipinas upang magkaroon ng clarity tungkol sa struggles niya sa States at sa wakas ay makakapagpaalam nang mahusay sa namatay niyang kamag-anak.
Dahil dito ay makakapag-move on siya at pupursigihin muli ang kanyang mga pangarap.
Ayon nga sa blurb ng pelikula: "Sometimes it takes losing someone to find yourself."
SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. "This a semi-autobiographical story," sabi ni Direk EJ, na nanirahan sa Houston, Texas, mula 1983 hanggang 1995.
"I was working para balang-araw ay maging breadwinner ng family ko dito sa Philippines.
"Kaso, noong 1995, a loved one passed away and kinailangan kong umuwi para maging head of the family dito.
"Upon working at a local ad agency then, I saw that some of my friends were also stuck in jobs that paid well but weren't exactly what they always dreamt of doing.
"I combined my coming home to the Philippines and the stories of artists not being able to pursue their dreams because of financial needs."
CASTING GEMS. Bukod sa bidang si Sam Milby, kabilang rin sa cast sina Jodi Sta. Maria, Richard Quan, Melissa Mendez, Archi Adamos at Archie Alemania.
Anu-anong factors ang kinunsider ni Direk EJ upang kunin ang mga major actors sa cast niya?
Sabi ni Direk EJ, "I chose Sam to be Wesley because I wanted someone who can relate to the character as a true Fil-Am who comes home to his roots.
"Hindi naman ako nabigo, dahil true to form, Sam has taken to the character as much as I can ask for. Dahil napapanood ko naman siya sa mga teleserye ng ABS-CBN, this proved to me that he can deliver the role with ease.
"He is a consummate professional, willing to work long hours until we get the shots we need, and so down to earth that by the second day of shooting, we've all become one big Third World family."
JODI STA. MARIA. As for Jodi, Tabing Ilogdays (1999-2003) pa lamang ng aktres ay "fan" na raw si Direk.
"Noong sinusulat ko ang character ni Aylynn as Wesley's old love, I didn't want to work with anyone else other than Jodi.
"The depth in her eyes is what really drew me to Jodi. Her acting has definitely surpassed everyone's expectations.
"Amazing rin ang madali niyang pag-change ng emotions niya, pati na ang facial expressions niya in between sequences.
"True to my instincts also, Jodi's being down-to-earth makes her one actress that any director would be lucky to work with," papuri ni Direk EJ.
RICHARD QUAN. Isang crucial role naman ang ginagampanan ni Richard Quan bilang kapatid ni Sam sa istorya.
"As Kuya Danny in the film, Richard anchors the strength and stability that Wesley's character lacks.
"Dahil napanood ko siyang umarte through the years, it made it easy for me to cast him as Sam's kuya.
"I needed someone who can be both believable in looks as Sam's kuya, but most of all someone that has the experience to act out long scenes filled with intense conversations.
"And Richard has not failed to deliver."
MELISSA MENDEZ, ARCHI ADAMOS ET. AL. Ang description naman ni Direk EJ sa pagkakasama sa cast ng ilang veteran actors ay "God-sent."
Kasama rito sina Archi Adamos at Melissa Mendez, at ang mga underrated actors na sina Archie Alemania, Geraldine Tan, at Raul Morit.
"Their characters are the bridges to Wesley's coming home to his roots. The depth and experience in their acting gives the perfect contrast to Sam's emotional journey in the film.
"New child actor Eugene Herrera has also turned out to be a nice surprise.
"I also cast as supporting characters some of my family and friends, like Hector Macaso, Sasi Casas, Tweet Sering, Ayin Noguera, and Monzi Reyes.
"All proven with indie acting experiences, nandiyan lang sila para patunayan ang suporta nila sa akin."
DIRECTOR'S PROFILE. Edward James "EJ" Salcedo has lived half his life in the Philippines and half in the United States.
He finished high school and college in Houston, Texas, and is an advertising graduate from the University of Houston.
With a wealth of varied experience, from working at a fast food chain to serving in the U.S. Air Force, EJ chose to go home after graduation and work at J. Walter Thompson Manila as a copywriter.
He was awarded Rookie of the Year on his first year, and on his second year at the agency was nominated for the Araw Award—local advertising's top prize.
After a year of film school in 2000, EJ put up a production house called Brass Knuckles, Inc. with fellow director Topel Lee.
At Brass Knuckles, he produces, writes, and directs various short films, TVCs, and corporate and music videos.
In recent years, he has directed music videos for M.Y.M.P., Greyhoundz, Dice and K9.
His freelance directing works include corporate videos and TV commercials.
His broadcast directing portfolio includes The Nestea Beach Volley Two-Hour Special, ABS-CBN's sports-reality show Kamao, and the pilot episode for the weekly TV special Nagmamahal Kapamilya.
His most recent and personal writing-directing project is a short film called Talahib—which is included in Viva Digital's groundbreaking full-length feature Imahe Nasyon.
In 2007, the work garnered a Gawad Uriannomination for best short film.
STRUGGLE AND LEARNING EXPERIENCE. Ayon kay Direk EJ, malaki ang utang na loob niya sa mga bumubuo ng Cinema One Originals na nagtiwala sa kanya upang maging isang ganap na filmmaker.
"Ang experience as a first-time full-length director/writer/line producer ay both tiring and fulfilling.
"I have gained even more respect for independent filmmaking sa paggawa ko ng Third World Happy.
"Isang struggle at learning experience para sa akin ang ma-perfect ang bawat shot ko o bawat sequence, dahil nagwo-work nga kami with a limited budget.
"Overall, the process I know will help me in the long run to become as complete a filmmaker as I can be.
"And I owe Cinema One for helping me become one," lahad ni Direk EJ Salcedo.
Bukod sa Third World Happy, ito ang iba pang entries sa Cinema One Originals 2010:
Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria Kirschbaum directed by Remton Zuasola,
Ishmael directed by Richard Somes,
Dagim directed by Joaquin Pedro Valdes,
Tsardyer directed by Sig Sanchez,
Layang Bilanggo directed by Michael Angelo Dagñalan,
at Astro Mayabang ni Jason Paul Laxamana.