Doing an independent film, via Slow Fade, was actor Diether Ocampo's way of thanking the industry that has nurtured his movie career for over a decade now. And he can't thank the industry enough
"Malaki ho ang pasasalamat ko sa industriya na tumutulong din sa akin," an overwhelmed Diether gushed when PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked him for a few messages after last night's premiere of Slow Fade, directed by first-timer Rommel Sales, at the Robinson's Movieworld Galleria Cinema 3.
Slow Fade, based on the script by the award-winning screenwriter Paul Sta. Ana (winner of Cinemalaya 2010 Best Screenplay award, for Mayohan), tells the story of Darius Sales, a lonely probinsiyano videographer's journey upon learning of his impending death due to brain tumor.
Diether's leading lady in the film, Precious Lara Quigaman, also graced the event with actor-boyfriend Marco Alcaraz.
Also present at last night's full house premiere was actor-producer and director Albert Martinez of the Metro Manila Film Fest entry, Rosario. (CLICK HERE to learn more about this year's MMFF entries)
Slow Fade is a pre-MMFF Indie Tribute entry, funded by PLDT-SMART Foundation and Martinez's Cinemabuhay.
In his speech, Albert expressed hope that indie films, like Slow Fade, succeed in being "a cross-over" between mainstream and independent films.
"It may be slow, but it will never fade," said Albert, referring to the film's production process, from conceptualization and actual production, to its premiere screening, all of which took more than a full year to pan out.
Back to Diether, he said his support would always be with the movie industry, both mainstream and indie.
"Gusto ko ring suportahan ang ating industriya pagdating sa indie filmmaking, so I made it possible na makagawa ako ng at least isang proyekto para makapag-contribute tayo.
"Nakakatuwa naman dahil siyempre nabibigyan din natin ng opportunity na makilala yung magagaling nating filmmakers na hindi basta-basta nabibigyan ng opportunity.
"Maganda rin na magkaroon ng pagkakataon na magkasama-sama yung nasa mainstream at indie."
BIG RISK. Does Diether consider appearing in an independent production, like Slow Fade, a big risk or a gamble as far as his movie career is concerned?
"Not really," he answered. "Ako kasi, siyempre, nung nagsisimula rin naman ako, marami ring mga producers and directors na nagbigay ng opportunities.
"Panahon naman ngayon para magbigay rin ako ng chance.
"Gusto ko ring makilala sila kasi magagaling naman talaga ang mga kasamahan natin sa industriya na hindi lang nabibigyan ng pagkakataon.
"So, this is the best time for everybody to get together, para lalong umunlad and industrya natin," said Diether, referring to new talents like director Rommel Sales and writer Paul Sta. Ana who were given good breaks through the project.
MIXED EMOTIONS. Is Diether happy with the outcome of Slow Fade?
"Mixed emotions, e," he said, smiling. "Iba-ibang elements kasi, nandun [sa film]—may drama, may comedy...
"Very unpredictable yung mga eksena, although alam mo naman yung formula pagka indie, you don't know really what to expect."
Slow Fade is devoid of sentimental narration but is nonetheless a moving and engrossing film.
And although the subject matter and theme about a person's coping with terminal illness has been tackled in a number of local films, director Direk Rommel's treatment was somehow different, as he infused it with humor and some techniques in magic realism .
"Hindi po natin ine-expect 'yan, pero maganda, at sana suportahan natin itong movie na ito," added Diether.
ON WORKING WITH LARA QUIGAMAN. Leading lady Precious Lara Quigaman, according to Diet, was a joy to work with.
"Kahit mabilis lang yung aming pagsu-shooting dito, we were able to work well. Okay naman," said Diether about Lara.
On his part, it was tough doing an indie while he was busy at work for ABS-CBN's teleserye Rubi.
"Ang hirap!" exclaimed Diether.
"Siyempre, yung part ko sa Rubi, [na] macho yung character, na matipuno. Then, dito shift naman ako sa maysakit, na nanghihina... sobrang extreme!"
But Diether is confident his fans would love seeing him in an offbeat characterization, as in Slow Fade.
"I'm pretty sure, maa-appreciate din nila ito," Diether muses.
"Maraming makaka-relate dahil yung istorya at mga eksena, e, busog na busog sa emosyon, kaya hindi sila madi-disappont.
"I'm hoping na mapansin din ito sa ibang filmfests [abroad]."
UPDATES. PEP asked Diether about his present concerns, professionally.
"I'll be guesting sa teleserye na Sabel, and then yung bagong teleserye, with Bea [Alonzo] and Robin [Padilla], yung Guns and Roses.
"And movie with Kris Aquino, yung Dalaw," mentioned Diet of his entry at the MMFF 2010.
So, what about his love life, if any?
"Naku, zero love life po tayo ngayon!" Diether laughed.
"Zero po ngayon! Trabaho po muna."
Will it be a blue Christmas then for Diet?
"Hindi naman po. Hindi naman po," he countered.
"Marami namang trabaho. Dito lang po [ako magpa-Pasko], kasama ang family."