Cinema Rehiyon 8: An Usher’s Story

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Photo by NCCA

The week-long celebration of Cinema Rehiyon 8 held at my university, De La Salle University-Dasmarinas, has ended. But, I’m not going to talk about the festival. I’m going to share a story about ushering for a day and some of the films that I’ve seen during the festival. Plus, seeing a legendary director in person!

Let’s start with the opening day. On the night before that, our professor said that we are going to usher and we have to be in the venue early but it turns out that she was wrong and we’re just going to be an audience during that day. We were in the opening ceremony and it was great and successful (although the audience wasn’t jam packed). We’ve seen some short films made by filmmakers around the country. I want to applaud two of the short films that we’ve seen: Lucid by Cloyd Winstanley and Tamiaw by Mary Ann Gabisan. I’ll discuss why.

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Photo by Phoenix Films

Lucid is a short film directed by Cloyd Winstanley of Cagayan De Oro City. The film is about Phillip, who found himself in his dream and crazy things happened throughout the film. This is actually a great idea for a film. Consider this as an antithesis of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I want to applaud everyone who made this film because they all did a wonderful job. I’m not going to discuss the plot because I want you to discover it but it’s mind-boggling and the experience is indescribable. Just watch the film. I don’t know where you can get a copy but try to watch it. I highly recommend it. The ending was mind-blowing and it’s going to stuck in you for days. It inspired me to also make a film in the future about the dream world. It’s a very fascinating world to talk about that idea in a film. Plus, anything can happen in a dream world. You can literally do whatever you want. In Tamiaw by Mary Ann Gabisan, I simply loved it because of the beauty of the cinematography that featured the wonderful location of my province, Compostela Valley. The plot is simple. It’s about an ordinary woman on her way to receiver her cash aid from the government. The film is literally only about that but I still enjoyed it because of the way they capture the life of the people in the province. I really appreciate these two short films. I hope more people will be able to see them.

There was also a film talk forum during the fourth day of the celebration in which two screenwriters, Alpha Habon and Rod Marmol (they are writers for Home Sweetie Home, Goin’ Bulilit, The Super Parental Guardians and many more), and editor John Anthony Wong talked about the world of film production. It’s an honor to see them discuss their work because it gave me a deeper perspective and more knowledge about filmmaking. Alpha Habon and Rod Marmol discussed about screenwriting and I learned a lot a lot and I promise myself that I will keep on learning about screenwriting. I’ve been writing scripts many times for a short film projects in school (Right now, I’m writing a short romantic film with Cobra energy drink as product placement) and it’s really challenging to get the right tone of a film. They shared that if you have an idea in your mind right now, start writing it now. I literally have an idea for a film right now that I can’t disclose but it’s inspired by my experience and, now, I’m planning to write it during our semestral break. In John Anthony Wong’s talk about editing and directing, I also learned a lot and it’s actually a privilege to be an audience during that time because he is the editor of critically-acclaimed Filipino films like Felix Manalo, Rosario and many more. He shared his experiences and gave some advice on editing and directing. I learned a lot on this forum and I will adapt the things that I learned here once I’m in the industry. Who knows? I could do something like that once I have a career.

But, the main story here is my experience as an usher. During the second day, our block was tasked to facilitate the events for that day. I was tasked to be an usher at Tanghalang Julian Felipe (TJF). Was it tiring? Yes. It was a very tiring experience. I have to usher the audience and delegates to their respective seats. I have to answer their questions like where’s the toilet, where to buy water, how the screening works and many more. I also welcomed the filmmakers of the films that were shown in TJF during that day. I literally talked with those filmmakers. I was also tasked to go to a computer shop to download a movie that is going to be shown. It was a very exhausting experience because my work doesn’t stop. There was even an Indian family in the audience and I ushered them to their seats in which, of course, I spoke in English. I said something like, “I’ll take you to your seats”. When I led them to their seats, they thanked me. By the afternoon, most of my task is now on the registration where I’m just going to sit, make the audience and delegates register when they enter and assist them on whatever they need. So, I was literally like working on a job during that day. It was a great experience but tiring. We ended at around 8:15pm. I went home and relaxed myself. Plus, the best part is that it’s holiday on the next day so we can rest in no time.

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Photo by Rogue Media Inc.

Despite the exhaustion of my task as an usher, I get to interact with the filmmakers who are in the venue by simply assisting them plus I get to see different people from different region.  The best part is that one of the filmmakers who came during that day is the legendary Peque Gallaga. He directed some classic Filipino films like Oro, Plata, Mata, Magic Temple, Scorpio Nights and many more. He came with his directing partner Lore Reyes. They have a film in the festival called Tabang. At first, they came to TJF (the original venue of their film) when they arrived at the campus. His assistant (I assume that it’s his assistant) came to me and asked if it’s the venue of his film and I told her that the venue changed. Then, I saw Peque Gallaga sitting outside and talking with Lore Reyes who is standing. I was like “Holy shit! Peque Gallaga is right in front of me!”. He was literally there in front of me. Later on, my friend Vianca brought them to the actual venue. So, despite the fact that his film is not at TJF, I was still able to have an opportunity to see him in person.Words can’t describe how that moment was so awesome. I still can’t believe until now that I saw him.

The whole experience was great. I was able to watch some films from different regions in the country. I saw Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes in person. I had the experience of being an an usher. I was able to be an audience of a film talk forum by two screenwriters and a well-known editor. I’m grateful that this week-long event existed in my campus. This is one of the best privileges of being a Communication student. It would be awesome if I will be those filmmakers that I interacted or the screenwriters who talked in the forum one day. Mabuhay ang Cinema Rehiyon!

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Team TJF. I’m the guy on the right.

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