Julius Alfonso, the director behind the Metro Manila Film Festival official entry “Deadma Walking,” believes labeling movies with lead gay characters as pink films is obsolete now that mainstream has embraced these.
“I think nagkaroon na ng evolution ang viewing habits ng mga viewers (pagdating dyan),” he said.
The director added many Filipino viewers are “smarter” now in that they focus on the story more than anything else. He noted that “big stars do not guarantee hit films” anymore, citing the surprising success of Empoy Marquez and Alessandra de Rossi’s “Kita Kita.”
Julius hopes “Deadma Walking” will open new perspectives and ditch stereotypes on gays.
“’Pag sinabi kasing gay, may expectation na loud, na parlorista (sila). With this film, ipapakita ’yung kanilang other side.”
“Deadma Walking” is the film adaptation of the 2016 Palanca Award-winning screenplay written by Eric Cabahug. Produced by T-Rex Entertainment, it focuses on friendship.
But why with gay characters, we asked.
“Para mas masaya. Mas makulay ang kwento,” he said.
More than that, the screenwriter tackled death but in a light way; lead character will stage a fake death in order to witness how things will be done during his wake.
“It’s a struggle for acceptance din. Imagine, you have to pretend to be another person at kailangan maging ‘Deadma Walking’ ka sa sarili mong lamay,” Eric explained.
Playing lead roles are Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman.
For Edgar Allan, “DeadmaWalking” is a tribute to timeless friendship.
“It’s about kung ano ’yung kaya mong i-sacrifice sa isang kaibigan. Pure entertainment siya (film) pero makakaramdaman ng sikip ng dibdib at the same time,” he said.
Given its theme, many would probably say that “Deadma Walking” is somehow similar to the 2016 MMFF entry “Die Beautiful.”
But the actors clarified the matter, maintaining they have a totally different attack on the film.
“Actually common na tanong ’yan sa amin. Both merong burol scene kaya hindi natin maiiwasan na ma-ikumpara,” Joross admitted. “Sa tingin ko kasi ang ‘Die Beautiful,’ ang pinag-huhugutan nila is ‘You have to be true to yourself,’ kami naman ‘You have to fake it to make it.’”
He added: “Like naisip niyo ba na kapag namatay kayo, anong magiging itsura ng burol niyo? May pupunta ba sa burol niyo? Ano kayang sasabihin nila sa pagkatao mo? Nandu’n kami sa ganoong aspeto at hindi siya usual na nangyayari sa mga pelikula.”
If anything, Joross reiterated the film will surely take audiences on roller-coaster ride of emotions when it opens in theaters on Dec. 25.
He assured fans it is worth watching, saying, “Bilang isang Palanca winner ’to. It is very well written.”
Edgar Allan, on his part, said: “Malulungkot ka, matatakot… halo-halong emosyon talaga. Laugh out loud tapos kikiligin ka din. Higit sa lahat, magiging mabigat ’yung pag-intindi mo tungkol sa kamatayan.”
Gay be like
Joross and Edgar Allan are not new to gay roles.
In the film, Joross portrays John, a gay who has cancer and eventually stages a fake death; while Edgar Allan is the ever supportive best friend.
Asked how they differentiate John and Mark from their previous gay roles, Joross said, “mas kinilala ko ’yung character ko.”
“Iniisip ko kasi na paano ko kaya iibahin ’yung atake ko. So ang ginawa ko, mas kumonek ako kay John. Siya kasi ’yung hindi magaslaw na gay, mas professional siya kumilos. Hindi siya nagko-cross-dress until ginawa niya lang ’yung sa mismong lamay niya,” he explained.
It challenged him more, he noted.
According to Joross, portraying a “serious type of gay” is quite hard for him as “na-kontrol ’yung kalandian ko!”
“Sanay kasi ako na uma-adlib sa mga pelikula. So dito, medyo pigil na pigil ako kasi nasasabihan ako na direk ng medyo out-of-character na kapag naging loud ako,” he said.
Edgar Allan is the more out and loud type of gay. He shared he has Vice Ganda as peg for his role in “Deadma Walking.”
“’Yung pagka-witty niya, ’yun ’yung peg ko dito. Tapos si Mark kasi, tunay na kaibigan at the same time benta talaga ’yung mga punch lines niya,” was how he put it. “Eh ako naman palabiro din ako at naughty paminsan-minsan, so medyo nag-swak sa akin ’yung role.”
Despite being straight, Edgar Allan didn’t have a hard time playing gay. He somehow relates to their lives as “meron akong kapatid na bakla.”
“I’m really proud na may kapatid ako na bading. Siya din minsan ’yung peg ko, kung paano siya kumilos at magsalita,” he maintained.
Edgar Allan and Joross were not the first choice for their roles but it’s okay for them.
“Eh hindi naipasok sa schedule nila (first choice). Kami ang sumalo ng mga blessings nila,” Joross quipped.
If anything, Edgar Allan said he is thankful he and Joross have good chemistry. Thanks to their friendship off screen.
“Para nga kaming hindi nagshu-shooting eh, parang naglalaro lang. Pero sobrang blessed kasi maganda ’yung resulta ng pagkakaibigan namin, naipakita namin ng maayos sa story,” he said.
Director Julius enjoyed directing the two actors.
“It was a fun experience,” he said. “Ang naging requirement ko lang naman sa kanila, maging totoo eh… maging natural. Pero masaya kasi makulit sila eh, medyo pasaway.”
He revealed actors Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson and Eugene Domingo have cameo roles in the film.
Joross and Edgar Allan expressed excitement over their inclusion to MMFF’s Magic 8.
This is the first time Edgar Allan became part of the festival as lead actor, while it is the second time for Joross after “One Night Only” in 2008.
They admitted they weren’t expecting the film to be selected as one of the finalists, reiterating their primary goal is just to do a quality film.
The actors are not pressured to bag a best acting award.
“Ang gusto lang namin maayos ’yung acting namin, ’yung pelikula. Oo siyempre gusto namin makapasok pero habang ginagawa namin siya walang pressure,” Joross insisted. “As of now masaya lang kami na nakapasok kami. Walang expectations o ano.”
Edgar Allan wishes the film would be a box-office success.
“Ang priority namin is makagawa ng makagandang pelikula. Ngayon na nakapasok kami sa MMFF, sobrang blessed namin. So sana, tangkilin ng mga tao kasi talagang pinaghirapan at pinaganda namin ang pelikulang ito.”
Tags: Deadma Walking, Edgar Allan, Edgar Allan Guzman, film adaptation, film festival, gay, gay characters, Joross Gamboa, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, mb.com.ph, Metro Manila Film Festival, Not just another gay-themed movie