To be a Film Director

To celebrate the fact that I got into BA Theatre Arts in UP Diliman, here’s an essay I did to get into a Film Making Competition back in A.Y. 2013-2014, as a director.

Discovering a talent is no simple task. To discover your abilities, to be able to confidently say “This field of study is where I belong” is such a rare occurrence – no matter the age. Why is this so? I imagine it is because we are afraid. We are terrified of taking that big leap, of sacrificing treasures that we are not even sure would be worth it.

We’re throwing caution to the wind, and the only concrete conclusion is that the final results will be similar to the “Schrodinger’s Cat” – in a way that they are unpredictable, and the only time we’ll be able to gather data is after we make that big decision to open the lid and peek inside. It’s a 50-50 chance. You either hit the jackpot, or come home empty handed. It’s a gamble, and the stakes are high.

But here, I present myself to you, applying for a big role (a director) for a big event (a national interschool Film Fest Competition) in the hopes that I have finally found my area expertise, in the hopes that maybe – just maybe – this foolish act of following one’s heart, this irrational choice to shape my own destiny, might lead me to where God plans me to be.

I am looking, not for fame, but for a community that will accept me. I am hoping, not that we would win (though that would be an added incentive), but that my ideas – plot bunnies that I have tried to tame but instead nurtured and allowed to breed rampantly – will finally be shown to the world for all to see. This is not my plan of boosting my ego, but to prove my worth to the world as a person, to contribute something positive to our society – and most importantly, to my nation and its cinematography community – so that I can be, at the very least, appreciated for my efforts.

I have many traits, characteristics, personalities. Some of them that I apply to or can be related to directing films are these. One of the things that you can always depend on when it comes to me is honesty – sometimes I am even honest to a fault. Though I am polite, I do not lie when it comes to criticising a work, or a person’s actions. I make sure they understand what I am trying to convey.

I am also cynical and cautious, hesitant before making a decision. I weigh my options, consider the benefits and the cost, predict the results. I think deep about all the factors that might be affected – socially, emotionally, spiritually, economically, etc – and how certain actions, gestures or words that we will include in the film might affect certain parties of the audience. I put myself in a thousand shoes, try my best to view the scene in every perspective I can come up with, and I am adaptable. I am willing to change my initial plan to include other ideas – especially when it’s another person’s.

Another thing to note about me is that when I plan a scene, I make sure it is concrete and sure, not doubtful and uncertain. When I plan a scene, I plan the music, the camera angle, the tone of each character, the emotion that’s supposed to show on their face, the exact time they should break down so that it synchronizes with the music. I close my eyes sometimes and imagine a scene play out in my mind – it is almost always vivid. Colorful, steady, and solid. To be able to imitate a scene that I’ve had in my mind into the silver screen is a big dream of mine that, with your approval, will come true.

I plan to do what my heart and mind dictate to me, but I am open and very willing to listen and include others’ suggestions into my mental blueprint. I can compromise it in a way that will benefit us and the audience – and fast.

I am also very socially aware, in both small and large scales. I am active and present in mind when it comes to situations where my focus is very well needed. If including a social issue is one of your intended goals for this project, then I am the person you are looking for. I know what people need, I need more information regarding why they need it. The future workshops will, I hope, explain that. I am expecting that it will simply teach me how to show it in the most heartbreaking, most tragically beautiful way possible.

Observing, analyzing, and criticizing actions, words and simple body languages has become such a normal, automatic stimuli for me that I don’t even bother about thinking “Oh, we’re watching a movie, time to turn on ‘movie critic’ mode”. It just happens, and I cannot turn it off. So you can trust me when I say that my commands or orders as a director will be personally criticized by myself ten times more than anyone else will. It is an unexplainable combination betwee using my instincts and debugging every step that I, and my crew, will make.

I am also, dare I say it, unafraid. Like I said before, I am honest to a fault. I am not afraid to tell others what I feel about their work. I am not afraid to voice my opinions, to announce my ideas – IF AND ONLY IF I know that the people I will work with will accept them, or criticize them politely and not judge it behind my back. I am not afraid to face the music, and while others will try to defend their actions, I am not afraid to accept people’s judgements. The very fact that I applied should impress you.

I am a foolish leader, perhaps, but I am a fearless one.  Someone who tests the boundaries created by mad men who make absolutely no sense. Someone optimistic enough to boldly say, “I think we should still continue on with this completely foreign idea that no one of our age could have possible thought of”. Someone high enough to think that they can take over the world, once scene of a film at a time. I am not afraid to be different.

Yet, I am aware that I have flattered myself too much, and I am not afraid to say that I do have some negative attributes too. I am imperfect, I have flaws, and these are some of them that might affect us as a team, and the film as a whole.

A close friend of mine has said that I can sometimes be demanding, and to be honest, sometimes I am. That is because I malfunction when I am pressured or stressed. When I malfunction, many of my negative traits are revealed, and most people loathe me for it. I am determined, but sometimes I can be too lazy to perfect a work. “Whatever the result is, if I can’t do anything about it, then let it be”.

I am also not a little ball of sunshine. I can be dark and stormy most of the time, for no reason at all, and would wish to never interact for the rest of the day. Sometimes, my own ideas are affected, they turn into sad, depressing scenes. Sometimes, I feel like giving up. When that happens, I usually don’t. I keep pushing forward.

I also scream a lot, and cry openly sometimes. Like I said, I am not afraid – not even to show my emotions, and sometimes, it’s just really uncontrollable.

I also procrastinate too much for my own good. I don’t do things until the last day. The end result is never as good as I want it to be.

I try to change my ways of course. I’ve been trying to make myself better. But if I ever show these traits during my time as director, I hope you will forgive me. I am willing to try to be professional.

So, knowing that this is your only way of judging if I am righteous enough to become the director of the Film Fest, I hope I have done my best to describe myself to you. No matter the results – if I am chosen or not – I am pleased at myself for being able to take that one ounce of courage to grab the opportunity before it passes. What matters, to me, is that I’ve tried. And I will keep on trying.

If I do get chosen, I would like to silently assure you that I will try my best.

I would like to end this with a quote:

“I am able to say, though I don’t have a lot, I do have enough to get us by and if you stick with me, I will give this everything. But I will need everything from you and we’re going to reopen this zoo. This is the best job in the world, and it’s gonna take everything to make it work. So don’t….don’t give up on our adventure.” (We Bought a Zoo, 2011)

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