It’s 3:11 am and I woke up to use the washroom and I can’t seem to go back to sleep easily so I decided to reminisce about the short films, about 9 of them that I wrote, produced, and directed and each one of them has a special memory etched in my heart and mind.
But one that seems to haunt me in a good way even until now is “Cities With A Heart” this film seem to start to breathe its own life even after 3 years of production, this short film that I wrote, produced and directed was originally made for 48 hour film project for Dubai, it took me only 2 days to write, shoot, and edit the film and it was so much fun.
We were lucky to have the wonderful locations around Dubai including my own apartment where some of the scenes were shot, and a wonderful cast and crew that I worked with.
Another thing I realized is the long lifespan of a film, a good film, I shot this in 2014 and until now it is still being shown and accepted in International Festivals worldwide.
After competing at the 48 Hour Film Project in Dubai, it was accepted and shown at the New York Audience Now Filmfest in 2015, at the same year it was also accepted and shown at the Big Arthouse Chicago Filmfest, in 2016 it became a semi-finalist at the International Open Short Filmfest in Bangladesh and this coming August 25-27 it will be shown at Indiewise Film Festival in Miami, Florida.
“Cities With A Heart” is a story of a filmmaker going around the world and looking for cities with compassion, love, and understanding, in short cities with a heart.
My heart still aches until now after watching one of Oprah’s past shows about the 6-year-old kid Clayton who was abused by his parents by locking him up in a chain in the bathroom for almost 3 to 6 months.
Now he is almost over 20 years old and he opened up and reminisce the past ordeal he went through and the memories he had of those unpleasant moments. How I cried and sob looking at those photos of the room, chain, and marks at his body when he was found.
I can’t imagine how people, and not just normal people but parents who treated their offsprings with such cruelty to their own flesh and blood. It just reminded me of how lucky I am with such parents who love me and the rest of my brothers and sister who nurtured us and gave the best to all of us.
Kids are given to us and are gifts from our Almighty Father to nurture, teach, and love unconditionally, to see them grow through the years and see them develop and become adult and start to have their own family is something to cherish and to thank for and I think is one of the main purposes of our life.
My ever first encounter in filmmaking was working with Roger Vadim as an assistant hairstylist for the film “Nightgames” in 1979 -1980, the filming were done in one house in Manila and I assisted Graham Oxley who was then one of the senior hairdressers from Rever Salon Mandarin Hotel.
I remember the unforgettable laugh of Joanna Cassidy, who I think became famous as one of the replicant in “Blade Runner” starring Harrison Ford, unfortunately, there was no iPhone yet to capture what was happening around, but I remember the filming of the party scene with Mr. Vadim in white t-shirt, short, and hat giving instructions to everyone, there were lots of people around and the ambience, the crowd, laughter, and the big camera in front of them stayed in my mind, and I remember them as if it was yesterday.
And from that time on, I said to myself that “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life” …
After 3 days of filming and getting used to the ambiance and all, I went back to work and bought my first camera, it was the Kodak Instamatic and started taking pictures of my family, friends and loved ones. To be able to raise capital on my new found expensive hobby, because of developing charges, I started taking pictures of my friends and started charging them as well just to pay for developing the photos.
From Instamatic camera, I then invested on a 16mm projector and started buying film rolls and learned how to splice them and put them together again, the smell of the film rolls and the effects of the splicing on the white screen injected a magical feeling of accomplishments, after getting used to splicing films, I then bought my first DLSR camera which was a Nikon F2.
And that is another story and the rest was history.
When I met HRH Arfaq who is the maker of the world’s most expensive perfume according to Guinness Book of World Record I was enthralled, mesmerized, and fascinated, he meticulously explained how over one thousand roses are pressed to get its oil and become one of the ingredients to make a perfume, and not only that, he also then talked to me about where and when we can find the best roses in the world with the best smell there is.
I was looking for words how to describe my feelings as he tells me the whole process and the art of perfumery. I always thought that you go to the shop, buy the latest perfume and that’s that, but after meeting HRH Arfaq, I began to appreciate the people behind those smells and the process done.
Before a perfume is launched in the market, after putting the formula together which is heavily secured, it goes to a different process, testing, testing and more testing and once the smell is approved then it goes to another tedious process of marketing.
Of course, the marketing side is another story, the right bottle, model, tagline, the right timing, season, country and once you have all of those right then only then you bring it out to the market.
Now, I realized that making and launching perfume is as nerve racking as filmmaking.
Sabbath day is always the best day of the week, here in Dubai and the Middle East we celebrate the Sabbath day on Friday, after a whole week of blessings, challenges, and decisions, this special Sabbath day gives me a day to rest, a day to magnify and a day to renew my covenant with the Lord.
This week is special because we had an activity with our return missionaries and most of them rekindled their wonderful experiences, and it’s like transporting me into their world of fun, challenges, and accomplishments, how I wish I could have gone to mission too, but unfortunately by the time I was baptized I was already 23 years old and working at the height of my career, but I’m very happy that two of my brothers Anthony and Arthur manage to go to mission, and now I look forward to my nephew Leonard to go into the mission too.
Pictures of their companions, zone leaders, mission presidents coupled with park, floods, baptized families, and sceneries that inculcated in their minds were shared with gusto as we, the rest of the audience, clapped and cajoled noisily.
What a wonderful Sabbath day and I thank God for witnessing another wonderful activity of Dubai 1st Ward.
Can’t remember where I came from the night before, but I was sure it was my second or third night at the house, I just wasn’t sure if I was in Tagaytay, South of France ,or even the hills of Tuscany, what I can remember is waking up from a nap, look around and I notice that I’m outside the verandah, I see some cypress tree and I notice the purple silk that covers me in a very soft white bed, I looked at my right and can see from the glass shadow of a man, though its very fuzzy because of the glass he smiled at me and I smiled back, then behind him a house helper came to bring some food and place it at the table.
I turned around and see the watch, it reads 10:41 am, I smiled at myself and feel the warmth of the purple silk blanket then I opened my eyes, I’m back in Dubai and its 10:06 am, it was a beautiful dream and I know that it will come.
Looking forward for another busy day and started chatting with Arnold Vegafria about an upcoming film project to be shot in Thailand, can’t say much because of the NDA I signed but its an interesting film project.
Then, another meeting with Romanian actor Robert Cristian Trif to finalize the upcoming short film that we will shoot, I’m sure today will be another wonderful and productive day.