Pelikula Q&A: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank
Jansen Musico with writer Chris Martinez
Pelikula: You’re back for Cinemalaya, but not as the director…
Chris: Marlon Rivera is directing. Siya yung co-producer ko sa 100. We take turns. Siya naman ngayon. Siya naman ang magdidirect… He used to be my boss at Basic Advertising. He was my CD before I became a CD myself.
Pelikula: Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank is a parody of the culture of indie filmmaking in the Philippines and, ironically, a part of that is Cinemalaya. What spurred you to make such a film?
Chris: I think it’s relevant. It’s about independent filmmaking. It exposes our identity as a cinema.
Naisip namin ‘yan when we were going around festivals. The audience abroad were shocked with 100. It’s a Filipino film with a woman who lives in a nice condo. I wanted to say, “Hindi po kami lahat mahirap sa Pilipinas. Hindi po kami lahat nakitira sa ilalim ng tulay.” Kasi yun ang image nila, that’s why na-shock sila. Some of them were reacting in a way like, “How can you do a film like this when there are poor people in your country?” or “What if Mylene Dizon was poor, would she be able to do all the 100 things she did?” Pero middle class po kami eh. Hindi ba’t middle class ang pinaka kawawa dito sa bansang ito? We’re the ones who pay taxes to take care of everybody. So naisip namin, let’s make fun of it. Ito ba ang gusto niyo? Poverty? O ayan, poverty! Pero paglalaruan namin.
Kasi ‘yun ang naging identity natin sa festivals. These people want to see something they don’t have in their country. This something that needs to be talked about. It something that needs to be discussed. We’ll give you something that you want, but this is our take.
Pelikula: Tell us about the characters. What made you pick those three for your story?
Chris: Septic Tank's a comedy about a producer, writer, and production manager who actually doesn't have a dialogue. She's a bit player. They come to Starbucks to meet. They have their iPads, SLRs, cellphones, iPhones, and gadgets, and they speak in English. They want to do a film about poverty. Their dream is to make the first Filipino film to make it to the Oscars. Sinasadya nila na magpakita ng poverty kasi alam nila na it's going to be picked up by international festivals. But they're not bad people, they're just naive and misguided.
While looking for actors, we were thinking, “Why not cast actual filmmakers in the role of filmmakers?” [They approached a prominent young independent filmmaker who declined, citing his zero skills in acting.] Ang lakas maka-meta, ‘no?”
Pelikula: What’s your personal stance on the whole mainstream VS indie debate?
Chris: Sa ‘kin pareho lang eh. The way I delineate indie and mainstream is really all on economics. Caregiver would have been an indie film if may strict budget yung independent producer. KimmyDora is an independently-produced film with mainstream aspirations. Siyempre kapag mainstream, mas malaki ang pressure mo to do something that is a definite crowd pleaser. Kailangan kang panoorin ng tao. Kapag indie kasi, may limit yung budget, so that’s easy to recoup in the future. Kapag mainstream malaki ang budget, kasama na ang promo. For that to break even, you have to earn thrice.
I think mas nakakapressure ang mainstream in the way that it has to be more commercially appealing. Kapag independent kasi alam mo naman ang expectations mo eh. For Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank we’re not expecting a blockbuster film. If mainstream ang aspiration mo lagi, your film needs to make money so the producers can recover their investment and do more films.