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Bro’s Production Ver. 2.0 Back With Another Award Winning Folk Horror Film

It's a normal occurrence especially within school competitions that teams are formed and are only active for the duration of that contest - it's almost what happened with Bro's Productions.

Last February, we shared the story of the group composed of Grade 12 HUMMS students from Far Eastern University Manila High School, who produced "The Interview" which was awarded the Best Short Film at the Cinemorayta Film Festival 2021.

With the foundation the group established, and with Ariana Yang's fulfilled promise to remain an active supervisor on the new generation of Bro's Production - they once again grabbed award after award in this year's Cinemorayta Film Festival.

The Film Dream is excited to keep up with the young and determined team, and have invited their new director, Earl Jewelle Santos, to fill us in with Bro's Production's continuing journey.

Bro's Production Version 2.0

Months after the previous film festival, Grade 12 Earl, through a mutual friend, approached Ariana and became enlisted as the first member of the new batch - or as they call it, "Bro's Production Version 2.0."

Eager for the opportunity, Earl, with the guidance of Ariana, started preparing the script as early as November. By January, the new generation was formed, starting with Earl inviting two of his friends whom he knows as writers, Calvin Otucan became Assistant Director and Nhicole Ramirez as Promotion Manager & Original Music Composer.

"'Yung mga ibang members namin, may experience na din sila," Earl exclaimed, "Yung ginawa po naming Cinematographer, si Joy Alcantara, may other films na po siyang napagtrabahuhan, and nagpho-photoshoot din po siya. 'Yung current Editor po namin ngayon, si Rafael De Ramos na nag-iisang Grade 11, siya laging editor sa mga groupworks."

Earl shared that he felt as if the stars aligned - as creative people from different strands and varying passions found their way to the team, sharing the same enthusiasm with participating in this year’s Cinemorayta Film Festival 2022: “Pahimakas: Ang Panibagong Sinemula.”

The rest of the team are: Kurtney Sunga (Actress & Wardrobe Design), Shane Gabato (Production Manager), Cee Jay Sureta (Marketing Strategist), Jarred Lim (Assistant Production Manager), and Ryle Salazar (Actor).

The first generation, now freshmen college students, remain part of the team as supervisors and consultants, as Earl confirmed that despite being in different batches, they consider both to be under one banner and as one family.

The Inspiration for "Isang Gabi sa Sitio Pulang Buwan"

Originally identifying as a writer, forming stories was a comfortable zone for Earl, especially since he also has a love for reading books. With this passion for literature, we asked why he opted to turn to film instead of presenting stories in his favorite medium.

"I believe na ito yung medium na very accessible sa lahat ng people, especially some people are intimidated by the concept of books and literature," he sincerely answered.

"At the same time, sa pag stay ko dito sa FEU, gusto ko mag-leave ng legacy even na online class lang," Earl mused. He explained that since entering junior high school, he wondered, "How can I serve FEU HS during my stay here, especially since scholar po ako, how can I give back?"

When he learned about the film festival, he took this chance and decided this would be it, his legacy. While he has written a script once before, almost in tune with the theme, directing a film is a new beginning for the 17-year-old student. Following the team's previous success, we wondered how he was feeling.

"Kabado-bente!" Earl immediately answered, laughing as he added, "Super nakakakaba." Recalling how "The Interview" won multiple awards, the new director honestly shared that the pressure was indeed on. Still, this did not dampen his excitement to take on the responsibility and to create the film. "That's a challenge for me, how to make my visions into reality."

The script for "Isang Gabi sa Sitio Pulang Buwan'' was completed early this year, ahead of time before the film festival's announcement. "Para siyang, folk horror, with mixture of mythology, urban legend, pero at the same time it is a reflection - it parallels the reality of society." Earl continued that the themes would be surrounding feminism and anti-imperialism.

His mission is to incorporate that into a fiction setting, "in a story that will present itself as horror, as a retelling of an urban legend."

But why a mythology-inspired horror film?

"I am really into mythology," Earl explained, "And at the same time, I studied the films presented at the last Cinemorayta, and while looking into that I came across this (FEU High School) alumni, Vahn Leinard Pascual."

Earl expressed his adoration for the filmmaker and his works, some of which won awards in multiple film festivals. He saw his recent work, "Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig," a black and white silent film which featured an albularyo's son falling in love with a tikbalang.

This gave Earl the idea of incorporating Philippine mythology into the film's concept, something that he felt comfortable and natural developing.

Another source of inspiration was the historical film, "The Witch" directed by Robert Eggers. "In a way, critics have analyzed the film representation of feminist culture before. From then, I thought: we can make this happen, pero in a local scale. Ano ba 'yung tingin ng lipunan sa mga mangkukulam? And ano pa ba 'yung mga kinatatakutan sa urban legends ng Pilipinas? Doon po pumasok 'yung concept ng kapre, who will be a character in the story," Earl added. "It is a story na very familiar yung mga aspects, and open siya for everyone."

As for what will happen to Bro's Production after the school year, Earl hinted that we could be looking out for a version 3.0, as their Grade 11 member just may be the next director and leader of another hopeful batch.

Cinemorayta Film Festival 2022: "Pahimakas: Ang Panibagong Sinemula"

"Philippine mythology has often been overlooked in literature and media," Earl began, citing that most people may only know about the more popular kind like Greek, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. However, an example of which was the release of Trese, an animated series adaption of the comic books, a lot of people became more curious and interested in our country's mythos. "Ano ba 'yung mga kwentong bayan na kinalakihan natin? How does it reflect on our society today?"

"Now that we are aiming to know our roots, especially as Filipino viewers, I think it is high time to regard fantasy as a genre of film pa'rin,"

Earl explained, aiming to break the notion some may have that fantasy is just for the kids.

"Fantasy can be a medium to narrate actual events, actual stories, na accessible to everyone." Earl invites, "With that, we are presenting a folk-horror film which is produced by Bro's Production. It is titled, 'Isang Gabi sa Sitio Pulang Buwan.' The story will revolve around a character named Clara, and her journey to become a witch in a barrio infested with stories of a kapre looming around the corners."

Earl was hoping that the audience, upon viewing their film, would be able to see themselves, and retell the stories that were told by our grandparents and ancestors.

When asked how the audience perceived the film, Earl was proud to share that the film viewers were astounded by the plot twist. "The story gave hints through visual imagery about the realities of the kapre stalking the village," he explained.

In addition, their lead actress was also praised, her role being what stood out most. "All in all, generally positive reviews and critiques were given, with kudos about the nature of the story being an out-of-the-box option from the theme. Who would make up a story for a film festival about new beginnings featuring a witch, a kapre, and a coven?"

Last May 23, 2022, Cinemorayta Film Festival held its Gabi ng Parangal virtually, where the production team and their fantasy film were given appreciation and awarded the following:

  • Best Poster

  • Best Trailer

  • Best Sound Design

  • Best Production Design

  • Best Picture

  • Best Cinematography

  • Best Screenplay

  • Best Direction

  • Special Jury Award

  • Best Actress Award - Ms. Kurtney Jole Sunga

Bro's Production humbly accepted the honors, all the while taking note of the challenge to keep up the hard work and success.

"All efforts were paid off already when the message of the film was disseminated through the viewing, but paid off further when we won 10 out of 12 awards. The whole team is happy and satisfied, and our journey to being filmmakers is only beginning," Earl shared.

True to their unforgotten motto, the young director also announced that they are opening new horizons for the landscape of student filmmaking in 'creating limitless stories.'

Follow the journey of Bro’s Production HERE. Meet more young filmmakers and know their inspiring stories HERE.


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