The well-known phrase “teamwork makes the dream work” seems absolutely befitting especially for Ralph John “Alphie” Velasco.
He is the director of “Kawatan sa Salog”, an official entry to the 17th edition of Cinemalaya Film Festival. According to Alphie, if it weren’t for his talented production team who also happens to be his classmates, his film would not have been accomplished smoothly without their hard work and creative support.
“Yung mga kasama ko during the shoot, mga kaibigan ko rin na filmmakers. Parang kami-kami lang din yung nagtulong-tulong ng mga kaklase ko. Saka magagaling talaga sila. Sobrang thankful ako kasi sila ang nakasama ko kasi nag-enjoy kami at mas naging madali samin ang film. Natuto din talaga ako sa kanila. Sobrang thankful ako na naging kaklase ko sila.”
Truth be told, Alphie is indeed very appreciative of everyone who has supported him in his journey but he also admits that it wasn’t really a walk in the park, literally and figuratively.
His film location happens to be in Caramoan and they have to endure long hours of travel just to make their film into a reality.
“Shinoot namin siya pre-pandemic, mga around January Sobrang swerte namin na nakapagshoot kami bago mangyari ang pandemic. Pero naalala ko pa rin kung gaano kahaba ang biyahe makarating lang sa location.”
“Ang call time namin ay mga 2am, napakaaga. Nagkita kita kami tapos tatlong van kami with 20 plus ata kami na crew kasama ang actors. Sobrang tagal ng biyahe. Inabot ata kami ng 12 hours na nagbabiyahe. Sobra pang nakakatakot kasi may kasama kaming matanda, si Tita Lui, so dapat mapangalagaan namin yung safety niya lalo na sa biyahe.”
Despite all the challenges they had to go through just to make it in their chosen location, Alphie admits that their 3 shooting days in Caramoan were filled with so much fun and amazing experience. Thanks to his crew who made film production so much easier and lighter.
According to Alphie, “Kawatan sa Salog” was originally made as a thesis project in Film School. Being a big fan of mystery films and cult stories, he was also inspired to take his film into another level.
Kawatan sa Salog revolves around the story of “Santi”, an ill-behaved child who stole a dinosaur toy which made his father mad. After running away from home, he accidentally drowned in the river and then woke up on a mysterious island.
“Medyo personal film siya eh, hinaluan ko lang ng konting thoughts and ideas about life. Galing siya sa personal experience na nangyari dati and then ayun hinaluan ko ng thoughts and ideas.”
“Sa story kasi, para siyang nagnakaw ng laruan. Hindi naman ako nagnakaw noon, naghiram lang ako ng laruan sa kapitbahay and then nasira ko siya. So noong bata ako takot na takot ako kasi, ‘anong gagawin ko, nasira ko yung laruan.”
BTS photos during the Film Production of "Kawatan sa Salog" directed by Alphie Velasco
He also added that the film was actually inspired by a pop song called “Si Nanay, Si Tatay” which is popular in Bicol. The song tackles love for parents which he also incorporated as another layer in his story.
“Sinulat ko siya nung nasa film school pa ko. Six months ko ata siya binubuo yung concept and ready na kaming mag-thesis noon. Pumunta ako sa Caramoan kung saan ko mismo siya shinoot, doon ko siya sinulat. Pumunta ako doon para isulat yon.”
Alphie also shared with The Film Dream during the interview that he usually finds more inspiration if he will visit the location first hand.
“Para sa akin mas nadadalian ako magsulat ng stories kapag nandoon ako sa lugar. Parang nakakafeel ako ng excitement and enjoyment. Parang ini-enjoy ko yung story mismo, parang nagbi-build up siya sa mind ko habang nandoon ako sa lugar, and then tina-travel ko yung lugar kung saan makakarating ang character hanggang sa makapunta siya sa goal.”
Alphie’s favorite film directors are Lars Von Trier, Gaspar Noe, Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky and Roman Polanski. He has a lot in mind but has always been fascinated with character-driven films directed by the critically-acclaimed directors that are just mentioned.
But who would have thought that filmmaking wasn’t really his first choice to pursue? He actually enrolled and finished a Management Accounting degree at Lyceum of the Philippines University before venturing into filmmaking.
“Dati kasi, hindi ko talaga alam kung anong course ang ite-take ko, parang ginaya ko lang yung nanay ko na accounting so ‘yun ang kinuha ko. Naka-graduate ako and then nagwork ako sa BPO and during those times, medyo paulit ulit na yung trabaho, hindi ko na siya trip. Yun din yung mga time na tumatatakas ako sa trabaho para manood ng sine.”
“Habang nanood ako ng sine noon, parang gusto ko i-try na gumawa ng film. Bakit hindi diba?” Parang masaya. Nag-aral ako ng filmmaking, gumawa ako ng short films, practice and ayon natuto.”
From then on, Alphie developed his love for films even more. From the young kid who just watched films for entertainment, he eventually became fascinated in films and the film school he’s in brought out the best in him to start weaving his own story.
“Wala akong doubts kasi gusto ko lang talaga gawin yung mga gusto kong gawin noon. Para sakin kasi you only live once di'ba. Parang ayoko sayangin na gagawin ko yung mga bagay na hindi ko naman gusto. Nag-take lang ako ng risk and then ayun tinry ko lang talaga.”
At present, Alphie is working part-time in BGC where he does vlog for e-sports and is continuously writing more stories, which we all hope and pray will also come to life in the future.
When asked what is his advice for young filmmakers who are also aspiring to bring relevant stories to the world, Alphie shared:
“First, syempre dapat mahilig ka sa films, inlove ka sa films, at gusto mong gumawa. Mahilig ka gumawa ng stories. And from that, kung gusto mo talaga siya gawin, you just have to do it. Parang gawin mo lang yung trip mo. Isulat mo lang kung ano ang gusto mong ikuwento at pag-aralan mo kung paano mo siya ikukwento.”
Watch "Katawan sa Salog", an official entry to Cinemalaya 2021 Film Festival directed by Ralph John "Alphie" Velasco streaming at ktx.ph from August 6 to September 5.
Coming soon... Ralph John Velasco's The Daily Daily Video only here at The Film Dream website.
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