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Rodson Suarez: A Passionate Young Filmmaker from Sta. Rosa, Laguna

Gone are the days when all we have to think is how we can escape the afternoon nap imposed by our parents. When we all just worry how we can finish eating a plate of vegetables and accomplish our homework in school.

Now that we are older, events are rolling so fast and our everyday battles are incomparable. Most of us would just want to go back to the kids that were before. Stress-free, fun and exciting!

Thanks to 22 year old Rodson Verr Suarez, this wish of mine happened in an instant. Upon hearing his story of how he came up with his short film, “Kalakalaro,” I just can’t help but reminisce about the wonderful memories of my childhood.

Rodson, an AB Communication graduate from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas directed “Kalakalaro,” which encapsulates the story of a child’s innocence, pure joy and aura of hope. His film circles around the story of a young kid named Benok and his hope to enjoy his childhood even in just a short period of time. Growing up in a broken home, wherein her mother used to gamble instead of providing for their family, Benok had to collect scraps to earn a living and support his family for their everyday needs.

“We really just wanted a film with a kid that was easy to watch and is close to home as we like, with the undertones of child labor, broken families, and the nature of a kid at heart,” Rodson shared.

This young filmmaker from Sta. Rosa Laguna shared with The Film Dream that they were aiming for light drama, while sticking with the story about kids since they are really comfortable working with them. In fact, he is a member of the Youth For Christ where he serves for kids’ ministry. This experience made it easier for him to connect with his young talents. In addition, the insights coming from two of the production team members who are born again Christian and another member who is a parent helped them in developing the story execution.

Originally, “Kalakalaro” was their final output in their media production class and they were given 3 months by their Professor to lay out their plans. From the initial story they have brainstormed, which was a little bit morbid, they opted to go for a more relatable short film.

“I am really thankful to our writer and our mentor for helping us redirect the story while sticking to our vision on the story of kids. "Ang sarap maging bata ulit," "sana bata na lang ako ulit" clouded our minds when we started the production. We tried to think outside those ideas and concluded that there are kids that do not have the same freedom as other kids. Privilege is real and we wanted to show the realities we are facing even up to this day.”

But like any other filmmaking journey, Rodson and his team also faced a lot of challenges along the way.

“It’s quite a struggle to find the perfect spot especially for this film that we had to play around a site that wasn’t really kid-friendly at all. We were all looking for a junk shop initially, then we went to a trucking compound, then we ended up in Cavite City in one of their old car lots.”

They even had to move their shooting days because during that time, it was already the rainy season. He recalled that they have waited and constantly checked the weather forecast just to ensure that everything will go smoothly. Little did they know, on the second day of their rescheduled shoot, the weather wasn’t still in their favor.

“In the middle of the shoot, it rained for 3 to 4 hours. We had no idea when it was going to stop,” Rodson said.

He also mentioned that even if they were given ample time to prepare, and filming only took 2 days, another battle they had to overcome is the post production.

“It took me around 3 weeks to finish editing the film. I didn’t edit it continuously but i remember the hardest part of the edit was the drum beats (that were added at the last minute!). I remember cutting it without the beats and it just felt so different with them in it. It sealed the overall vibe of the film and we are extremely happy how it turned out.”

All of these struggles in film production were all worth it because their film “Kalakalaro” was well-received by different film festivals in the country. They won Best Short Film, Best Original Story, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Director at Cinemandirigma 2019 - We Are Juan College Division. Meanwhile, they were also nominated at Sinepiyu XII Intercollegiate Category (Narrative) in 2019 for Best Narrative, Best Production Design and Best Direction.

Not only that, the exemplary effort they have put on their masterpiece was recognized at the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ Sine Kabataan Short Film Competition in 2019. Rodson took home the Best Director and Best Short film awards, respectively.

Indeed, Rodson Suarez is a promising filmmaker we all need to watch out for in the coming years. His passion in filmmaking will not be of a surprise if someday we all get to see one of his works playing on the big screen.

But mind you, his deeper connection with films didn’t happen overnight. It took him years to finally realize that it is really for him and that was during the time he entered college. HIs schooling was a big part in nurturing the storyteller within.

“I was ‘technically’ artistic, focused on the word ‘technical’ because I first learned how to use MS Paint when I was a kid. Then I learned Moviemaker, Photoscape, Adobe Audition, up to the point in college that I realized I was equipped with these skills to make a film. Then we had a basic filmmaking class when I was in third year college and it opened up a lot for me in my film language.”

“I was hooked into showing powerful or moving visuals. That was just the goal basically when I first started. There’s something in me that wants to see a reaction from the audience, but still trying to tell a story or communicating a message as simple as possible. I think that is what I can make of the word ‘cinematic’. I’m drawn to the power of moving pictures.”

On the other hand, when asked about the tips he can give to his fellow dreamers aspiring to create more stories, Rodson emphasized that one needs to understand his or her reason why he or she is filming because that would be their greatest strength.

“It is challenging to keep that passion alive but you have to find your own way to spark and fuel that passion. From conceptualizing your crazy ideas to the editing part of your film, remind yourself always why you're doing it.”

In a time of pandemic when a lot of things are put on hold and plans are usually cancelled, Rodson shared that at present he is now helping his family in a small business venture where he even made a Christmas Special video. But once everything becomes more stable and safer, together with his college production team, they are looking forward to joining more local filmmaking competitions.

“The dream will always be there but I also have a life to live. I can make of what I have now and make the best of it, and bring those dreams to life as soon as it's more feasible. I am living life the best as I could because I know it will be the key to my next story.”

Support Rodson and his family’s business venture Pengu Milk Tea Sta. Rosa Laguna.

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