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The Wake Up Call She Needed: Giulia Saavedra's Inspiring Journey as a Young Filmmaker


The famous line, “you are never denied, only redirected” is not just an old chestnut. In fact, 20-year old Giulia Saavedra is a testament that everything happens for a reason. You just have to believe in the beauty of waiting for the perfect timing.


Giulia is a young and aspiring storyteller and now a third year AB Film student at De La Salle College of St. Benilde. She is the writer/director behind “Repo: Pagbabalik Buhay” an official entry at Kidlat Tahimik’s Unsung Sariling Bayani Short Film Competition. The first documentary film she has ever written and directed.

Giulia Saavedra, the writer/director of "Repo: Pagbabalik Buhay" an entry to the Kidlat Tahimik's Unsung Sariling Bayani Short Film Competition

REDIRECTED


Originally, her film was made for a science documentary filmmaking competition but unfortunately didn’t make the final cut. It didn’t stop Giulia from telling stories until one day, she saw the opportunity that her film “Repo” is really meant for another platform, and perhaps even a larger audience.


The story, which revolves around the mission of Bryan Orfiano in uniting people to bring back life in the mountains of Montalban, Rizal is timely and relevant. That’s why after almost 2 years of waiting, her film finally found another film festival which we can say, a match made in heaven.


She might have been denied at first, but destiny has its own way of telling that she is just being redirected.


“Natuwa ako na nakahanap din siya ng festival na deserve ‘yung kwento na yun. Parang destiny talaga na makapasok siya sa Kidlat Tahimik. Finally, makukwento na rin ang buhay ni Kuya Bryan kahit 5 minutes lang. May nasimulan na po siya, kailangan na lang po natin ituloy.”


The Bigger Picture


At a very young age, Giulia clearly understands her purpose and her vision. She wants to make an impact and encourage people to take part in very important causes particularly when it comes to reforestation. But what we will even admire from this energetic and neophyte filmmaker is how she actually came to realize to give “Repo” a go.


“Isang malapit na nagpo-photocopy sa amin nung high school si Kuya Rene at ‘yung anak niya ay sumakabilang buhay. When that happened, nakita ko ‘yung mga tao, ang daming posts online and ang daming nag-attest sa natulong niya sa community. Nagre-reforestation projects pala siya sa Rizal kung saan siya mismo ang nagstart.”


“Tinap niya ang mga kapitan sa kanilang lugar na gumawa ng reforestation projects tapos kumuha ng mga tourists na pwedeng sumama para magtanim. Regularly ‘yun and yung mga tao inaalala siya. ‘Yun ang naging reason bakit ako nainspire na gumawa ng pelikula.”


From the vivid stories narrated by friends and loved ones of Bryan Orfiano (the son of Kuya of Rene), “Repo: Pagbabalik Buhay” was born. Giulia made sure that Brian’s legacy will be remembered and will serve as a wake up call to the younger generations.


Photos of the late Bryan Orfiano


“Na-inspire kami sa kwento ni Kuya Bryan Orfiano. Sa kanyang kwento, sa naging buhay niya. Maikli lang ang naging buhay niya pero inalay niya yun para gumawa ng proyekto para sa komunidad. Laging may bigay. Laging bumabalik sa komunidad. Nakakalungkot na hindi na namin siya nakilala pero ‘yung mga kwento ng tao about sa kanya, yun ‘yung pinakamahalaga. Yung iniwan niyang marka sa buhay ng tao. Hindi lang siya unsung na bayani, bayani siya ng mga tao doon. Lalo na kung mapanood niyo ang pelikula na magbabalik ng buhay ng kabundukan.”

TEAM EFFORT


Being the writer and director at the same time, Giulia needed to push herself to multitask. But she is very lucky to have very supportive classmates in Benilde who eventually helped her in the production of her first documentary film.


“Since nasa film school ako, sabi ko sa mga kaklase ko, may balak ako gawing dokyu sino gustong sumama mag-hike. Eh ang mga classmates ko, G na G rin. ‘Yung enthusiasm namin ang taas-taas.”

Giulia Saavedra and her classmates from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde

“Sumama sila kasi naniniwala sila sa story. Physically pagod na pagod kami. Shoot tapos hike. One day lang siya.Pero naitawid namin.”


Together with her classmates, they hiked Mt. Sipit Ulang where they shot the film. It was really tiring as she narrated but was all worth it seeing their vision come to life.


ON DREAMS AND DESTINY


Just like other filmmakers, Giulia Saavedra has her own childhood story, a realization that truly played a pivotal role before deciding to enter film school and eventually crafting stories of her own.


“Ever since ako ay bata pa, kinukwento sakin ng mga kasama ko sa bahay na five years old pa lang daw ako, nagsususlat na daw ako ng kanta and stories pero di natatapos. Dati may sinalihan pa akong parang beauty pageant, tapos ‘yung talent ko storytelling.”


“So parang nung binabalikan ko, andun pala talaga ang path ko. Parang yung film, natuwa ako sa bawat step ng production, saka postprod. Natuwa ako sa medium ng film para sa mga kwento na gusto kong ikwento.”


She trusted her instict and decided to pursue filmmaking. Llittle did she know, a bigger blessing would come her way. She was given a scholarship by De La Salle College of St. Benilde and that started her journey as a film student.


“Para sa akin natutunanan lahat kahit wala ka naman sa film school. Siguro ‘yung mahalagang nakukuha sa film school is yung mga tao na makikilala mo doon kasi iisa kayo ng drive, iisa ng passion. ‘Yung kahit nagsu-shoot kami, parang mamamatay na kami sa pagod, okay lang, kasi para sa pelikula. Siguro ‘yun yung isang bagay pa. Kapag kasama mo yung film students, iba pa rin yung pakiramdam na gumawa ng pelikula at mag-suffer with people who share the same passion as you.”


LESSONS LEARNED

Giulia is grateful to everyone who shared their time, creativity and effort for her film “Repo.” As a matter of fact, she shared life lessons she also wished to share to her fellow young storytellers.


“Marami akong natutunan sa technical aspects sa paggawa ng pelikula pero bilang isang tao, sobrang halaga talaga na alagaan natin ang ating kalikasan at bundok na nakakalbo na. Ngayon, nakikita na natin effects niya. Lalo na ako, taga Marikina ako. Kapag nakalbo ‘yung mga bundok sa Montalban, kami rin ang apektado. Nakailang baha na dito. Siguro hindi ko rin siya nakikita before ko gawin ang “Repo”, pero after, doon siya tumama sakin. Hindi pala sa kailangan kong magtanim ng puno dahil gusto ko lang kundi dahil kailangan ko.”


“Sabi ko nga noong una kong isinali yung pelikula sa science dokyu, sabi ko if manalo, portion nun mapupunta talaga sa reforestation projects. Kailangan bumalik doon para maipagpatuloy yung mga tree planting. Isang bundok pa lang yun, eh ang dami pang bundok sa Pilipinas. Nawala yung buhay ni Kuya Bryan pero mas marami pang buhay ang naiinvolve upang magkaroon ng buhay ang kabundukan.”


“As a filmmaker, yung mga ganitong kwento, kahit maliit sobrang laki ng impact sa society. Lahat tayo bilang tao, may kwento na maitutulong sa iba. Naging interested din ako sa paggawa ng dokyu. Hindi kailangan grand scale lahat. ‘Yung mga simpleng kwento, yun pa minsan ang pinaka-powerful.”


KEEP GOING


This young filmmaker dares her fellow storytellers to take part and be the catalyst of change.


“Sobrang nakakatakot ‘yung simula pero once ma-take natin ang first step na yun, parang mas magiging eager ka pang umakyat. Parang sa pagha-hike, alam mong nakakatakot. Ang dami mong kailangang pagdaanan, alam mong mapapagod ka, bitbit mo lahat ng equipment mo. Hindi mo pa sigurado kung pag-akyat niyo, ubos na ang tubig niyo, may makukuhanan ba kayo doon o kung magugutom kayo. Pagdating mo sa tuktok hindi naman yun ang sense of fulfillment. Pero pag nakita mo ang view, ah sobrang worth it nitong pinagdaanan ko.”

She also added, “hindi talaga madaling gumawa ng pelikula para makapag-shoot. Tulad sa paghahike, bababa ka pa. Sa pelikula, magpo-post prod ka pa. Mage-edit at imamarket mo pa ang iyong pelikula bago mo masabi na tapos na.”


BTS Photos during the film production of "Repo: Pagbabalik Buhay"


“Walang madaling gawin. Walang path na madali. Yung pera, ibang usapan na yun. Kung may puso ka makakahanap ka ng paraan. Magtiwala lang tayo sa sarili natin at humanap tayo ng mga taong mapagkakatiwalaan natin at sama-sama tayong lalaban. Kahit mga beginners tayo, gagawa tayo ng pelikula. Patuloy tayong magkukwento.”


At 20 years old, Giulia Saavedra shows a different level of maturity. She knows what she is doing and with whom she offers her talent and creativity to. We can all agree that the youth is the hope of our future. With a gem like hers, there is no doubt that powerful stories will continue to inspire and touch the lives of many.


Support her film, “Repo: Pagbabalik Buhay” now airing at the FDCP channel.








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