Award-Winning Short 'Sing (to me)' Gives a Powerful Voice to Outcasts & People With Disabilities | Hype | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Award-Winning Short ‘Sing (to me)’ Gives a Powerful Voice to Outcasts & People With Disabilities

Interviewed by:
Francesca Escarraga
Interview date:
March 2022
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The pandemic has greatly affected the entertainment industry. How did it affect your side of things?

It really affected me more on a personal level. It made me relax and discover many things about myself, like how much I like staying home and doing nothing besides watching basketball highlights. Or, in the spirit of this interview, watching films.

In terms of my filmmaking life, it did add a level of uncertainty with everything particularly because the pandemic made the production of Sing (to me) go through a 13-month hiatus. There came a point when I thought this film would’ve never been finished. Luckily, thanks to my amazing producers and entire team, that thought was wrong.

What were monumental life lessons, mistakes, and things you’ve learned throughout your filmmaking career?

If you feel fear, nervousness, anxiety and uncertainty about a particular idea, that’s the one you should probably do. You feel those things for a reason, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that you feel this probably because you’re truly itching to tell this story. Something about it digs deeper than ideas that make you feel safe. Get out of your comfort zone, write what scares you, write what hurts you, turn in your imagination and trust that your true soul will get you there.

I tell you this because in the past, those exact feelings would hold me back, and resorted to executing ideas and stories that were in my wheelhouse and comfort zone. And whenever I made those projects and watched them, something was always missing. It wasn’t until I actually starting scaring myself that the results ended up being what I wanted and, which is more important, the experience in making those films ended up being more fulfilling.

How important are diversity, inclusion, and representation in films? What are some of the ways creatives or industry professionals should follow to ensure that we are always adding to the conversation and heading in the right direction?

Diversity, inclusion and representation is the most important thing in films. If art is meant to imitate life, then let’s make it represent life. We need more stories, we need more people of color, we need more people with disabilities, we need more people in the LGBTQ+ community, etc. in-front of and behind the camera. That’s the only way film will end up being the legit art form it aspires to become. Otherwise, it’s a classist industry disguised as one that includes all. There’s been a lot of progress even in the last 5 years, but we need more done. Never should we be complacent with this.

There’s no shortage of talent out there, just a shortage of opportunities given to them. The industry must continue to be cognizant of the people they’re giving opportunities to, and keep moving film towards being more of a mirror of the society we’re living in.

What do you think the future of filmmaking would look like? What kind of stories do you think would emerge and capture the attention of producers and executives?

I think filmmaking has a future that’s more inclusive for all creatives around the world from every walk of life. I think there will be a few breakthroughs in the next few years, and with films like CODA winning Best Picture, more and more diverse stories and creatives will be given the funding and platforms they deserve.

What’s your advice to aspiring filmmakers who want to break into the entertainment industry?

A big leap of faith will be required of you, so when you make that leap of faith to direct that script you believe so deeply about and it doesn’t feel that big, try harder. It should feel like you’re jumping off a bridge without a bungee cord, honestly. But it’s just filmmaking, so you’ll make it through. Just trust you’ll make it through. Haha!

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as a filmmaker?

Someone who inspired others – particularly Filipinos – to just go for it and tell their stories.

Do you have other upcoming projects you want to share with us?

Good Filipino Kids is my upcoming short film that I’m currently raising money for! It’s a film that I wish I had seen when I was younger or even now, and I hope Filipinos and Filipino Americans will see a bit of themselves in it, validating their very specific experiences and feelings.

More information on the film and how to donate here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/good-filipino-kids-short-film#/

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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