Blog Posts by Mark Meily

  • A few words from Francis Ford Coppola

    There is a time when, after years of directing, you begin to think that you have read, seen and learned all that there is to the craft. You know which lens to use, camera movement or wardrobe design simply by reading a script or being told the genre and the cast. You just know everything…

    And then you meet Francis Ford Coppola.

    And then you start from zero.

    I had the opportunity to attend a Master Class with Francis Ford Coppola during the recent Marrakech International Film Festival and the session felt like getting advice from an old wise man about the meaning of life.

    What struck me most, though, was Coppola's humility. Before Marrakech, I attended a forum of young Filipino filmmakers and was so shocked at the arrogance and ostentation some of them exhibited after winning a couple of awards. I know that these filmmakers mean to encourage would-be cineastes and usually their idealism go hand in hand with being feisty. Coppola, on the other hand, opened his talk with "I am not comfortable

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  • The Presence of ‘Presa’

    I have seen Anita Linda in so many films since I was a young boy. It is interesting that it is only these past years that two directors are giving her the films her talent rightly deserves. Adolf Alix gave us "Adela" while Brillante Mendoza gave us "Lola." Two internationally acclaimed features that made Anita Linda known in the film festival circle.

    This year, the Metro Manila Film Festival launched a week before its opening homage to Philippine Independent Cinema with five wonderful independent films. The one that stood out for me was Adolf Alix's "Presa," which won the festival's Best Independent Film. The title, which translates in Filipino as a female prisoner, shows powerful ensemble performances headed by Anita Linda. I have not seen such a well-crafted jail film since Mario O'Hara's "Bulaklak ng City Jail."

    Perla Bautista, who was unforgettable in "Bulaklak ng City Jail," rises again as Anita Linda's nemesis and cellmate. No, there are no slapping or hair-pulling scenes typical

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  • Something different from a formulaic festival

    The 36th Metro Manila Film Festival opens this Christmas with new versions of familiar titles. Regal is now on its 12th episode of the horror franchise "Shake, Rattle and Roll." Star Cinema's "Ang Tanging Ina" promises that this year's sequel will be their last. While the consistent rivals at the box-office on the Adventure Fantasy stars Vic Sotto and Bong Revilla are now teaming up with "Si Agimat at Si Enteng Kabisote."

    This union of two successful franchises is definitely the expected crowd drawer among the lot. One of the criteria for Best Festival Film is the controversial popularity of a film with regards to box-office sales. Clearly, this film has the biggest potential in winning a perfect score in that area. As a family fare, this film attempts to have all the ingredients to entertain every member of the family. The fantasy genre of course, has always been a guaranteed blockbuster in every MMFF. Regal Films also follows this trend with the fantasy film, "Super Inday and the

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  • A Merrier Marrakech

    The news that my film "Donor" will be screened at the Marrakech Film Festival in Morocco in December was enough for me.

    Merry Christmas na, eh. And then the festival programmer informed me that two of the actors I have always admired will be watching Donor as members of the jury. They are (drum roll) John Malkovich and Gael Garcia Bernal.I first saw John Malkovich in "Empire of the Sun," playing one of the street-smart prisoners, along with a very young Christian Bale. I thought he was great. But it wasn't until "Dangerous Liaisons" that I became a fan. His Valmont, the charming, scheming partner of Glenn Close and lover of Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman, was perfect. I remember being amazed at how someone who isn't conventionally handsome could play the sexy beast so convincingly. His most memorable performance for me, though, will always be in "The Sheltering Sky," opposite Debra Winger. It was magnetic, malalim.

    Gael Garcia Bernal, on the other hand, is my man-crush. This guy has

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  • In praise of intelligent actors

    During the production of a film, we once considered an up-and-coming actor to play a supporting role. He has played leading roles in several movies, some of which got commercial success. We contacted the actor and asked if we can send him the script. The first thing he asked is not what the story or his character is about.

    He asked, "Full contract ba yan o half contract?""I'm sorry, what do you mean?"

    "Kasi kapag less than six days lang ako, per day dapat ang bayad," he said.

    I thought "Is this guy serious?" Whatever happened to "Tell me about the conflict of my character?" or at least, just ask me what the film is about. Suffice to say, he doesn't have a career in acting anymore.

    Intelligent actors are those who ask the right questions not only when you invite him or her to do a film but also during the filming of a scene. They study carefully the story and their character. They should also have a passion for cinema. Intelligent actors are a good observer of life.

    I remember telling Sharon

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