Summary by Edwin A. Santos
Friday, June 2, 2017
“Today is the day. Today…we continue our push to make a sustainable industry for Filipino Americans in Hollywood.” says Lolo Pepe filmmaker Craig Obligacion Wilson as moviegoers begin to enter Regency Theatre’s Valley Plaza 6 Cinemas in NoHo, California.
Initially, I had my doubts. Who would pay current movie ticket prices to watch short films? I stand corrected early on as I greeted moviegoers and witnessed a growing line arriving at the door…or, in this case, out the door and almost around the corner.
Fifteen years ago this year in 2002, my production team premiered our feature film, Soap Girl at Fairfax Cinemas in Hollywood. Having won the Audience Award in the Asian American category for Best Feature Film from Big Bear Lake International Film Festival three months prior, still we weren’t sure we could fill the theater. But, that was the early part of the Y2K Decade where Asian American filmmakers and talent shined in Hollywood thru indie film presentations; all thanks to both Gene Cajayon’s The Debut (2000) and Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow (2002). We did fill the theater after a long line of people that wrapped around the corner of Beverly & Fairfax took their seats. Last night’s Fil-Am Creations: A Filmmaker Movement encore presentation reminded me of that time of December, 2002.
“We had only two weeks to promote and somehow got 300 people to come out on a Wednesday night for our encore screening! Words aren’t enough to express how I feel right now. They say true leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. Props to all the past leaders I’ve worked with and to all the new leaders that emerged this year so far. You’re proof of why we need this platform to collaborate and uplift each other so we see more POC on the big screens. We’re just getting started!” says FilAm Creative Executive Director Meriden Villanueva.
“[Tonight] would [be] the biggest event in the history of FilAm Creative. And it’s not even free.” quips FilAm Creative Board of Director Walter Boholst on the last day of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, May 31st.
It just goes to show how much support there is from both the filmmaking community and the Filipino & Asian American communities. As well as the demand to see more Filipino American films and FilAm talent on the Big Screen.
All twelve short films that premiered at the 33rd annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival three weeks earlier on the month of May at ArtShare LA made their second screening last night at Valley Plaza 6.
The 13th short film ‘Pictures of Perla’ made its debut premiere last night. Here is a bit more about the Lynn Harrod film brought to you by FAC Networks: Behind-The-Scenes’ Angel Qinan and Maurus Dumalaog (who were also hosts of last night’s encore).
“Had a blast Q&A-ing with Angel Qinan tonight! Another show down!” says Maurus Dumalaog.
“Tonight! Supporting five shorts I scored: ‘Lolo Pepe,’ ‘Uncle Eddy,’ ‘Man of My Dreams,’ ‘Miss Understanding’ and ‘Plaza Blvd’ at Regency! Super proud and grateful to be part of these teams.” says composer Joy Ngiaw
A welcome speech was presented by Villanueva. Then, the first group of short films were screened. Afterwards, the first Q&A with the filmmakers of the first group of short films were moderated by Qinan and Dumalaog. Next up was the second group of short films including the premiere of ‘Pictures of Perla’ where following that was the second Q&A with the filmmakers. Closing remarks were made by Wilson.
Below are a few remarks about last night.
“Encore screening was a success! Got to show our film to 300+ packed theater!! Had a great response from the audience. Thanks to FilAm Creative for the awesome opportunity and all the awesome filmmakers. It was a great night. ~ filmmaker Rommel Andaya (‘What You Don’t Say,’ ‘Uncle Eddy’).
“Great job on everyone’s short films last night! It was well worth driving up the 405 during rush hour.” ~ editor AJ Valenzuela (Kinetic Content).
“I was impressed with last night’s screening. A very talented group of filmmakers. Good films. Nicely done. Great job for the FilAm leaders booking the theater.” ~ film producer Anthony Stoppiello (‘Hunter: Vampire Killer’)
“Great job Rodney Cajudo for sitting in the projector booth and making it happen.” ~ FilAm Creative Chief Financial Officer Walter Talens
“To all the filmmakers and creatives of the films at tonight’s screening, incredible job! This was the first time I saw many of your films and I was blown away at all the great work. I’m so proud of the work that we’re all doing and going to do. Onwards and upwards! 😉 Big thanks to the FilAm team!!” ~ singer songwriter Michael Barnum
“It was so nice to finally see all the films. Meriden Villanueva & Craig Wilson, y’all worked your balls off. ~ singer songwriter artist Hollei Day
“Last night our film ‘Colored Hearts’, made from start to finish by artists of color, played on the big screen to an audience of 300 thanks to FilAm Creative. I dreamed about this in high school, in college and now… I mean what the what, 13 films made by people of color played next door to ‘Power Rangers’ & studio films & shiz. Thanks a million times to my cast, crew and every single person involved in the making of this film. The incredible people I never saw coming that showed up and made this possible. Thank you. Huge thanks to FilAm Creative for creating a platform for artists who don’t often get a chance to be seen. Let’s keep moving forward. I’m ready to go again.” ~ filmmaker Robin Johnson
“There is so much that goes on behind the scenes and I am so proud to work with an amazing group of creative and passionate people.” ~ actress Arlyn De La Pena
“I’m still so overwhelmed by happiness from last night. Thank you all for the wonderful night. As usual, everyone was very supportive of one another, whether it’s the cast or crew, and that’s something very special that we have here, so let’s keep going! A HUGE shout out for Craig Wilson and Meriden Villanueva for making this happen and their incredible leadership. To all my filmmakers who gave me this opportunity to score your film Gabe Pagtama. Craig Obligacion Wilson, John Cruz, Sheila Tejada, Jack Hernandez, Danice Cabenela, Cassandra Pimentel (and never would I imagine I’ll get a a shout out during the Q&A?!) I personally thank you all for this opportunity, for believing in me. You all being happy with the music is my goal when I score a film, and it means the world to me to know that I helped create something that helped your storytelling. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! That’s what wonderful about what we do, and that’s WHY I do what I do. Again, great job everybody!!!” ~ composer Joy Ngiaw
“What an incredible way to end May with the screening of several great films from the FilAm Creative group the other night! Congrats cast and crew for sharing your wonderful stories with us. Kababayan!” ~ actress Lora Bofill
“Very proud of my Fil-Am peeps. Not only did our film ‘Lolo Pepe’ screen at the Regency, but it was alongside other Fil-Am created films. The momentum of this group has built so much since it started at the beginning of this year. Looking forward to where the road leads.” ~ actor Jay Costelo (‘Lolo Pepe’)
“This movement, which I’m so grateful to be a part of, is now bigger than any of us individually. Let’s keep that in the back of our heads as we march forward.” ~ filmmaker Craig Obligacion Wilson (‘Lolo Pepe’)
Villanueva adds, “Thank you Craig, Rachel Liu, Arlyn D, Danice, Walter T, Edwin Santos, Rodney, Angela Paviera, Lenore Hittelman, Rex Sampaga, Walter B, Ed Mallillin and Arlyn Sinsay for your support and hard work for FilAm Creative!
So thankful for our Fil-Am Creations team leaders with their cast & crew to be part of our first movement: Vince Cruz, Rommel, Gabe, Cassandra, Mara De La Rosa, Joe Gunawan, [Jack], Conrad Garcia, Kaitlyn Fae, Sheila, Angela, Craig and Lynn. Thanks for being so patient while we searched for our 2nd venue! Shoutout to our amazing hosts for BTS and Q&A, Maurus and Angel! We are now truly trailblazing in (North) Hollywood. Get ready for our second wave!”
Obligacion Wilson ends with, “We have something very special happening here you all. In mid January we caught lightning in a bottle, well the lightning shattered the glass. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the hard work, passion, energy and support you all give each other. Much love!! Without that, none of this is possible.
When I put this entire thing into perspective I realize one very, crazy fact….it’s only five months in! If we keep this momentum building what is this gonna be like come October?”
Whatever happens in October, personally, I have no doubts.
Photos by Gabe Pagtama and Jimmy Valena