NEWCOMER DOES SHOWBIZ SATIRE
5/2/2005 1:35:28 PM
BY DENNIS LADAW, The Manila Times
Independent film maker Sigfreid Sanchez isn’t exactly a household name yet, but it’s hard not to notice him at movie premieres and gala events. Even if he’s dressed like a Bohemian, he has a commanding presence. He stands six feet four, weighs 230 lbs, and wears a long beard. As the warm and self-effacing Sanchez jokes, “If you have to look for me in a crowded place, just watch out for somebody who looks like an Iraqi. That would be me!”
Sanchez lives and breathes cinema. He edits, writes scripts, makes short films and music videos, and he even acted in Jon Red’s current film, Boso. Right now, he’s busy polishing his first full-length movie titled Lasponggols. It’s a comedy he wrote about the movie business. It was just among the three scripts he penned that made it on the list of finalists in the new indie film competition dubbed Cinemalaya.
Said contest was established by the Cultural Center of the Philippines to give independent filmmakers the opportunity to make their dream films into actual films. Submitted scripts that won the approval of the judges get to be made through funding from Cinemalaya.
Sanchez’s Lasponggols is set in a sleepy rural town where two crewmen (a clapper and a utility boy played by Jeffrey Quizon and Dwight Gaston) from a film production company take refuge after being attacked by a bunch of hoodlums. To obtain the assistance and hospitality of the villagers and barangay officials, the hapless duo pretend to be famous directors out to make a film in their barrio. As a result, the entire village starts worshipping them like gods with almost everyone wanting to be a star or at least earn a buck from this faux movie. The contretemps plays like John Huston’s The Man Who Would be King (1975) meets Mel Brooks’s The Producers (1968), but spiced with the unique Filipino humor Sanchez has much of.
It’s set in a barrio with just two crewmen posing as directors but the setting and the turn of events is a sort of microcosm of what the Philippine movie industry is today. “How the people react and behave mirror the things that actually happen in show biz,” he explains.
With Lasponggols, Sanchez also wants to shed light on the trials of “the little people” who toil in the movie business. “These are the crewman, we call the “lasponggols.” They always have to arrive ahead of everyone on the set early in the morning to set up the equipment, and they have to pack all these up when all the stars and directors have gone home late at night.
“Jeffrey Quizon and Dwight Gaston play these crewmen—they’re underpaid and when no movies are being made, they have to look for the odd job to survive.”
Only 29 years of age, Sanchez is a Political Science graduate of the University of the East. He would have been a basketball player but his passion for making films overshadowed his ambition to be a revered cager. He attended various film lectures at the University of the Philippines Film Center and took part in Ricky Lee’s famous screenwriting workshop. After college he did copywriting work for advertising agencies and landed a script-reading job at Viva Films. “I had to read the scripts that were submitted to Viva by various writers. After finishing, I’d make a report on the script. A lot of the writers hated me, because the comments I made eventually led to rejection. After all, many of the scripts stole much from Hollywood films,” he recalls.
Finally, his boss suggested that perhaps it was time he wrote his own scripts, which he gladly did. Many of them saw production and this was how he made several friends in the film industry, most especially with fellow indie filmmakers like Jon Red.
Despite the big break he got with Cinemalaya, Sanchez still looks and behaves like an artist than an entertainment personality. As he himself notes in Tagalog, “Like so many other people, I’m starving and the money doesn’t come in regularly. My family’s tired of the kind of life I’ve chosen and they’re ready to ship me off to the US. But I want my ideas and scripts to be my legacy and I’m doing it even it means having to sell my sense of humor at the right price.” (It actually sounds funnier in Tagalog.)