Monday, February 20, 2012

Bon Ever!

"Bon Iver? Is that Bon Iver?!!!!" asked Jonathan, his voice rising by a decibel in excitement. He just heard the new CD that I popped into my computer. Until last night, I had no idea who they were, nor was I particularly allured. Curiosity was the only reason I played the music. "Yeah," I said matter-of-factly, feigning expertise.

The friend who gave it to me said that Bon Iver won something at the recent Grammy's. He wouldn't have given it to me if not for the fact that his CD player broke, and he had no way of playing the music. I took it because why not?

"Wooow! Look at Lea listening to Bon Iver. That's my most favorite band right now," Jonathan shouted from his room, obviously very impressed. "Matt gave it to me. Don't worry I'll share. Here." Lea yelled back as she turned up the volume to accommodate her roommate.

Unbeknownst to Jonathan, I kept thinking to myself, "Now how will I finish my budget with this sleepy music?" But alas the people pleaser in me won.

Half an hour of Bon Iver later, with a good cup of coffee and the nice crisp weather, I understood what the fuss is about.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Moving out. Moving in. Moving on.

Two months ago I had to move out of a space I called "my place" for two years. It's what its owners called a "Luxury Apartment" on all their marketing literature. It was a nice two-bedroom, two-bath affair that boasted of modern (and matching) kitchen appliances--dishwasher included, and high-end fixtures. It was in fact quite luxurious with its pool, fitness center, indoor patio that made you feel like you're not in LA, hallways that smelled nice 24/7, and of course its amazing location, location, location. My roommate and I lived in Hancock Park, one of the better areas in LA where mansions and hedges abound. 

We got the apartment right at the time when real estate was not at its best and so rent even for an apartment like that was more than reasonable. From 2009-2011 we basked in the joys of living in the heart of LA where everything was twenty minutes away, I used a futuristic FOB key to swipe myself in, and where my 2000 Toyota RAV 4 parked next to a Bentley in the basement garage (yes, by the way, parking was included in the rent). It was awesome.

But alas when the time came for our lease to be renewed again, the owners thought that it was about time that they put the place at par to its actual market value. So they notified us that they will be raising the rent by more than 20 percent. Just when we were about to request if they could lower the rent for loyal, good tenants like ourselves, they come at us guns blazing with a price hike. And just like that my roommate and I knew that it was time to move.

Moving apartments meant not just moving spaces, it also meant moving on to a new life. In as dramatic as it sounds, it is actually an end of an era for us. It coincided with a time when my roommate and I just finished grad school and are officially trying to figure out how to make it in Hollywood as filmmakers. 

Gone will be the days when we both knew what's gonna happen next. It's not the easiest of periods for me, but it surely is the most exciting in how ridden it is with uncertainty, competition, joys over the smallest of victories, being aware of random acts of kindness from people you least expect it from, and pleasures over getting a great deal. 

One great deal we found, for example, is the new apartment we moved into. I was really sad to leave the fancy place behind because I knew I might not get as great a place as that. Actually what I was afraid of is that, for the price that we were willing to part with, I expect that we would be would be short of slumming it while we were in this transitional phase. But still we remained optimistic!

Most people actually scoffed at all that we required and what we were willing to pay because it didn't compute: Located in Hollywood, two bedrooms, two baths, and garage parking. But my roommate and I searched and even when it got frustrating, we believed that something great would turn up. 

And is it turns out, we were right. While it was smaller, the building was older, and it didn't have all deluxe amenities the old place had, we found a place that fit all the basic things we wanted (yes parking included), for the price we needed (a thousand dollars less than what the old apartment would have been), and with windows that opened to wonderful LA. It's on the top floor, with high ceilings, bright and airy, in the middle of Hollywood, walking distance to Santa Monica, Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. We love it! 

And the biggest bonus of all: On a clear day, out of our balcony window, our view opens to the Hollywood sign. 

You know what they say about when God closes a door, He opens a window? Well God clearly opened a really spectacular window for us. Quite literally too. The Hollywood sign? Really? That was just an icon in my dreams before, and now, it's right there, in my back yard (Well sort of my backyard). So cool. 

I don't even know why I was so worried about so many things that came with this move. Because if this is any indication, things may not turn out as planned, but things do turn out better. Yep, things are definitely looking up!

                                          The view from my balcony at sunset. Glorious.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Red Carpet

Yesterday was the opening night of a film festival that my film, How To Eat Bacon, got into. It's no Sundance but it's a red carpet event at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard. Never in a million years did I even think that this would be my reality when I was a little girl in Angeles City, Philippines. Needless to say I was excited. There was only one problem: I had no idea what I was going to wear.

This I find is one of the biggest dilemmas of being a female filmmaker. Often I find myself debating as to how I am going to present myself as. I know, I know, it's a little too late for an identity crisis right now. But it is quite a conundrum. You want to look attractive so people approach you but then again you also don't want to look too "girly" (or wear something that's anywhere in the same continent as revealing) or people don't take you seriously and think you're just there for fun.

I wasn't there just for fun. Although I must admit that this photo proves otherwise. )

with Valen Hernandez, a USC Alumna who was born in the Philippines but raised in the US, whose film is also a part of the festival. ) 

I changed twice before landing on an outfit that I thought straddled the balance-- a strapless, A-line number that ended an inch below the knees, and cinched at the waist with a wide belt. I thought it's appropriate both for the event and for the summer weather. My roommate thought it was dressy but professional. Great, representation goals achieved.

At the after-party however, while shouting to get my voice heard over the loud music, I was asked by a cinematographer I just met, for the name of the film that my date (who was standing right next to me chatting with another person) made at the film festival. It took a split-second for what occurred to register in my head. The guy totally assumed I was just here as someone's date and not as a participant in the festival. Man, I should have just worn the dress with a plunging neckline. Clearly it didn't matter that I made an effort to look pro.

The interesting truth is that unless clarified, in this community, people will assume that I am just a girl in a dress. I have been told many times before that the film industry is a boys club of sorts. Yep. Never felt as concrete as it did just then.

Oh well, what are you gonna do? I can complain about it or just understand that this is the reality that I have to deal with and just run with it as best I can.

And so what is a girl to do in a situation like this? With the most feminine of smiles I simply said, "Oh I'm actually the filmmaker. My film will be showing next week. This guy is actually my date." Then I pursed my lips, batted my lashes, and giggled delightfully as I watched the cinematographer blush.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Angel's Bread and Butter

"They can't close the bakeshop because it's their bread and butter," says Ian,  as he laughs at how witty his own pun was. The rest of us in the circle just laughed at how funny he found his own joke to be. He was talking about the plot of the film, Angel's Bread, which he just saw at the Norris Theater in USC. 

Angel's Bread is one of my earlier works, about a struggling cellist who finds inspiration by working in a bakeshop assisting a woman 13 years older than he is. It's a cute little movie about music, pastries, and a May-December affair (which apparently is a term people don't use anymore. According to a friend of mine, the correct modern word to employ is "cougar-ing"). Cougar-ing it is then. 

I find it quite interesting how well Angel's Bread played in this audience. To be perfectly honest, of the two films I screened, I had more faith in How To Eat Bacon as a movie because I thought it was better crafted. When I directed AB I was younger and less experienced. If anything AB made BACON a better film (in my humble opinion) because I learned so much from it. Angel's Bread is also more commercial and formula in concept and execution. 

However people kept coming up to me after the screening saying how much they enjoyed AB--some saying more than BACON, in fact. The consensus is that they had a great time watching it. I guess part of the reason is that BACON is a movie that is very taste-specific. While smartly written (I didn't write it), clever in concept, and visually appealing, its comedy leans towards absurd if not irreverent, and so, of course, it will not appeal to everyone. 

Meanwhile AB is just easy, breezy, and fun as a story. Just goes to show that really sometimes a formula is a formula because it works. People like them. And that just because something is mainstream it shouldn't be discounted.  In fact to use Ian's words, I shouldn't close the "bakeshop" for movies like AB just yet (or even at all), because movies like these just might become my bread and butter in the future. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

First Look: Angel's Bread and How to Eat Bacon

I am pleased to report that two of my films at USC will be screening today, Saturday, April 16, 2011, at the USC Norris Theater at 5PM. This is for First Film (the festival formerly called First Look). The films are Angel's Bread and How To Eat Bacon. Both are showing in the same screening block. It would be so awesome if you can come and watch them and vote for How To Eat Bacon for the audience award. The audience award winner will screen at the Director's Guild of America a week later.

There will also be other films in my block that I am certain you will enjoy as well. Check out what's showing: First Look Screening 3

Plus of course in the great USC tradition, there will be a reception after the screening. 

While it is not required, it would be great if you can RSVP at First Look RSVP. Admission is free.

Norris Theater is located at 3551 Trousdale Pkwy Los Angeles
For the map and more detailed directions on how to get there please click on this link: Norris

So come and join the fun!!!