Sunday, March 21, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010


What was your favorite film you’ve worked on: This is like asking a

mother which her favorite child is. Sunshine state had a knock out

production team and we were living on the beach in Florida. On

Matewan I really felt like we were bring history to life. I liked

living in Alaska on Limbo and in Louisianna. This is one of the best

experiences yet, certainly the most exotic, and I’m loving the

Filipino actors. There’s a kind of creative hands-on spirit that’s

fun to be around. The Filipino’s aren’t afraid of hard work. It feels

like the films we were making in the early 80’s.

I’ve heard that this film should take 12 weeks instead of 6: It

should take 15 weeks and $60 million, but the crew is efficient and

we own all the land so we don’t have to worry about distractions.

John said it’s the first time since Ireland that we can shoot 360

degrees and shoot all day. It’s like we’re in a studio except and the

trees and mud are real.

What qualities make a good producer? You have to be able to listen

and act, suss out wuickly the lay of the land, deal with the people,

the contract. You have to come off as tough and loving, which is

different than tough love. It helps to work on a movie you love, so

then the sacrifices you make are in service to that vision. It also

helps to have a responsible director. It would be much harder if

you’re making some dopey comedy or a slasher. You have to feel a

sense of purpose.

How long does it take to produce a John Sayles film? We started in

June 2009, so just about a year. This one was fairly quick.

What are the challenges specific to Baryo? It’s far away from home,

so its bound to be different. It a foreign language, there are major

cultural differences, but challenge isn’t necessarily a negative

word. In some ways that’s what’s meaningful

Monday, February 22, 2010

John Sayles on Writing Part 1

EA - How do you make stylistically convincing dialogue for multiple characters set in a different time period, for example where does "Let's keep the wire singing" come from?

JS - You have to read a lot, not from biographies or historians writing at a later date, but primary sources. I read a lot of diaries and try to find good writers from the time period. I actually read a lot of Mark Twain for this find phrases they used, some of which don't make any sense nowadays. For instance, "take off," like to tell someone to "take off" didn't come out until after World War II, because planes weren't that common before. You have to pay attention to that. And then you go back and say the lines again and again until it sounds right.

EA - Are any of the characters based on the journal authors?

JS - A lot of the soldiers are compilations of the soldiers I read about in many diaries. More specifically Chris Cooper's (Colonel Hardacre) is based on an actual Colonel named Hellroarin' Jacob Smith. Liutenant Compton's character is based on a volunteer officer, which would have been one of the better educated Americans who came to the Philippines for...glory or something. They eventually had to choose to go home or sign up as an officer. Compton's plays one of those men who begins to pick his head up and see what's going on. Rafael is based on any of the 100,000 or Filipino mayors who suffered by being caught between the American's and the rebels.

EA - When you're starting a new story, do you see the whole arc and then fill in the middle, or do you start with characters, or a concept...

JS - In most of my movies I see the whole arc - I know the ending, I know where I want the stories and the characters to end up and work from there. The one exception was Lonestar, in which I knew it was going to be "who shot the sheriff," Chris Cooper's father in the film, but I didn't know who did it.

EA - Are there any characters that you don't want the audience to empathize with?

JS - There are some in this movie that the audience may not like, but most undergo some transformation that makes them human. These are characters like Padre Hidalgo, who is kind of Machivellian, kind of the Iago of the village, but who eventually apologizes for what he did...It's important to know how the audience feels about each character and the plot and to try to steer them in a certain direction.

Billy Tango On Being A Young Actor

Billy “Bilippines” Tangradi

Character: Dutch Dortmunder

How he got into acting: Billy’s acting career began as a hyperactive 8 year old with a ventriloquist. “I was in a 3rd grade talent show. Once I realized I was sitting in front of an audience laughing at my jokes I was hooked. I kept acting through elementary school, high school – I was always hanging out with the older actors. If I was 10 I was hanging out with 17 year old actors.”

Billy’s career became more serious when he great uncle, a preist oblate, founded a theatre program in his hometown of Allentown, PA, and later at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

How he got his first union job: A classmate became a manager and asked him to audition. Billy got a 5 line part in Law and Order Criminal Intent, but waited to join the union. “After your second union job you have to join (and pay $2000) or you can’t work…It wasn’t an easier once I was a SAG actor but it was a right of passage…it was a confirmation that acting is not a hobby, I was a real actor…but SAG has almost 70,000 actors, only about 1500 are working.”

On moving to New York: I chose New York over Los Angeles because its closer, and I had older classmates that had already moved to New York. It was only an hour and a half from family. Also I still wanted to do New York theatre, but it’s a really small community that’s able to make it in theatre.

How Billy made it to Baryo: “ I got a call from my agent about a John Sayles movie. I knew the pedigree of his work – I was shocked. Here’s what really happened, the casting director said they want young actors and what they got at the audition were Twilight actors. They told the casting director they didn’t want models, they wanted characters, so they went down the second tier agents and that’s where I came in. I got the part but I still feels like I’m double-A when everyone else is in the majors.

Will Baryo change anything? “I don’t know, maybe this will get picked up in Toronto [Film Festival] and get at least art house distribution, maybe it will win awards, you never know, maybe something will happen. Hopefully someone will see my face and say, ‘We want Bill Tangradi,’ but even then, you have to keep at it. In this business it never stops, you’ve never ‘made it’, you have to maintain…essentially you are a can of coke – you have managers, agents, business people all trying to sell you, keep you in the conversation. If you get a good agent you can get in through package deals, they may say, ‘you can have Kevin Spacey, but only if you take Dane Dehaan (Gil),’ you hope you can get an agent with that kind of leverage. It’s a very forgetful business.

On being an extra: “I did some extra work on Saturday Night Live, but it was miserable. It’s not bad money and it’s good to get on set, but I’ve always had a feeling I’m going to be a star, so being an extra was just depressing…If you an extra enough time you can collect vouchers, and after a certain number of vouchers you become eligible.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


1st Assistant Director

"I've seen 1st AD's fired for nothing...I've seen a 1st AD have a heart attack on set" ~Yul Vasquez

Duties: Prepares everythign for the director. The main man with all the departments concerned. Make life easier for the director. Coordinate with sound/art director.
"I am the great facilitator."
- Organize the set for the director, if he wants anything make sure its there.
-Telling the camera department what kind of shots
- Handling the crowd
- In this movie there are 3 AD's

What makes a good 1st AD: - Able to adjust to the mood, try to balance things out, if the director is quiet you have to compensate, if he is loud you have to mediate. Try to get people smiling.
"A lot of 1st AD's are assholes. If you can't push you have to shove."
- "I am lucky because I am working with all my friends. That makes things easier."
- Most 1st AD's are very noisy. Sometimes you have to push during crunch time.
- "In this particular movie one of
the concerns is keeping the union actors on schedule. We strictly adhere to those rules. They have to be fed 6 hours after they're called in and that dictates the shooting schedule. We also have to keep track if they're going into overtime. The standard time is 10 hours, including travel."

How he got into the business: "The last movie I did was ages ago. Here in the Philippines I do documentaries, theatres, TV, live performances.

How he got the job: Met John through Mario the editor. Mario and Joel were his students at La Salle University in the Philippines. "We all belong to the same theatre group, so this movie is kind of a reunion for us."
On John Sayles: "It helps a lot if you're director is as organized as John. He's one of the few who is always 5 steps ahead of his crew. He is a master...during the rice paddy shoot it would have been easy to lose your patience - the squibs weren't going off, the weapons weren't firing, everyone was stuck in the mud, but John keeps his cool."

On the weather: Everything weather-wise has happened save for a typhoon.

What he will do next: Go back to old job as a freelance director in theatre and opera, maybe some commercials.

On using the RED Camera instead of 35 mm: It's cheaper to bump it up to 35 mm after than to shoot in 35 mm. A lot of fgeature films are using RED cams but you have to figure out a way to give it the texture and depth of 35 mm. That's why we use the smoke. If you don't do things with smoke or lighting the digital picture is going to look flat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still Waiting

Kenny Guay and Erik getting into character

8:30 AM - leave wardrobe/make-up
9:00 AM - enter standby room
12:00 noon - leave standby room for lunch
1:00 PM - return to standby room
3:30 PM - leave standby room for set
4:15 PM - shoot a marching scene
4:30 PM - return to wardrobe/return to Ladaga

Jan 16th - More Bio's

Jose with Chris Cooper
Conversations with Chris Pt. II.

On working internationally: I always like working abroad. The Bourne Identity was great because we were in France, Russia, Germany. I like being abroad.

Favorite films he's worked on: Lonestar (by John Sayles), Adaptation, American Beauty

What comes after Baryo: On the 21st Chris is leaving for New York where he has to do some publicity event, then the day after he flies to L.A. for the premier of Remember Me. "I really enjoyed working with Robert Pattinson. Robert's a great young guy and the script was practically tailor made for him."

On fame: This is a terribly difficult world for young people, it's rediculous. Robert literally has young girls flying in from Japan because they heard he'd be shooting in public locations around NYU.

On getting into the business: I started getting serious in my 2nd year at University. At 23 I started out in theatre. Everyone has a different little route to get into the business. I made some money in soap operas and regional theatre around the country. I did my first short film with Bobby and Kenny's (Garrison soldiers) Mom at NYU, but I didn't get a feature film until I was 35."

Line Producer
Duties: "NO idea. It's kind of like the general manager. A producer provides resources and a line producer manages those resources. I also do scheduling, budgeting, and manage all of the crucial partnerships, and make all the deals. One of the target results is to finish cost-wise, time-wise, and quality-wise."

How she got the job: Recommended to Joel Torre, the Producer, by another producer.

Her first job in film: studied film at the University of the Philippines, took all the workshops she could get, always actively involved in projects as a director or producer. "My first actual job was as a segment producer for a children's show. It was like Filipino Sesame Street."

What Margie is doing after Baryo: continue with the projects she started before. She is also the owner of Arkeo films. "I'm actually in the middle of financing an art house film with Germany and France. We're still very independent. That's going to occupy me for the next three years. It will be a real test for the company to see if we can make quality cinema in the Philippines.

What does Baryo mean to her career: "This kind of project is once in a lifetime. We don't usually get international projects of this stature."