Your upcoming movie Certified Dead - in a few words, what is it
is a dark drama with a simple yet complex story of real emotions that face us on
a daily basis. Meet Ian Lee, an ordinary man in his 50s. He has most things
that a man would want in life: a beautiful wife, a lovely cute 4 year old
daughter, a good job, a house and a car, with a fear of growing old and not
being there for his young family. Meet Megan, a beautiful woman, married too
young and a mother of a 4 year old who realizes she is unhappy in a lonely
sexless marriage with a husband who is always obsessed with work and exercise.
And there is Ian’s boss, Hilary, sensual, powerful, scorned by her own
husband. She knows what she wants and she wants Ian Lee.
Finally meet the sinister, manipulative childhood doctor friend of Ian
Lee who would stop at nothing to achieve his ambitions.
What were your inspirations for writing Certified Dead?
was happily living life when I was suddenly hospitalized in succession for
a minor stroke and Bell’s Palsy. It is really scary when you feel
helpless looking into the mirror and see your face lopsided and having no
control of it. I do not want
to wait till I am no longer mobile to do things which are important to me.
I realize a lot of people are that way and that procrastination is a way
of life. I thought Certified Dead could be that catalyst that would make
people stop and think.
your movie tackles big themes like death and redemption - how do you
approach these, what can you tell us about the tone of your movie?
want the movie to represent through events and emotions that touch us when
major events happen in our lives. In the movie, Ian the lead character
went through hell when he found out that he is dead. He was in self
denial, something that patients of terminal diseases often go through.
There is this “why me phase“. For those who can cry, tears are often a
release from the pent up grief.
talk about your directorial approach to your subject at hand for a bit!
most cases, it is an explain-the-situation and then allow the actor to
build his or her own character, behavior, quirks, style of dialogue etc.
But some of my cast are inexperienced or may not have faced a
certain event in life to be able to portray the necessary emotions, it
helps when I act through the part with them and show them how I want it
done. I often sit down with my
lead cast and talk about something which had touched them in their lives
and I start crying with them, when they are good and ready, we roll the
far as I now, you will also appear in front of the camera in Certified
Dead - so what can you tell us about your character, and did you write
her with yourself in mind?
no, the cameo I play is such a small part. It is just slightly more than
an extra with a oneliner. It almost got written off but then another
scene had a role that may be suitable and so I stepped in. For Certified
Dead, my only wish is to stay behind the camera and see the characters
come to life. I played the cameo cause I just thought it is the right
thing to do
What can you tell us about
the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Hadrievic Chua, my leading man has been in more than 200 productions and
he is at the right age and with the kind of EQ required to carry off the
character of Ian. In fact, the film being 80% done, he has shown that I
had not made a mistake to cast him. Vanessa
Adrienne Aguirre Tan is a
delightful young woman, charming and with a great range of emotions. She
reminds me a little of myself. She gets into character easily, especially
that of a young mother and the chemistry she has with her 4 year old
onscreen daughter, Shayleigh Koh.
hearing about nightmares of working with children and animals, she is the
kind of child that can put a professional actor to shame. She is on time,
on cue and a regular trooper. We sometimes film from early morning to late
nights and she runs around high-fiving everyone after each take.
other leading lady, Toni Ravelo, is probably the least I have to worry
about. She needs the least direction and surprises me each scene how she
carries it so well. She is really an accomplished actress.
Richard Muru, who plays the antagonist - I have so much respect for him as a fine actor.
Having worked together with Michael on other films, their on-screen
chemistry and characters are so believable for 2 childhood friends.
far as I know, you're still raising funds for Certified Dead - so
what can you tell us about your fundraising efforts?
are doing an Indiegogo campaign. Unfortunately the response isn’t
encouraging. We made some mistakes like accidentally putting a stretch
goal as the objective. What I really hope to raise is just for the post
production. We have done 9
without much problem but a feature length is a whole new situation.
In order to make it ready for the big screen, we need to send it to a
professional lab, do the color coding, sound, effects, and DCP.
have to date used whatever resources I have to pay for the food and
equipment. I received some money from a couple of corporate sponsors but
it will not be enough to see us through to the end so I am still asking around. And
asking all my friends for a favour, for even a Dollar contribution. This
is such a humbling learning experience as people whom I do not know well
came to my aid while people close to me turned a deaf ear. But this is
life and it will help me write a better script for the future.
have already started shooting Certified Dead though, right? A few
words about the shoot so far? And how would you describe yourself as a
shoot only weekends as everyone holds a weekday job.
This is another humbling experience that so many people are
passionate enough to sacrifice their time every weekend in order to finish
the film. We have done 80% or 30 days of full day filming. It is 15 weeks
or almost 4 months of going without an off day.
just want to emulate the late Bobby Suarez, my director, mentor. He taught
me a lot of what I know. As a director, make each castmember look and do good on
film and you have a good film. I leave a lot of technical worries to my ADs who are simple wonderful in spotting bad lighting or if a boom drops
Any idea when
and where the movie might be released onto the general public yet?
by 1st quarter of 2016 if we have raised enough funds for the
future projects beyond Certified Dead?
main long term objective is to resurrect Cleopatra
Wong, something which
Bobby Suarez wanted to do but died before he could.
But a more immediate consideration would be to rewrite Rene, a
thriller short which I wrote and directed before Certified Dead into a
feature length. The link to watch is here
A lot actually rides on the outcome of Certified Dead.
movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
am looking for parties who are keen to help out on this project or future
ones. I still need a great
editor with good EQ for Certified Dead. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you think there is any scope for a collaboration.
for the interview!