Writing a novel is hard enough. Adapting it into film is an entirely different monster. To me, at least. The process, for me, was complicated. That’s why I said “no” when I was offered the job of writing the first draft. I told the prince point-blank from the start that I'm not a script guy.
My script experience is: totally fuck-all. I wrote for a children's TV show a while ago and that was it.
That was the fucking extent of my filmography.
I was then living in a Kamias dorm, a square windowless room but with good ventilation. Not a bad deal compared to being homeless. The prince's folks owned the building and I got to stay in a relatively spacious room. I had no private toilet and I had to use the dorm's common toilet. But what the hell. You can't have everything in this world.
The deal was not really clear. A series of verbal agreements over bottles of beer. And that was it. I got to stay in the dorm, and in return, the prince would adapt my novel into film. And I was supposed to develop a website for him. That was part of the deal.
The prince lives in the dorm, too, a couple of rooms away. I was practically living next door to the prince.
Our mutual friend, a well-respected author, was supposed to write the script. But the guy's so fucking busy he relegated the task to one of his students. That student, whom I won't name here, for writing a bad script and to not even know it is bad enough, took a while to finish the thing. Fuck. It took him fucking ages.
To fill our days, while waiting for the fucking script, we decided to shoot a short-film version, starring Marvin Agustin, a mainstream actor.
Before the novel, there was a short story.
When I was living in Malabon with my psychotic ex-wife a few years back, I wrote a short story. This would be the basis for the “Mondomanila” novel, which at that time didn’t yet exist. I wrote the novel as a kind of practice for an upcoming UP workshop. And out of boredom, too.
The short story was another story.
The prince and I decided to use the short story.
So we brainstormed and came up with a short-film script based on the “Mondomanila” short story. The prince rounded up his motley crew and started the pre-production.
That was my first time to work with industry people.
I can never understand how this fucking industry works. Writing a book is much simpler. I work alone. But with movies, you work with a lot of people.
A lot of people equals a lot of shit.
Take the producer, for example. I have no idea what the producer does. Does he produce the film? What the fuck does that mean “produce the film?” For sure he’s not going to be the one operating the camera, otherwise he’d be the cameraman, right? So does producing mean financing? What the fuck? I never asked any of the crew about the producer’s role. I figured I’d learn a lot of shit as we went along.
The prince was able to get hold of a mainstream actor to play the role of Tony, the major character.
And one day, there we were. Shooting the film. The whole Kamias dorm parking lot was transformed into a studio. Vim Nadera was there for a cameo. I did a cameo, too, just one scene, shot in the prince’s parents’ house, beside the big aquarium.
That was the day I realized I can never be an actor. I can’t fucking act. Period.
That fucking scene took several takes because of my inability to act.
And to think that all I had to do was pretend to be Tony’s best friend. Tony and I were supposed to be stoned to our tits, and laughing our asses off while watching the fishes inside the fucking aquarium. That’s it. Not even a single fucking dialogue.
I didn’t have to act actually. Just be myself. I was already stoned most of the time anyway and a drag away from a laughing trip at any moment. The scene would have been peanuts.
I fucking do that shit in real life. Come to think of it. That’s pretty much all I did back then: get stoned, watch an old film, do the muchies, then come the giggles.
But in front of the camera, I couldn’t do shit. I don’t know why. Marvin the actor must have been really pissed at me for stretching that scene into several takes.
As if I gave a shit about his feelings.
Finally, I managed to laugh, but only because I was really, really stoned.
When the prince yelled “Cut!” for the last time, I was relieved. Job was done. I was free to go. I didn’t stick around to watch the rest of the movie being shot.
What a fucking day that was. I went back to my room and smoked weed.
By the way, we weren’t smoking real weed during the shoot. Just pretend leaves that smelled like shit and burned your throat. Marvin, the actor, couldn’t fucking handle the real thing.
I went back to my room and smoked real kush weed until I fell asleep.