MANILA – “This movie requires nudity. Are you ready for it?”
These were the pertinent questions director Erik Matti immediately asked all of the cast who answered the call for auditions for his steamy romantic drama, “A Girl and A Guy,” Upstream Originals’ first offering to stream at from June 24.
“In general, we knew we wanted an ensemble movie, guided by ‘A Girl and A Guy’,” Matti told ABS-CBN News. “The first requirement I had, I wanted everyone to be different from each other.
“If it’s a sample of girls, what kind of girl?” Sensual, beautiful, matapang ang mukha, charming, supladita. I did the same choosing the guys.
Matti went through a long audition process, in lots of men and women. “I think I got old and didn’t want to face, ang haba na ng latag mo and then you end up with someone saying ‘no’.
“There were actors who easily asked, ‘What can we see, Direk? What can the public see? Then I tell them, “You just have to let me do it. I don’t want to go in a set and when I started blocking, ‘Ay, dapat pala hindi ko makita ang puwet niya. Paano kaya ito? Dapat pala nakahiga na lang siya. ‘
“I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I have to adjust what I had in mind in favor of what has been pre-approved by someone else. By the manager, the actor, the studio that enlisted the actor. I wanted to be clear on this. “
After the auditions, Matti and his team went into assigning characters to actors. At first, the director saw his actors play two or three roles until he found himself with a good mix.
Nudity, however, is nothing new to Matti. In his directorial debut, “Scorpio Nights 2” (1999), starring Joyce Jimenez, Matti bravely dealt with nudity.
His other films starring Rica Peralejo in “Dos Ekis” (2001) and Sunshine Cruz in “Ekis: Wang Tatakas” (1999) also dealt with sensitive and sensual scenes.
“I’ve had a lot of movies where there was nudity,” Matti admitted. “The kind of tension, when you get on set, was really, really tough. More than someone jumping off the roof of a seven story building, my hirap to start a kapag ikaw ang director sex scene.
“There is a lot to think about. You want people to be on their terms. Ayaw mong ma-tense ang tao or ma-conscious. In ‘A Girl and A Guy’ I’m surprised at how ready the actors are for the movie, with what is expected of them.
“I also wanted for films in general in the Philippines, to be more relaxed by showing the skin, by showing the nudity.
“Parang naiwan na tayo in the dark ages. Parang swim tita na lahat de tao. Makakita ng cleavage, of course. Hindi na ‘yun uso ngayon. I think we need to let go of the stigma of people taking their clothes off. “
Fortunately, “A Girl and A Guy” released its director, in a way. “Not just because I felt there were no rules in the making of the film,” he said. “I always wanted to make a film with kaliwang lang ba ang lumabas or kalahaing puwet lang ba ang nakita breasts?
“If it’s necessary in the story, why can’t we show it? Yes, more on the fact na marami siyang bold, because there are really a lot of them, I think you will be surprised to see, when you see the film, how important it is throughout the film, to be the more carefree possible with the way we look at the new generation, which is the cast. “
Matti was pleased with how well his actors bonded on set during filming. “Even though most of them didn’t really know each other from the start. I’m glad they bonded because it shows in the movie.
“I wanted to put myself in a situation where I put myself to work and it’s just a matter of work. Lang from Trabaho. There is nudity, okay, ‘Take off your clothes.’ Put towels on it. Let’s get ready. I’ll block it. This is how this scene will unfold. Now let’s take it.
“Ang laking bagay na hindi ka nate-tense or na-excuse me para lang maging kumportable lahat.”
Certainly, Matti learned a lot by completing “A Girl and A Guy”, congratulating the cast and the production crew on his latest film project.
“Ganito pala ka-relaxed kung, everyone is just there to do the job,” he said. “When you have actors ready and committed to their roles, ang laking bagay na nagta-trabaho lang kayo together.
“You get more suggestions from them. “They will ask you: What do you want me to do, Direk?” Because everyone is in a good position just before the cameras roll. “
“A Girl and A Guy” is not soft porn, Matti said. “They can’t describe it until they see it. I think they owe it to the actors. We thought long and hard about what kind of nudity we have in the movie and the reality of it all.
” Nothing is free. In the movement me too now, we are pretty clear that we are not only going to show the male gaze or the female body only. We will do it at all levels to be fair to everyone
“Before that, alam natin how hard it is to do that. Here we were released. We did what had to be done according to the script, whether it was a man or a woman going in.
Matti is ready for the negative comments and backlash his latest film will encounter. “I have never made a film which is not polarizing”, he underlined. “Some people didn’t like the violence of ‘Buy Bust’. Some people found my other films that they didn’t like.
“I hope they all give ‘A Girl and A Guy’ a chance. Let them see him for what he’s trying to talk about. The current situation. We are quite proud of this.
In today’s Generation Z, you have to learn and understand the meaning of being “fluent”. Because nowadays, millennials don’t look at the genre anymore.
Matti’s “A Girl and A Guy” is all about fluidity. “In part of the movie you’re going to see how they handle such an experience,” Matti said. “Maybe I’m for a same-sex partner or maybe I’m the opposite sex. This was also discussed.
Interestingly, the film’s female stars Candace Ramos and Sarah Holmes agreed to be fluid because the genre is always a never-ending debate. “Along with exploration there is also education, the development of gender studies,” Ramos said.
“I’m constantly exploring and experimenting with what I really want,” Holmes offered.
In the past, Matti has always delivered films with social relevance, like “On The Job”, “Honor Thy Father”, “Buy Bust”. “A Girl and A Guy” shows what this generation has become, featuring the brightest young actors who have shown exemplary commitment to their craft. Alexa Miro as Fiona and Rob Gomez as Raf star.
He’s an introvert who tries to figure things out on his own. He wonders a lot about its existence. With each relationship, he gets lost in the process. Yet he is learning.
Meanwhile, she’s a go-getter, a very charming goal hunter, a budding writer and director who knows what she wants.
“A Girl and A Guy” was filmed in Baguio, when the lockdown eased. They obtained permits for several cities where they could shoot. The type of test the cast and crew had to undergo was a major consideration for the shoot.
“We used Baguio people in the crowd scenes and we tested them all,” Matti revealed. “We had a party scene, office scenes. Lahat ‘yun involved PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests for everyone.
Creatively, during the filming of the film, Matti groped around in the dark to give a full picture of the kind of generation he was working with.
“I think they are the sample of the generation I wanted to talk about in the movie,” he said. “I had all of these ideas based on the research I did, but on set I had to lean on them because I needed a more real reaction to certain situations that I just wanted to get out of my way. actors by applying it to their characters. ‘Yun ang pinakamahirap.
“’Buy Bust’, I know how a drug dealer kills a policeman or how a policeman goes on a raid. ‘On The Job’, alam ko na how killers get out of prison. I know how they would react. I know when they get mad.
“Surprisingly, in ‘A Girl and A Guy’ the hardest part is understanding the psychology of this generation. Ang laki ng hiningi ko sa actors asking them to hold my hand in the way I would describe each of their characters. Sobrang ganda ng nuance. I love it.”
Matti wrote the screenplay for “A Girl and a Guy” in June 2019. “Hindi ko naman naisip talaga that this movie will finally be produced,” he said. “I just wanted to put it on paper ‘yung gusto kong sabihin.”
Drawing inspiration from his two daughters to work on the screenplay proved to be helpful for Matti. Nik Makino’s “Neneng B” has even been suggested to be used as music.
“I was looking at my two daughters and I couldn’t understand them both. The generation now exists in a world totally different from the one we know. You will see it in the film, with how comfortable everyone is physically.
“When I wrote this in June or July 2019, we went to Mindoro. Of course the script I was talking about was where I wrote all my thoughts down and then relayed them to a real writer [Anj Pessumal].
“After that, no one was really interested. I was finishing ‘On The Job 2’, although hindi ko pa naman kailangan ‘yun. I was getting ready for the HBO movie. Then we resumed work in July of last year.
“Thanks to Upstream.ph, we have started to think about what we can do to launch the Upstream Original. By the way, I mentioned the script I wrote.
The hard part about “A Girl and A Guy” is that it’s an ensemble piece. “With this pandemic, hindi siya isang bahay, dalawang tao,” said Matti. “There are a lot of places, a lot of characters. Everyone enters the life of the other. So it’s hard to do during the pandemic.
“The screenplay was written for Manila and we had to rewrite it, involving a provincial town. The setting was in Baguio, but we didn’t name it Baguio. At the same time, I said it would be dishonest not to include the pandemic in history.
“So we did a major rewrite in the middle of the movie, when the pandemic happened. It made the whole movie even better. Mainly because the pandemic was from the point of view of Gen Z, which is a pretty choppy generation. This gave the script a lot more nuance. Papa Napaganda.
“A Girl and A Guy,” Matti insisted, is not a romantic comedy. “I wanted to explore this younger side that I haven’t yet explored. At the film level, it’s also a way of showing everyone what can be done other than boy meets girl, girl meets boy, parents disapprove of. They are separating. They see each other a year later.
“We take a lot of perspective on the fact that we have to relax about the kind of relationship movies we’re making. I hope there is another side that we can present. We could gravitate towards this idea as something real and they can relate to it. “