Editing A Tikoy Aguiluz Film_Manila Kingpin Director’s CutJanuary 4, 2012
As I’ve earlier promised, I’ll relate how it is to edit a Tikoy Aguiluz film. We undergo the same age-old process in film editing— from assembly to rough and fine cutting a film. But here, I’ll go straight to give a fine example of how it goes when we finalize his film. From Manila Kingpin, his latest feature-film, the following is a true account of what happened when we edited, in particular Seq. 7 of Manila Kingpin, described in our script outline as “Fidela jealous, away si Asiong”, shot on Day 6 using video cards numbers 31 and 32… the one scene memorable to the audience because of the acting exaggeration displayed by Jeorge Estregan Jr. in the sequence where he as Asiong Salonga kissed/smacked his wife Fidela 10-11 times. I would like to quote verbatim one of my favorite comments re the scene where Carla Abellana in the role of Fidela first appears onscreen:
“Carla deserves an award for this film after enduring kissing scenes with Gov ER, she SHOULD get an award. She deserves it! She deserves it!!!!” [Comment on I EDITED…see the post dated December 22, 2011]
A day or so after that, our lady boarder told me that she watched the movie. Referring to the above scene, she said: “Tsansing na yun.”
Now, why chose this particular scene??? Simply because this was a problematic sequence and the first in Reel 1 of Manila Kingpin where Tikoy’s reaction really made me laugh. It kept me quite awake until I solved the edit problem it gave me. The first cut or rough cut of this scene by the way, was left untouched by Gov’s expert cutters in the Producer’s Cut. Hindi nila pinaghirapan, di ba?
Anyway, ang sumusunod na eksena ay totoong nangyari:
EDITING ROOM. SCENEMA CONCEPT BLDG 5TH FLR. GABI [Madaling-Araw na pala sabi ng aking Starbucks planner].
October 8. Huling araw sa Fine Cutting ng Director’s Cut. Karag na kami dahil sa paghahabol nito para sa Berlin Film Festival. Dahil matagal nang aprub ang opening scene [Asiong-Viray], mabilis ang naging usad. Pagdating sa Seq.7, eksena na kung saan unang makikita ang galit na si Carla Abellana na gumanap na Fidela nang dumating si Asiong, at hinalik-halikan siya ng 10-11 beses, napapalatak at napahampas si Tikoy ng kanang kamay sa kanyang noo, sabay ang sabing: “Naku Mirana! Pagtatawanan tayo nito sa ibang bansa!” Sympre natawa ako. OA naman talaga ang dating e. “O sige matulog ka muna,” ang sabi ko. Humiga si Tikoy sa sofa habang nagbabawas ako ng mga halik ni Asiong kay Fidela. Makailang sandali, ginambala ko si Tikoy. “Tingnan mo! Baka pwede na,” sabi ko. “Ilan na?” tanong nya. “Anim na lang,” sabi ko. Umupo sa harap ng computer at pinanood uli ni Tikoy ang eksena. “Marami pa rin,” aniya napapailing. “Tulog ka uli,” sabi ko naman. Nag-isip akong mabuti kung paano lulusutan dahil wala talagang pang-insert para makadaya at makatulong sa paglutas ng continuity problem. Dahil wala sa mga good takes ang anumang panlusot dito, puzzling para sa akin kung paano sosolusyunan ang problema. Ayoko naman magdissolve-dissolve; o mag magfade in and out na walang dahilan tulad ng karaniwang ginagawa ng mga trailer editors. Tulad yung eksena sa tulay nang mamatay si Asiong hanggang sa funeral scene?? Paepek lang ang nangyari. Trailer na trailer ang dating. Uncalled for transition device!!! Senseless!! Hindi pinag-isipan!
Nang hindi kayang lusutan, hinalukay ko uli ang lahat ng takes. “Eureka!” May nakita ako sa NG [not good] materials. Kinuha ko, inedit hanggang finally, tatlo na lang ang halik ni Asiong sa eksena. Ginising ko uli si Tikoy para panoorin nya. Tumahimik ang Tikoy, tandang okey na sa kanya. Tawanan kami pagkatapos. FADE OUT. Next scene……..
The above is a typical example on how to finalize a Tikoy Aguiluz film. From time immemorial, it has always been like that. He watches. Tells me how he feels, or what he thinks is the problem. I am left to solve it without being told how to do it. Leaving me alone to solve a creative problem has always been a challenge. Since I know generally his tastes, and our creative instincts jibe and are nearly similar, we do not usually take time in judging whether a scene should be deleted or not. We discuss and brainstorm to always make a scene better. We do not think of producers when we work. The film is always above anyone else.
Background on how to edit a Tikoy’s film. It is never Tikoy’s practice to sit down with me while editing his film especially in the rough or first cutting of his movie. That’s how confident Tikoy is when I handle his film. E bakit naman hindi? As early as the writing stage, I am already a part of his team, at times even during the writing of the premise or even before the story goes to the scriptwriter. Then, I always pre-edit the script, which means I already delete unnecessary scenes, and/or dialogues; works/discusses/brainstorms with him and the writer, and if the latter is cooperative and open-minded like Rey Ventura the work gets done faster. I also help in the structural study of the sequences in timeline form as we graphically see how the story will flow, a practice I adopted from Bagong Bayani days [see below]
I even draw thumbnail sketches, imagining scenes from the script to make storyboards, like the one shown below to serve as Tikoy’s guide, to remind him of the shots that we need. They are all subject to his final decision of course when actually shooting the scene on the set. Whether he would shoot them as in the storyboard is always his call. It is a take it or leave it proposition. They are just suggestions from my part since I am not on the set and I do not know the physcial or geographical problems the storyboard may present. The storyboard only serve as guide. Tulad baga ng map?…[Binayaran ba ako ng hiwalay sa mga gawaing ito? Hindi!!!]
For those who have already watched the film, some of the actions on the storyboard [highlighted in yellow color] were implemented.
So, I am not one who is just thrown in the circle to destroy somebody else’s dream film. I help create, solve continuity problems, give suggestions to better a scene, help improve, and collaborate to make a good film but I never destroy other’s original concept or film. I respect, recognize, accept comments, and implement valid suggestions, all for the betterment of Tikoy’s film, all for film’s sake. It is because, I believe that film making is a collaborative effort. That his film, is also my film, so better do it well.
Tikoy comes in when I am ready, or when I call him midway in the cutting stage when I believe he should be there, especially when more sequences are scheduled to be shot to show or explain the additional inserts that are lacking. Our SOP is for him to come when the rough cutting of the sequences are all done; especially so, in the fine cutting stage when his final creative decisions are needed.
So, may idea na kayo paano kami magtrabaho? Although Tikoy saw the above sequence during the rough cut viewing session, and did not react — which then meant it was ok with him; it didn’t mean though that that was the end of it. We always have the semi-fine cut, and ‘final’ fine cutting session. Semi-fine cutting is the phase where we still keep what we think are necessary. We brainstorm on what should be kept. Fine cutting is where brutal editing is employed, the phase when we have to to throw away a whole sequence or sequences because of length requirements without sacrificing the story flow and fluidity. It used to be our practice to show it to people close to us for their reactions, like Tikoy’s wife Minky, or key members of the production team, or those who will give their honest opinion re the film before even showing it to the producer. Valid comments are incorporated. I don’t know why but the practice never happened in Manila Kingpin. I never saw Minky around, our most believable and honest critic.
In Manila Kingpin, it was in fact unbelievable, [or should I say, a stupid act?] that when I arranged for Tikoy to watch the rough cut [2hr30min since it included all the sequences that they shot] on big screen, the line producer called a barangay of I dunno who to watch it, when the viewing’s purposes were just to check whether boom mics or wires were in the frame, or a production crew member was having a peek at the shoot, to check on the flow of the scenes, and to double check if there were still problem with continuity of physical action as we might not have noticed them on the computer screen, etc. The strict order of Tikoy even then was not followed — to limit the very first viewing to him and the producers only. By then, I could already sense that there was something wrong going on.
After editing the Director’s Cut, I did not show up anymore to work on the Producer’s Cut because I knew that what they wanted were quite contrary to the DC version. I did not want to be a cutter. I am not a producer’s robot. And I won’t get paid for that anyway. That I knew. I can work WITH them up to a certain extent but to tell me what to do, where, how to edit. Di ko yata kaya yun. Because I have enough respect for myself as an editor who knows, applies and destroys the principles of editing if and when necessary…IF and WHEN NECESSARY, I repeat. I do not edit just for effects sake, or use devices suitable for trailers and wedding films. Otherwise, GO! GO! GO! EDIT IT YOURSELF! You need cutters without minds of their own. For in cases like this, walking out will be my scenario. I’ve done that before…
By the way, I am Miranamedina, the editor of the Director’s Cut referred to by Gov. ER na mabagal daw ang pagkaedit sa Manila Kingpin kaya inantok ang manonood dahilan kaya daw pinalitan ako ng mas magagaling!!! [Read: i-edited-tikoys-directors-cut-of-manila-kingpin-slow-paced-daw-talaga] Ang galing nga! Ang galing maglagay ng hindi dapat ilagay dahilan sa pagkawala ng consistency ng action ni Asiong Salonga tulad ng paluhod luhod na drama nya. Ang corny! Ang galing nga! Ang galing sa pagsira ng konsepto ni Tikoy! Nasaan na ang floating soul na ideya niya. Alam nyo ba yun? Nagputol nang nagputol nang walang dahilan. Nang hindi ginagamit ang isip. Nalito nga sa bartolina scene e. Obvious. Siyanga pala, ilang percent ang ginawa nila o contribution sa re-edited version? Sige nga, hamunin ko kayo, Manila Kingpin producers, laluna ka na Ms. Maylyn, mahilig ka sa percentage2. So, percentage-wise, ilan ang ni-reedit nila vis-a-vis ours? Pag sinabing ni-reedit, yung iniba talaga pag edit ha? Yung hindi nagbawas ng crane o panning shots lang, o nagtanggal ng crucial shots para makatulong sa pagbuild up ng eksena. O nagfade to black lang. Yung edit lang talaga nila tulad ng gunfight scene na may paso??? Sa kanila yun. At yung may pag iyak iyak ni Gov kanila din yun. Ano pa ba? Ang itreat na trailer ang buong pelikula! That’s their biggest contribution – kaso biggest contribution din pagtanggal ng nuances sa pelikula. Ay naku! Truck-truck na bigas pa kakainin nyo! Ha!Ha!
Sign the online petition to release the Director’s Cut!