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3 Invaluable Lessons from Whammy Alcazaren | go! | Globe

Making Big Moves with Whammy Alcazaren

Three invaluable lessons straight from the film director and production designer

The sophomore season of Portraits, in many ways, is dedicated to the daring. It’s a love letter to those who dare to dream. But beyond inspiration, what the series hopes to impart in its five-part documentary short is the will to overcome, to try something new and to make big moves. Things that award-winning film director, writer and producer Whammy Alcazaren is more than familiar with.

The third time’s a charm for Alcazaren. Following a five-year hiatus from directing, he sprung back on the scene not only with a new movie, but a concept yet to be explored here: a feature film shot entirely on a mobile phone. His 2018 film Never Tear Us Apart, given the risk and format he used that strayed from tradition, was a hit at the 14th  Cinema One Originals film festival and made a sweep on awards night. Alcazaren and his team went home with trophies for Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Jury Prize and Best Director. Not too shabby for the first mobile-oriented film in the Philippines shot entirely on an iPhone X.

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As Portraits season two kicks off with this daring industry disruptor and game changer, here’s an opportunity to get to know three invaluable life lessons Whammy Alcazaren has learned since making his big move.

Embrace the Material

“I have always believed that a film should come from the heart. When you do a film, as director or a crew member, you have to believe in what you are doing. As all art forms, a film should have a purpose in whatever measure of the word. You have to embrace the material. You have to want to share the film with your chosen audience.”

Trust the Process

“When we did Never Tear Us Apart, we grounded ourselves on the idea that we wanted to do something new [though] the idea of shooting films using only an iPhone has recently been gaining steam. We built on this and shot with a vertical aspect ratio and placed upon ourselves other rules for shooting. For example, we didn’t show the characters’ faces. In doing this, the crew and I were very much aware that we were treading [on] largely unknown territory. But in doing something different, you just have to trust the process. It’s the beauty of doing something that hasn’t been done before—there is the excitement of endless possibilities.”

Just Have Fun

“I had been waiting to do this film for many of the last few years. There was always the pressure of what other people would think and my expectations of myself in doing this. But shooting in the phone allowed us to do things that a normal film camera wouldn’t allow. There is of course its pros and cons. But much is lost when you dwell on the uncertain. At the end of the day, you build on an experience by having fun. A film is its most honest self when it is done with love.”

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Words Nicole Blanco Ramos

Photography Karen de la Fuente

Art Alex Lara