My final entry for Machete Maidens unleashed covers the Philippines & Singapore.
Following our first nights sleep in Manila, we drove out to the house of Eddie Romero to interview him. Eddie is an important figure in both our documentary and Filipino filmmaking. He’s a living legend and is highly respected everywhere in the world. In the past, Eddie had directed films for Roger Corman and his interview gave some valuable insight into the Corman approach to filmmaking. After the interview, we had a chance to roam around the streets of Manila for the first time. The Crew took the opportunity to do some shopping and sight seeing. The next day, we drove for about 2 hours into deepest darkest Manila. The driver actually got lost at one point in a very poor section of Manila. Finally we ended up at the house of Eddie Nicart. Eddie Nicart is a Director/ Stunt Actor who produced a film staring a very small Filipino Actor named Weng Weng among other films. The film “For your height only”, was a popular success in the Philippines and premiered at the 1st ever Manila International Film Festival held at the newly built Film Center in Manila in 1982. We visited this Centre later that day to discover that it is almost in ruins. The building has a very sad history. During its construction, it was the scene of a terrible accident. The documentary covers this in detail.
Having completed all the possible interviews for that day, we resumed some more sight seeing. This time, we were taken to the old Spanish walled city within Manila. Manila has a fascinating history which I really implore you to read about. I had no idea for instance that the Philippines was a colony of the United States! In 1898 the Battle of Manila Bay saw the beginning of a terrible war (Philippine-American War) that lasted for years and was responsible for the deaths of millions. Actually the Philippines have been occupied by the Spanish (1581-1898), The British (1762-1764), The Americans (1898-1942), The Japanese (1942-1945) and have only been allowed to rule themselves since 1946! Our documentary deals with another important time frame – the Marcos era and martial law (1965-1986). Without a doubt, the Philippines and particularly Manila has an amazing history. Our final act for the day was to walk around central Manila and head back for a dinner near the hotel.
Day three of our Manila experience was spent in the Studio. The facility (Unitel Manila) was a reasonably large and busy Studio with it’s own camera/lighting rental service. On this day we interviewed 5 more filmmakers. However, one of the interviewee’s couldn’t make it so we left our setup at the studio in place to return the next morning.
On the 20th of Feb, shoot day 16 of the documentary, we shot an interview with Ricardo Remias, a Filipino Cinematographer, before rushing to the airport. We flew to Singapore, arriving just in time for dinner! After checking into our hotel, our subject for the next days interview, Marrie Lee aka Cleopatra Wong, took us out to the East Coast Seafood Centre for dinner! It was a great night & despite us all being totally shattered, we had a great time. The next day, we conducted the last interview for the documentary! Packing down the gear for the last time, I said goodbye to the crew as they sped off to the airport, bound for Melbourne!
Machete Maidens Unleashed was an enormous undertaking, with a gruelling schedule! We crossed the USA, visited Paris, London & outlying suburbs, Manila & Singapore in less then 22 days! Many of our nights were spent in planes flying incredibly long distances with total disregard for timezones. We setup and stripped down our portable TV studio so many times I lost count! If we weren’t flying we were driving for hours across deserts, through the English countryside, thick Paris & Manila traffic etc! Shooting documentaries is always a challenge and this one was no exception! On the way, we endured bleak wintery conditions in New York & Palm Springs California and even doug out a driveway of heavy snow, just so we could enter the house of one particular interviewee! We sweated in the intense heat and humidity of Manila & Singapore. However, it was an incredible learning experience! Just like “Not Quite Hollywood”, this experience was like an intense film school experience! I have to confess, I had no knowledge about Filipino Filmmaking or it’s Filmmakers! I wasn’t really aware of just how many American movies were made in the Philippines during the 1970′s either. Mark Hartley’s documentary is set to be a definitive account of this era, with first hand comments from original Filmmakers, Actors, Cinematographers, Editors, Writers and Producers. I can’t wait to see what he does with it over the next few months!