Award-winning film director Erik Matti does not only see his latest offering, On The Job (OTJ) as a film to be a hit at the box office, but he believes that it could be a catalyst for the birth of a modern breed of action films that could rekindle the interest of the male populace towards mainstream movies.
Known for not shying away from subjects that are considered as taboo at worst and sensitive at best by many when it comes to filmmaking, Matti's newest masterpiece starring Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre, and Joey Marquez, among others, delves into the intertwining lives and intrigues between convicted prisoners functioning as hired guns and the authorities.
Although not riddled with run-of-the-mill action film elements such as exploding cars and fist fights every five seconds as well as stripper mistresses, Matti boasted during the recently held blog conference for OTJ at the 13th floor of the ELJ Tower that, "we challenged ourselves to wrap it up in a really, really interesting story... [with] strong family story, strong interpersonal conflicts.”
According to Matti, the characters in the film were borne of rigorous research with his co-writer, Michiko Yamamoto, which led to their discovery of the existing conflicts between various local police authorities themselves namely the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the PNP-Crime Investigation Detection Group.
"So, by finding out all the relationships between those agencies, we figured out a really nice conflict for our two lead characters. Here's Joey [Marquez] who's really passionate about his job but is not really nice to everyone, he loves to follow rules. And then all of sudden a young guy comes in and takes the case away from him," shared Matti about the protege-mentor layer of the film.
Despite his strong faith to the film, Matti confessed that they still need more push for OTJ. "We feel that this project, if this works in the mainstream, this will open up the doors to other films in mainstream and that would be good for us as an industry na marami ng iba-ibang movies yung magagawa," he explained. "For years puro lang tayo female-driven movies. Now yung mga lalaki ang tatamad narin tumayo at manood hanggat hindi pinipilit mag-date."
As for his body of work, Matti shared that often enough his projects are borne out of bold risks that he took as a director and OTJ was among them. "If you look at my filmography lahat ng di pwedeng gawin, yun ang ginagawa ko. Nung hindi uso ang bold, gumawa ako ng bold. Masaya lang kasi na you can do other things other than what's accepted and you'll find out if people will bite the project or not. And easily if it doesn't work, charge it to experience," he explained.
Like his risque film Rigodon last year, which he considers to be teeming with potential, Matti retains the same high hopes for OTJ despite having casting first-time action stars Pascual and Anderson.
"Sometimes you want to push what you can offer the audience kasi di ba if you keep on doing the same thing parang [wala rin siya.] This one is a risk, I know, but we're happy with the kind of action film that we're doing because it is a modern Pinoy action film," Matti added.
In the end, he assured that whether you're a fan of action or not, "anyone can enjoy the film because it has a very, very strong dramatic story attached to it."
Also part of OTJ are Angel Aquino, Shaina Magdayao, Empress, Dawn Jimenez, Leo Martinez, Vivian Velez, and Rayver Cruz. The Star Cinema amd Reality Entertainment action-thriller will be out incinemas nationwide on August 28.
Photo Credit: Star Cinema