When he first entered the industry after being discovered by Ryan Cayabyab, Jeffrey Hidalgo became part of the original batch of the singing group Smokey Mountain. After leaving the group to pursue his studies, he went back to showbiz this time as a singer and actor. Now, the multi-talented performer makes his directorial debut in the independently produced full-length movie Silong which is also part of this year's Cinemalaya Film Festival. Jeffrey said he slowly discovered directing was his real passion. “It actually started slowly after I started acting, na parang na-realize ko na I was really more interested in what was happening behind the camera. So I actually used my acting time to learn. So it was like part of my school talaga (laughs),” he admitsted during the Silong special press screening held last August 7 at the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Makati city.
Aside from his experiences on the set, Jeffrey also decided to study the art of directing in a school setting. “Aside from my time on the set as an actor I also went to the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi in 2009. So it was more of like an immersion lang for me. I already knew what I wanted to do and I actually knew what to do already. It's just that more of like if this was really what I wanted to do and after that I realized that ito talaga yung gusto ko gawin eh,” he admitted. He listed Hollywood directors Steven Soderbergh and Steven Spielberg as his idols. And locally, he looks up to Heneral Luna director Jerrold Tarog the most.
Having chosen a romantic thriller for his first film, Jeffrey admitted he enjoys thought provoking stories. “I'm a fan of dark material sometimes. I really like the dark tones eh like sa Gone Girl, mga ganun. Kaya nga when Gone Girl came out and we were finished doing this, I thought, 'Oh my god, they might think we got this from there!' but it came out naman after we were finished from this eh. Nauna lang yung Gone Girl lumabas (laughs),” he said. Jeffrey said it also was a challenge to be an actor and director for this project since he also plays a minor role in the film.
Jeffrey said it’s an honor to direct Piolo Pascual and Rhian Ramos in what is their most daring film to date. “It was fun. You know what, if you remove the celebrity, they're really amazing actors and magagaling sila. And I think they're two of the most intelligent actors in the Philippines because they really think and they know the characters by heart,” he shared. When asked how he got one of the country's most in demand leading men to do such a different kind of role, Jeffrey said it wasn't that difficult to persuade Piolo. “I guess he did it because he liked the project. I think it's something different eh. It's something different for both of them. So that's the reason why they instantly said yes,” he added.
In Silong, Piolo plays Miguel, a doctor who encounters a mysterious woman named Valerie (played by Rhian) who seeks refuge in his home. What happens between them is both electric, suspenseful with a lot of twists in the storyline. Jeffrey said he wanted to do a genre that was not your typical Pinoy film. “That's why we were hoping that the press likes it enough to tell people to give it a chance kasi it's different eh. It's actually a risk. It's a big risk that we're doing this film. It's two of the biggest stars in the movie industry doing something out of their niche so parang we're not sure if their fans are ready for this. But then we've had screenings before inviting their fans and the fans agree na it's time for them to do something different, something like this something out of the box naman for them,” he shared after the Silong screening.
With the movie having been chosen as the closing film to the Cinemalaya Film Festival on August 14, Jeffrey said was just a nice twist of fate. “We just submitted it to them. I guess we were just waiting for the perfect time to come out. Unang una we didn't expect to be the closing film of Cinemalaya 2015 and it's a really big honor to be chosen so I guess ito na yung perfect time for us. I feel ecstatic now that it's really coming out. Finally lahat ng hard work namin will be seen by the public,” he admitted. He also shared that they are looking for a distributor for Silong's commercial release.