The Changing Partners director shares his experience understanding homosexuality.
After winning Best Director last year when his film Changing Partners was part of the Cinema One Originals film festival, director Dan Villegas admitted it was really a challenge for him to work on a musical for the very first time.
“Sa totoo lang pag nag-start ako ng project hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko. Mas nakukuha yung character pag nakakausap ko na yung mga artista. Pumasok ako dito hindi ako marunong mag-direct ng musical. Kaya ko ginawa ito, sinabi sa akin ni Tonette (Jadaone, his girlfriend and fellow director), ‘Panuorin mo ito ang ganda ganda.’ Tapos tumawag si Vince (De Jesus), ‘Gagawin naming pelikula. Puwede mo ba i-direct?’ Na-touch ako. pero hindi ko pa napapanuod yung play nun,” he recalled.
Making a musical transition to the big screen was a risk but Villegas hopes local audiences can appreciate his work.
“We tried to make it as seamless as possible. Ang atake namin parang inner monologue yung songs. So dun pa alng you can say it was an uphill battle kasi sobrang research siya tapos in terms of being a battle in terms of box office, sana ito yung mag-bridge kasi may disconnect kasi mahilig tayong kumanta so sana magustuhan ng tao,” he said.
With hit mainstream movies under his belt like How To Be Yours and Always Be My Maybe, Villegas stated he tries not to be pressured when asked about his most current project.
“Kung ito yung best hindi ko alam pero ito yung isa sa pinakagusto kong experience, not yung pinaka. Ang isa sa pinaka-na-enjoy ko na part of the process is yung pagkausap ko sa actors sa tingin nila sa character nila. Kasi dun nalalaman. Ito yung isa sa pinaka-suaveng ginawa ko. Number one, you work with the same actors na pinanuod ko sa play and they were very professional, very open. Tapos nung start pa lang ng whole process dini-discuss namin lahat. So objectively they make me look good. Sa totoo lang everything worked eh,” he added.
Villegas said whenever he gets praises for Changing Partners, he will always want to share credit with the staff and stars of the film.
“Sinasabi nila the director is the captain of the ship and yes oo pero kung yung staff mo ganito kagaling, yung ship mo magaling ‘di ba? And with the actors, with the staff, and yung sobra kong na-appreciate na yung ibang tao sinasabi sa akin, yung continuity ng color ng costume pinag-isipan ng stylist. Kinarir ng stylist yung pelikula, kinarir ng cinemtographer, kinarir ng editor. So parang thank you sa pagpuri na-appreciate ko. Pero it was a team effort,” he explained.
The film gives a glimpse into the different dynamics of romantic relationships, heterosexual or otherwise. Villegas shared how his personal experience helped give him a deeper understanding of some of his characters.
“My sister is a lesbian tapos yung family namin very conservative, old school family. So malaking issue nsiya nun. So nung nag-usap kami nun kasi ako mismo hindi ko ma-gets. Sabi sa akin ng sister ko sa akin, ‘Kuya pag naglalakad ka sa SM North ano yung nililingon mo pag naglalakad ka?’ Sabi ko sa mga chicks. Sabi niya, ‘Kuya, magkaparehas tayo. Yun din ang nililingon ko. Does it make me a bad person na pag yun ang nilingon ko babae eh babae rin ako?’
“So parang yun yung nagbukas ng utak ko. Parang hindi siya choice eh. Anong magagawa mo? Naglalakad ka sa mall, kumakain ka, nagkakape ka tapos may dumaan na maganda or guwapo tpaos napalingon ka. Does it make you a bad person? Tapos pag nagmahal ka, does it make your love less? I don’t think so,” he said.