It was a calm afternoon when the story conference for a new Viva Films offering took place at the Viva Headquarters last Friday, December 13.
During that day, it was revealed that Thop Nazareno would helm the said film, which is the Filipino adaptation of the 2011 Korean flick, Spellbound. This would mark the first mainstream film of the film director, who is known for indie films such as the Cinemalaya entries Kiko Boksingero and Edward.
“[It’s] exciting,” says Direk Thop. “Una, na-excite ako dahil sa material mismo kasi the project is a Korean remake. [...] Matagal ko nang naririnig ’yong project so nong binigay siya sa akin, tamang-tama na first mainstream [movie] ko kasi [...] I’ve worked with Viva din sa previous film ko. Parang sumakto lang lahat. Sobrang excited lang po.”
Thop also added that the Filipino adaptation of the film will gear more to “the taste of the Pinoy” when it comes to humor.
“Medyo luma na rin kasi po ’yong original film,” the film director said. “Kasi ’yong humor ng Pinoy and ’yong plan to inject it, since may horror element siya, [ilalagay namin] ’yong superstitions ng Pinoy. Talagang aangkinin natin ’yong version natin. Very Pinoy siya.”
The story conference also announced the lead stars of the film consisting of Marco Gumabao, who is fresh from the success of the erotic-drama film, Just A Stranger; and Bela Padilla, who is currently promoting Miracle in Cell No. 7, another Filipino adaptation of a Korean film. This marks their first time to be a tandem in one film.
Marco plays a street magician in the film, which director Thop revealed that he will undergo a workshop that will help him be his character.
“Kasi mahirap pekein ’tong pagiging magician,” Marco told the press. “You have to have a certain body language or gesture. So, ’yon ’yong sinabi ko kay direk if pwede, mag-workshop for magic din talaga, aside from the acting workshop.”
The actor also adds what made him agree to do the film, saying he believes it would be a great idea, as an actor, to do a Filipino adaptation of a Korean film.
“For me, it’s my first time doing this kind of film so, para sa akin, it’s a new environment, it’s a new project for me. I like challenging myself, so as long as may bago, gusto ko siyang i-try.” he said.
For Bela, on the other hand, she has been a fan of Son Ye-jin, the Korean actress who played her character in the original film, for the longest time, that is why she agreed to do the film.
“So, ’yong unang pinadala ’yong copy [ng film] sa akin, [I thought] ’yong mabigyan ka lang ng chance to play her, for me [it’s a] big deal,” she explained. “Like what I said in Miracle in Cell No. 7, to play Park Shin-hye, malaking [deal] na sa akin ’yon. That’s a big deal for me. Plus, the story is really funny. Like, buong movie noong nanonood ako, nakangiti na lang ako. Meron siyang ganoong effect, eh: ’yong naka-smile ka buong pelikula.”
The actress explained how her character here is a woman who is afraid of the ghosts she could sense, saying how she can relate to her character because of her fearfulness.
“Ang kulit ng story niya at medyo malapit siya sa personality ko,” Bela added. “First time ko gagawa ng movie na medyo malapit sa akin, and it’s my first time to do a light project kasi laging medyo heavy ’yong na-a-assign sa akin, so tignan natin kung paano gagawin ’yong comedy.”
“Sobra akong duwag,” the actress said on how she related to her character. “Hindi ako nanonood ng horror films. Hindi ko kaya. Wala pa kong napapanood. So, heto ’yong first, if ever, na experience ko na may multo sa set.”
Marco added that this film project will be a new working environment for him and Bela, but presses that they are all excited for the project to push through.
“It’s a new working environment for us,” he said. “We’re all excited for it. Ako, si Direk Thop, na-meet ko siya this week lang din and we talked about it nga, so we’re all very open [to] hear each and everyone’s sides. Parang, kung ano ’yong pwedeng mabigay naming insights for every scene, we’re willing to work around it. ’Yon ’yong maganda kasi collaborative nga siya, so hindi lang isang tao nag-iisip.”
When asked about his impression of Bela, Marco explained how her films are always a blockbuster hit so he feels intimidated.
“Bela, huwag mo naman masyadong galingan!” he said in jest of her leading lady. “Nakaka-inspire rin and, at the same time, ma-e-encourage ka rin to do better. Siyempre, because if the person you’re working with, alam mong ibibigay ang lahat, siyempre hindi ka magkukulang, ’di ba?”
“I know Bela’s really passionate with her craft so I’m sure marami rin akong matutunan, kay Bela and kay direk, kaya nakaka-excite siya,” Marco added.
To top it all of, Spellbound is a story of a woman who is cursed of seeing ghosts and, through this, crazy things happen to people around her, prompting her to isolate herself from the people she loves. When she joins a street magician in one of his shows, the latter offers her help to discover why this curse follows her around.
This film, written by Che Espiritu, will start shooting by January 2020.
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