Lunch with Manila is Full of Men Named Boy
What elements of the story are based on real-life events?
I was backpacking in Europe during Michael Jackson’s funeral and I was surprised at how many people gave me their condolences. I don’t know Michael Jackson at all so it was quite funny to me at the time. But as I thought about it more, the statement revealed a lot about how identity is perceived. That being said, I’m glad that no other part is autobiographical.
Why did you choose to film it in black and white?
We actually didn’t shoot the film in black and white. At the end of every day, I would edit the day’s footage and I randomly threw a B&W filter over my edit. It immediately felt better for me. When I told my DP this, the suggestion immediately became a point of contention. But as I thought about it more throughout the shoot, I realized the film could not be in color. For me, the B&W has a detachment from reality and I think the audience becomes aware they are watching a film. So the absurdity is palpable. Ultimately, the decision became about tone. If the film was in color, I’m not sure it would work as well.
The tone is quite dry and darkly comedic. Would you say this is recurrent in your work? What sorts of genres and stories do you want to explore?
Before this, I had only made dramas. This was actually my first film in this tone. I’ve been told that my humor is quite dry and absurd or hyperbolic, so I suppose this type of thing was only a matter of time. Actually, you might be able to find elements of this in my previous work, but who knows… The things I find hilarious are usually the things no one is laughing at. For example, the other day I drove by a Sun Tanning Salon that was burnt down. There was a fence around a crumbling building and even half the business’s sign was charred. I thought that was great! So I guess, I’m attracted to this type of humor and it will probably continue to develop and find itself into my new work which, I think, tries to expose some sort of truth about being human. That’s really all I want to make stories about: the complexity and dualities in existence.
Do you have a feature film idea in the pipeline?
I do! It’s a tragic love story set within a group of hedonistic nomads. That’s all I’ll say!
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
Yes and no. I think short films have given me the opportunity to explore and try out new things I’m interested in, but the format is definitely challenging. I think there’s a perceived freedom because shorts can be made with smaller budgets, so people can take more risks and you can make a lot of them. But the challenging side is that the idea needs to be concise and detailed. And within 10, 15 or 20 minutes, finding the right measure and idea can be difficult.