A film foretold by the stars

Contrary to its title, nobody foretold that The Boy Foretold By The Stars, one of the 10 official entries in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) being held virtually due to the pandemic, would encounter a rough sailing towards its target star.

According to its writer-director Dolly Dulu, when the indie filmfest for which the film was originally intended wasn’t pushed through, problems cropped up. Jodi Sta. Maria came to the rescue. Clever Minds, Inc., Jodi and company had to buy out the other investors for the movie’s indie-filmfest rights.

“She shelled out a big amount,” said Dolly who was driven to mild depression by the film’s sad fate.

It isn’t Jodi’s first foray into producing films. Last February, barely a month before the lockdown, Jodi starred in and produced My Single Lady, a six-episode mini-series for iWant.

In the process, Jodi gave Dolly (a line producer) a directorial debut, and the big breaks to actors Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson who are being introduced in the film as the leads.

A former fashion stylist and a supporting actor in stage plays and teleseryes, Adrian has starred in the musical Rak of Aegis and is in the cast of the TV5 sitcom Oh My Dad! while Keann is a model who has appeared in drama anthologies. In the film, they play senior high school boys (Adrian as Dominic and Keann as Luke) who, with the help of a fortune teller, meet each other at a school retreat. The story is based on Dolly’s personal experience in high school.

Co-produced by The Dolly Collection and Brainstormers Lab, the BL (Boys’ Love)-inspired coming-of-age movie opened last Friday (Dec. 25) and lasts until Jan. 7, 2021, the official run of the MMFF (note: check UPSTREAM.ph for details).

“Without Jodi,” added Dolly, “nothing would have happened to the movie. She told me, ‘Sige, gagawan natin ng paraan. May patutunguhan ang movie mo’.”

Why did you decide to be a producer? Aren’t you taking a big gamble?

Jodi: “Because I don’t want to stop learning and exploring new things. I’ve always wanted to venture into something related to my work as an actor. So, ‘Why not get into producing?’ I want to give jobs to people in the industry. Kinabahan ako noong una but it’s really an eye-opening and fulfilling experience.”

How hands-on are you with the projects you produce?

Jodi: “I oversee the plans but leave the details to my co-producers at Clever Minds. I always ask the team for updates about the shoots and also the status of the post-production. I also check on the promo activities and make suggestions to maximize the exposure of our movie.”

Keann (right) and Adrian: We shot the fi lm pre-pandemic when the BL (Boys’ Love) genre was not yet popular in the Philippines

What attracted you to producing The Boy Foretold By The Stars?

Jodi: “When it was pitched to me by direk Dolly, the BL genre was not yet popular in our country. When I was told about the story, I really fell in love with the story of Luke and Dominic. It’s a good story, good material na mahirap tanggihan. Itong mga ganitong magandang pagkakataon, hindi mo dapat pinapalampas.”

Adrian and Keann, what can you say about being part of MMFF for the first time?

Adrian: “Up to now, hindi pa rin po nag-si-sink-in na ‘yung pelikulang ginawa namin before the pandemic ay magiging part ng pinakamalaking film festival sa Pilipinas. We’re honored and grateful to be part of this line-up along with veteran filmmakers and actors, especially the ones I admire like Ms. Nora Aunor, Tita Sylvia Sanchez and Mr. John Arcilla. Para po akong nasa panaginip!”

Keann: “It’s any actor’s dream come true, so to even be in the same field as all the other veterans, I just have to say sobrang proud ko po and thankful because we were given a chance to showcase our passion just like the veteran actors. Sobrang honored po ako.”

How is it working with first-time film director Dolly Dulu?

Jodi: “I love Dolly! Dolly has this thing like magic, especially when he’s writing, something hard to explain. And since he’s also a producer, he has the feel of what the public wants to see. Alam niya kung papatok ba o hindi ang eksena sa audience.”

Adrian: “I am so excited for the world to witness how brilliant direk Dolly is. He is our writer, director and line producer. All of us gave our heart and soul to the movie because we were inspired by his beautiful vision and leadership. I would love to work with him again in a heartbeat!”

Keann: “A real learning experience. Direk tested and pushed me to my limits and was able to really showcase my strength and talent in figuring out how to use me as an actor. Also, napaka-patient niya and super funny also. I loved all of the shoots, and I am so grateful I got to work alongside direk Dolly. It was a life-changing experience.”

The film has an LGBTQ+ theme. What does being part of this project mean to you?

Jodi: “My Single Lady also had some LGBTQ+ themes. It’s about a single mom, a make-up artist and her seven-year-old son who move in with three drag queens. I’m so happy na I have a chance to produce LGBTQ+ projects since I work with so many members of the LGBTQ+ community. To me, producing these projects is like giving honor to those people na tumutulong sa akin sa industry na ito. Their community has so many beautiful stories na pwedeng gawing movie or series. Basta maganda ang story, LGBTQ+ man o hindi, go ako diyan!”

Adrian: “This is my first Pinoy BL movie, and we finished shooting it before the pandemic. Aside from being a rom-com, it is also a coming-of-age film. First crush, first love. It brings us back to our high school days. I am proud to be part of this movie. The LGBTQIA+ community has been waiting for this kind of film. Our goal is to tell this story beautifully because that is what our community deserves.”

Keann: “It’s about time we allow all types of people to enjoy all types of movies. I hope this movie will touch many people’s hearts. I am proud to be part of it. If I have to play Luke again, I will… without second thoughts.”

What does the future hold for you?

Adrian: “I intend to be an actor/entertainer for the rest of my life. More teleserye and films, more awards here and abroad, more endorsements, more concerts/plays/musicals. Eventually, as I stay long in the industry, I would like to teach and to direct films. And, of course, patuloy sa advocacy work. This is my life’s purpose.”

Keann: “I see tremendous possibilities and hopefully more opportunities to be able to showcase our talents, and be a part of the change/solution to our challenges. I hope that our countrymen allow us to be instruments of change and equality lalo na sa mga aspiring na artista. Sana lahat pwede maging leading men or women kahit LGBT ka pa or hindi.”

Jodi: “My answer is simple: I see myself fulfilled in every part of my life.”

(E-mail reactions atrickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

Credits belong to : www.philstar.com

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