THE YOUNG AS WE SEE THEM IN ‘TALK BACK AND YOU’RE DEAD’
by Pablo A. Tariman
The last four weeks are hectic days for Direk Andoy Ranay who is hemmed in by two recent projects: “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real” top-billed by Maricel Soriano and company and “Talk Back and You’re Dead” headlined by James Reid, Nadine Lustre and Joseph Marco.
The soap opera is dripping with the hallmark of the medium, slapping scenes and all. The director admits the demands of teleseryes can be draining.
But he is glad he can turn to something light and energizing in a youth-oriented film like “Talk Back…” which is based on the bestselling Wattpad novel of one sporting the name of Alesana Marie.
“I feel like a bipolar lately,” the director confesses. “On MWFs, I am on the set of heavy drama and on TTHs, I am with young people just oozing with energy. Let’s face, tearjerkers can be very draining. But working with young actors in ‘Talk Back,’ I am actually energized.”
Ranay and screenwriter Keiko Aquino share their experience doing projects for young audiences.
The director says his initial job was to review the bestseller and later to confer with the screenwriter on how they can compress the book into a two-hour entertainment fare for young people.
Aquino confides the first question asked of her when the project was offered was, “Can you write for young audiences?”
She replied she is not exactly new in young romances as she was already writing teenage stuff during her Jolina Magdangal days. “But of course I have aged since then. My refresher research started with my daughter who gave me inputs on how the young live, what they want and the lifestyle they prefer. I must say that I still don’t have the ready answers on what the young people want but I have a good idea on the kind of life they lead. I would say they belong to a cool generation with their own voice and share of guts and angst. I got what I wanted as the shooting went along. There were lots of ‘paandar’ thrown in and of course you can’t do without the ‘kilig’ factors.”
The members of the Lucky 13 gang in “Talk Back and You’re Dead” led by James Reid and Joseph Marco met the press recently and it was a good time as any to have an instant look at their sensibility.
Marco said most members of the Lucky 13 are not his barkadas in real life and so he had to adjust fast during the shoot. “They made it very easy for me by treating me instantly as part of the gang,” he added.
Their backgrounds vary in this random sampling.
Josh (as Six “The Chubby Chaser” of the gang) is an actor, singer, musician, commercial model and TV host, the son of ‘80s hitmaker Gino Padilla.
Kiko (as Pip a.k.a. “Boy Pick-Up”) is an actor, singer and dancer who came from the group XLR8. He was in the cast of Diary ng Panget The Movie (with James, Nadine and Yassi, plus Andre Paras who begged off from Talk Back due to previous commitments).
Clark (as Sun a.k.a. Mr. Sunshine) is an actor and model, was also in Diary ng Panget andABNKKBSNPLAko?! He figured in the recent Body Shots search.
Asked what they would do if they get indecent proposals, most members of Lucky 13 said they would handle it the way they feel is right.
One said he would be polite but he would know what is wrong and what is right in that situation. Others replied they would prefer friendship than close intimacy.
Asked by another writer what makes a man a real hunk, the answers were short and revealing.
Reid thinks a hunk should project self- confidence.
Marcos rues a man can be a hunk by being responsible in all aspects of life.
Josh Padilla puts prime on confidence and respect for others.
Kiko Ramos thinks a hunk should be strong, not just physically but emotionally as well.
Bret Jackson says you become a man and a true hunk by simply being a true gentleman.
For their latest project, Ranay and Aquino didn’t have to go far because their main reference was the bestseller on which the movie was based.
Indeed, the generation gap is challenge enough for Direk Ranay and screenwriter Aquino to learn what they need to know about the ‘astig’ generation.
“We come from a generation that still enjoyed reading books and we used to write diaries,” admitted Ranay earlier.
What is obvious to them is that this is a highly ‘digitalized’ generation whose dominant members are into texting and selfies and highly visible in Instagrams and Tweeters.
The director narrates: “They are the kinds who are better off getting instruction by text and Instagrams. In the shoot of ‘Diary ng Panget,’ there is a scene where one has to cry. Then he’d look into his cell phone and I asked him,’ What are you doing?’ He said he’s looking into the pictures where he gets his emotions.”
James Reid qualifies: “Let’s face it, this is a generation that moves fast. So I take advantage of what I have because it could be your last. I like to live every minute of my young life before I go into the sunset.”
Ranay said half of his work is done because his actors looked exactly like the characters in the book. Of course he has to do something so that the movie doesn’t look like a sequel of the hit film, “Diary ng Panget.”
For one, the story is different and so his direction has to have the feel of the latest bestseller.
How does he deal with actors he is working with for the first time like Joseph Marco
Indeed, they have not worked together before.
“The first thing I do working with a newcomer in my cast is to charm him,” Ranay says. “There has to be some kind of bonding involved or else it would be hard collaborating. I have to get to know them as a person and not just as celebrities.”
The first thing he noticed was that Joseph was a very patient co-worker who didn’t mind sporting that red hair required of him for the part of Jared “Red” Dela Cruz. He is very sensitive and a true professional. I really enjoyed working with him.”
Joseph said the feeling is mutual. “I consider this as my first major film role and I am lucky I have Direk Ranay as director. He is also a very patient man as he guides us and discusses with us how a scene should work. He answers all my questions and my reservations. My red hair, my leather jacket and Direk’s guidance helped me flesh out my part in this movie.”
Ranay says he basically enjoys working with young actors because of their kind of fresh openness. “They are open to suggestions and they work so hard to achieve what we want to accomplish in this movie. For another, hindi pa sila showbiz kumilos. They understand fast, they are always ready on the set and they are manageable as ensemble actors. This makes collaborating with them highly enjoyable.”
“Talk Back and You’re Dead” opens in all theaters August 20.