In 1979, Apocalypse Now, hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time, premiered in Hollywood amid much controversy. Shot on location in Baler, Aurora, then a small fishing village in the Philippines, the film went way over budget and took much too long to shoot. When the filming crew, led by director Francis Ford Coppola, left the shores of Baler in 1977, they had no idea that their film would have such an impact on the local community.
It has become part of local lore how, scattered among the debris of Apocalypse Now, were surfboards used by the filming crew and how a group of teenage boys found the boards and decided to teach themselves how to surf. Fast forward to over three decades later and Baler is now widely regarded as the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines.
This is the backdrop for the upcoming film Apocalypse Child, one of the finalists in the QCinema International Film Festival 2015. Directed by Mario Cornejo and produced by Monster Jimenez under ArkeoFilms, the movie stars Sid Lucero as Ford, a surfing instructor in Baler whose father is supposedly the Apocalypse Now director. As his mother petitions Coppola to acknowledge his son, Ford has been wasting his youth away, that is, until he is forced to confront his past and the myths surrounding his life.
Lucero,an award-winning actor who has an 11-year career behind him, is a favorite among indie film producers. He says shooting Apocalypse Now is unlike anything he has ever experienced before. “Honestly this is the most fun I’ve ever had on a set. It really didn’t feel like working.”
“I mean, come on, we shot on a beach, we finished at what, 8 o’clock most of the time? And we were there for a month!” Lucero laughs as he recalls his experience on set and shares that the hardest thing for him to do was to actually leave Baler after filming wrapped. It was so hard that Lucero found a way to stay behind a few more days. “I fell in love with Baler. I want to live there. I want to die there!” Lucero’s enthusiasm for the town is infectious and will, perhaps, seep into the film’s audience once it shows starting October 23 in select cinemas.
He, however, admits that he’s a little scared to watch it. “I think this is the first time I allowed myself to be that exposed.” Lucero reveals that in a way, the story reflects certain parts of his life. “I’ve never been so comfortable naked, not physically, but exposed, like your heart’s right there.”
This is surprising since Lucero’s performances in previous films and TV shows often come across as raw and intense, but he insists Apocalypse Child is different, in that there’s a certain aspect of it that’s very personal to him. He credits director Cornejo for bringing that out of him.
It is Lucero’s first time to work with Cornejo, whose film credits include Big Time (2005), First Day High (2006), and Stray Hearts (2008), and the actor could not get over how vastly different the Apocalypse Child director is from anyone he has ever worked with in the past.
“I’m not used to working with people like Mario. Mario likes to talk about things, which is great. I like it too because it gives me the right direction,” Lucero recalls. “But I grew up as an actor doing things on the first or the second take and I’m not used to doing it over and over and over again. Every line and every scene is really premeditated.”
Lucero said that the talking made him lose his patience a few times. He’d lash out at Cornejo who, thankfully, has the patience of a saint and never lost his temper on set. “For some reason, he never gets angry. He never felt like I was being bastos although I was already, not intentional naman. Impatient lang talaga. But the way I defend him to myself is: this is his baby and although he trusts us with his characters, this is still his brainchild. And siyempre you want to give what he wants to see.”
Lucero believes that all the talking and the patience paid off because it made him understand his character more. “That’s what I appreciate about Direk (Cornejo), although it totally goes against the way I do my job. But it works. It’s good to be working with someone who has a different attack. It makes you grow. You learn a lot.”
In describing his character, Lucero has this to say; “Ford, as I understand him, is a character just going through life. Perfect na eh, he’s a surfer, he rides the waves. But I think he could do more. Something happened to him which made him be comfortable being right where he is, which is basically what the film is talking about, as a Filipino.”
When Lucero first met Cornejo, who co-wrote Apocalypse Child with Monster Jimenez, he had no idea that things would go the way they went on set. The story piqued Lucero’s curiosity and he wanted front row seats to see just how Cornejo would shoot certain scenes he considered very personal.
“The sensitive scenes, I like (them) as real as possible. And that’s never easy because you’re basically baring your soul to someone you barely know and to other people, too. Tapos may camera pa. But when I started seeing how I thought Direk Mario saw the film, the more it became appealing to me. It’s nice because everything’s so real and natural, all his scenes.”
Lucero adds, “And the fact that it was supposed to be a comedy but done reverently. And that’s what I like nowadays, comedies that actually say something.”
Set in a tableau of sun, surf, and sand, it will be interesting to see if Apocalypse Child is indeed a comedy as Sid Lucero thinks.
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