Yam Laranas took up Medical Technology at the Immaculate Conception College but dropped out after his second year. He then studied film-making at the Mowelfund Film Institute Professor of Cinematography at the Ateneo de Manila University and has directed 7 movies to date including a remake of his own movie that made it to Hollywood.
Some of his films are Balahibong Pusa (2001), Radyo (2001), Ikaw Lamang Hanggang Ngayon (2002), Hibla (2002), Sigaw (2004), The Echo (2008) and Patient X (2009).
This year, Yam Laranas offers a whole new level of horror where there is no room for clichÃ©s and predictable outcomes, but only for a mind-boggling and hair-raising thrill ride via his latest movie “The Road“.
Here are some Q&A with Director Yam Laranas sent by GMA Films:
LARANAS: “I began writing the story of “The Road” in 2005. It was completed just August last year. After that, we got the approval of GMA Films sometime in January this year and we immediately began pre-production. The actual shooting started in July.”
Q: What things did you consider in writing the film?
LARANAS: “Nung sinusulat namin ang pelikula, ang sinabi namin’enough of the Asian horror.’ Not that there’s something wrong with the genre but because marami na kasing nakapanood ng mga pelikulang ganun. For me, with respect to the audience, kailangan magpakita naman tayo ng bago. Yung iba naman.”
Q: We have seen several good horror movies both foreign and local in the past, what sets “The Road” apart from these films?
LARANAS: “Nakakatuwa nga kasi meron kaming listahan ng mga eksenang hindi na dapat isama sa pelikula kasi gasgas na: yung mga tipong hinihila sa ilalim ng kama, yung may tatapik sa likod mo tapos paglingon mo kaibigan mo lang pala, etc. Sabi ko, ‘pag walang kinalaman sa istorya, wag na nating ilagay.’ Kasi yung audience -lalo na yung mga mahihilig sa horror – alam na nila lahat ‘yan e. Hindi mo sila mabobola. At feeling ko nakakahiya sa audience kung ang ipapakita mo sa kanila ay ang mga bagay na napanood na nila.”
Q: So, why ‘The Road’?
LARANAS: “I chose the title ‘The Road’ because it could mean a lot of things. Pwedeng papunta ka pa lang, pwede ring pabalik na. Sa kwentong ito, hindi alam ng mga characters sa pelikula kung pabalik na sila o papunta pa lang. And that adds to the mystery. Sa kwento ng pelikula, na-trap sila sa road for thirty years pero hindi nila alam kung ano ang nangyayari at kung bakit.”
Q: What were your bases in casting actors for the film?
LARANAS: “The first thing I asked for was a list of good actors, tapos base sa listahan na ‘yun namili ako. At dahil yung movie ay nangangailangan ng serious acting, pinili ko yung sa tingin ko ay mayroon talagang commitment. Lahat ng artista ko sa pelikula ay may commitment. Hindi lang sa project kundi sa mga character din nila.”
Q: This is the tweens’ first horror movie and their first film with you as the director, so how was it working with them?
LARANAS: “I think yung mga fans ng tweens lalong bibilib sa kanila kasi makikita nila na hindi lang sila marunong sumayaw o kumanta. Mas maa-appreciate nila ang acting ng mga tweens dahil napaka-convincing talaga.”
LARANAS: “Si Alden has one of the most difficult roles sa pelikulakasi halos wala siyang speaking lines; halos dalawang sentences lang. Kaya kung ikaw ang artista, paano mo ilalabas ang emosyon mo kung wala kang sasabihin? Ang mga manonood ay, at one point,kikiligin kay Alden and at another matatakot sila and yet ginawa niya ito through pure acting; without the help of so much words. Hindi lang siya magaling, talagang committed pa siya sa role niya.”
LARANAS: “Rhian will show everyone how great an actress she is in this film. She is very serious in portraying her character. So serious that pag merong moments na pinapaiyak siya, ang hirap niyang mapatigil. Rhian has proven that she is a very good actress and I think she’s going to stay long in this business. I have told her that several times in the past, akala niya nagbibiro lang ako o pinupuri ko lang siya para mas ganahan siyang umarte, but it’s really true.”
Q: Where is this ‘road’?
LARANAS: “Most of our sequences were shot in Teresa, Rizal. Ang ganda ganda ng location; very cinematic and it’s actually the first time that it was used as a location for a film.”
LARANAS: “Hindi naman. But at one point, some of crew members refuse to use the restroom on the upper floor of the house where we shot several sequences in. Pati yung mismong road ay nakakatakot din talaga.Kahit nga yung artista, pagkatapos nilang mag-shoot nagmamadali silang umalis. Pati nga yung crew nagtatakutan kasi madilim talaga. Kami lang kasi yung nandun e. ‘Pag pinatay mo yung ilaw, ang dilim dilim niya talaga dahil malayo siya sa mga kabahayan e. Yun pa lang nakakatakot na, and I think yun kaagad ang maeexperience ng audience.”
Q: Your last feature film, Sigaw, reaped international acclaim and was even released abroad. Do you think “The Road” will replicate or even surpass its success?
LARANAS: “I really hope so. May mga [film] festival na humihingi na ng copies. Nakakatuwa dahil trailer pa lang ng pelikula maugong na sa internet. May mga foreign buyer na rin na interested in releasing the movie in North America and Europe. Nagpapadala na kami ng screeners, kinakausap ko na yung mga festival organizer. Actually, ‘The Road’ is currently being evaluated by a big company in the States and hopefully, magustuhan nila at i-release nila.”
Q: What should moviegoers expect from this film?
LARANAS: “Maraming surprises na makikita ang audience sa mga cast ng pelikula. Yung tipong sasabihin nila na ‘Oh my God, ang galing pala nilang umarte.’ Pag nakita mo yung artistang hinahangaan mo TV at pag nakita mo siya sa pelikulang ‘The Road’,mapapansin mong meron silang ibang level sa pag-arte na hindi pa natin napapanood sa mga teleserye o movies na nagawa nila. At ako bilang direktor at bilang kasama nila sa trabaho ay natutuwa kasi nabigyan nila ng buhay yung script at yung kwento.”
Q: Why should horror fans watch “The Road”?
LARANAS: “The Road is a ghost story, that’s why it’s very real. Yung mga nakapanood na ng mga preview screenings namin isa lang ang sinasabi nila: ‘ayokong panoorin ‘tong mag-isa. We guarantee the audience that the ‘scare’ of the road is something new. Sana magustuhan nila, at sana panoorin nila.”
Q: After “The Road,” what kind of film would you want to do?
LARANAS: “Hindi ko pa alam kung anong klaseng movie ang gagawin ko, pero any story that’s compelling – may it be comedy, love story or thriller – walang problema sa akin.”
Also starring in the film are John Regala, Lloyd Samartino, Gerald Madrid, Allan Paule, Dex Quindoza, Ana Abad Santos and Ms. Jacklyn Jose.
Opens this coming November 30 in theaters nationwide under GMA Films.