Sunday, March 30, 2014

The book club discusses the screenplay of a classic Filipino movie

The requisite close-up photo with the book
No stranger to reading screenplays, I am.
Sometimes, the book club pushes itself outward and talks about material that we wouldn't normally read ourselves. That's what happened this weekend, when we met one afternoon to talk about a screenplay of a much-beloved Filipino classic—"Himala." So I'm sharing with you pictures of the event, dear reader. I'll reserve my thoughts on the screenplay for another post. Anyway, you can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Of course, one does not simply organize a discussion by just coming up with the discussion questions. This month's facilitator, Orly, made sure that he kept up with the book club tradition of giving away bookmarks and other related items. For "Himala," we each received these wonderful bookmarks and the anahaw fans with the words "Elsa saves" and "Elsa loves you" printed on them. These phrases are the arc words of the screenplay.

I am an Elsa fan.
The fan can be quite useful, especially now that it's officially summer.
The books, the DVD of the restored version, and other stuff
Always a good conversation starter
Orly did a wonderful job facilitating the discussion. He even invited Gilbert, one of his friends who was involved in the creation of the coffeetable book Sa Puso ng Himala. That particular book had the screenplay we're going to discuss, plus a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff about the production of the movie. The BTS stuff had very juicy bits about the crew and the talent. Very gossipy and quite fun to read!

Before we delved into the discussion proper, Orly showed us a few slides about the screenplay. He talked about the screenwriter Ricky Lee, the history of the film's production, the movie's very important place in Philippine cinema, and even the personalities involved in the movie. It was a very informative and engaging presentation. Lots of questions thrown around by the members even if we haven't officially begun discussing the screenplay.

We were actually given 2 books to choose from for this discussion—Sa Puso ng Himala and Si Tatang at ang Himala ng Ating Panahon. Both contain the screenplay, but the former focuses more on the movie, while the latter is a collection of the screenwriter's works. I bought both books though, as I couldn't help myself. But for the discussion, I decided to go with Sa Puso ng Himala. I figured I wanted to know more about the movie rather than the writer.

Orly (in white) and Gilbert (in yellow)
As expected, with Orly as the facilitator, the discussion was livelier than usual.
One of Orly's pre-discussion slides
This one shows the screenwriter, Ricky Lee. 
The rare movie postcards given away as prizes.
I won one of them! The one with Elsa, the lead actress. 
Now we're on to the discussion proper. Of course, the usual questions were thrown to the group. Which themes in the screenplay struck you the most? Who were the characters that created a strong impact in you? How was the experience reading a screenplay? How is it different from reading a play or watching the movie? From a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the screenplay? It all feels very structured at first.

But you know what? From the discussions we've recently had, the moderator just poses a few standard questions, and then the discussion takes off from there. So really, the moderator simply steps back and just makes sure that everyone is given the chance to participate. In the end, we usually end up answering one another's questions. The members are a talkative bunch, and a good number of us can be quite opinionated.

My good friend Orly
He's the perfect guy to facilitate this screenplay discussion.
A few members share their ideas about the screenplay
Here we have Doc Cecille, Gege, Jeeves, and Czar. 
Lots of lighthearted moments during the discussion
Here's R. doing a goofy face. To his right is Sana. 
When asked for my favorite characters, I chose the 3 principal women:
Elsa (seated), Nimia (the one to her right), and Chayong (above Elsa).
Anne and Honey
Some of the questions were deeply profound. We had to pause and think. 
Ms. Raquel Villavicencio, the movie's production designer, joined us!
She shared lots of insights about the movie's production.
We were given copies of the original and final drafts of Elsa's speech.
Truly, writing a screenplay requires several drafts.
Busted! My good friend Marie.
Finishing the last 2 pages of the screenplay during the discussion
Oh, and it wasn't just a discussion. Orly facilitated a screenplay writing workshop by the end of the afternoon. Actually, it's in preparation for the group's Christmas party this year. I know, I know, it's still March, but we do have something big planned for this year. The theme for this year's Christmas party is the movies! For that project, members were sorted into teams and each team was tasked to make a 15-minute movie following a specific genre.

Anyway, for the screenplay writing workshop, Orly listed the deleted scenes from the movie. Then each group was assigned one of these scenes. The groups were then tasked to write the screenplay (with the speaking parts, the blocking, the description of the setting, etc.) for that particular scene. To think that some of us have no experience with moviemaking, much less with writing a screenplay, I think the final outputs were awesome.

The members listening to Orly explain the screenplay writing workshop.
We take things way too seriously, which is a good thing. 
Gege, Sana, and Iya
The ladies discussing the deleted opening scene of "Himala." 
Joko, R., and Jewel
I was aiming for a candid shot actually.
Jeeves and Mike
They're just 2 of the members of the all-male team.
Standing: Czar, Don, and Orly; seated: Doc Cecille, Jan, Anne, and Honey
The fabulous ladies are doing their own version of brainstorming.
And during the discussion, Marie gave me the hat I asked her to make.
My birthday's St. Patrick's Day! I love this supersized leprechaun hat!
It was truly a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon. It feels like I haven't seen my friends from the book club forever, even though we do make it a point to meet at least once a month. Till next time, fellow bibliophiles. And to you, dear reader, isn't it time you join a book club?


yccos said...

how can I join a book club?

Peter S. said...

Hi, yccos! Are you from Manila? And do you have Facebook? You're more than welcome to join our book club!

Here's the URL of our Facebook page:

Orly said...

Thank you for this, Peter! It was great discussing the screenplay with you and with the group. Til next month!

Peter S. said...

You're welcome, Orly!

You did a fantastic job moderating this discussion. You made it seem effortless, even though we all know that it's not!

I'm not sure if I can attend the April discussion, but I will definitely see you again soon.

yccos said...

Yep. From QC :) sent request to join the group! Salamat :)

Peter S. said...

Oh, all right. We'll check and add you! See you soon, yccos!

Monique said...

WOW. What an interesting discussion! And I've yet to read a screenplay - I think I'm scared to? :D

And, is it just me, or is the font size of your blog posts larger than before?

Peter S. said...

Hi, Monique! Oh, you've noticed! Yes, I increased the font size. It's primarily for my benefit though. Hehehehehe.

Overthinker Palaboy said...

Kakainggit! Mukhang maganda ang diskusyon! Ang seryoso ng ibang larawan!

Peter S. said...

Hehehehe. Kina-karir kasi namin ang mga activities.