• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • The Middle

Don’t Miss ‘OctoGod’ in this year’s Cinemalaya

Film ⬝ Real Jhon Castillon

To all young Mindanaoan creatives out there, suit up because we have a film to support in this year’s Cinemalaya.

While mass gatherings are still prohibited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Cinemalaya still pushes through with its annual showcasing of Filipino artistry through films. This time, audience can stream and watch the films in the comfort of their homes.

Slated this August 7 to August 16, 2020, Cinemalaya will be screening 10 Filipino short films in competition, 20 shorts for exhibition, a scriptwriting workshop with Mr. Ricky Lee, and more.

One of the films included for exhibition is the otherworldly Mindanaoan short film, “OctoGod.” First premiered in Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival Davao last 2019 and later on took home the Golden Durian Prize for Best Mindanao Film in Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival in General Santos City on the same year.

Shievar Olegario’s “OctoGod” is an experimental film that relatively explores and mirrors the life of a young and overworked creative.

When it first premiered in Ngilngig, it was no doubt among one of the crowd’s favorites. Drawing applause and rave reviews from the audience not just in Ngilngig but in some festivals where it was also screened.

Now that the film is heading in Cinemalaya, Shievar, who also played the titular role, shared with us the process of making “OctoGod”, what’s keeping him busy, and more.

Hi, Kuya Shievs. Congrats on the selection of OctoGod for this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. Can you tell us what inspired you to create such a work of art?

Early 2019, I had an idea for a video installation piece which involved an explosion of glitches that will tackle the downsides of social media. But the opportunity didn’t push through so I just kept the concept. Later on, Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival, opened its call for filmmakers for a story development camp, so I joined and used my idea from the video installation. 

When I was developing the story before the camp, it went through numerous revisions. At the time I was iffy about social media, so I always wanted to create an art piece that would help me overcome it. After going through the story several times, the thought of adding the aspect of the digital artist came to mind. It’s a topic close to me plus it is fitting for the bulk of graphics I was planning for the film. What helped me stitched the whole plot was actually the Kid’s story from Animatrix. The structure of the story was sort of referenced from that episode of Animatrix. I guess the challenge of writing OctoGod was thinking how it would translate visually because it became the replacement of the dialogue which is nonexistent in my film. 

Also films like Paprika and Perfect Blue served as major inspirations for the film. Satoshi Kon’s discipline in his animations really inspires me in terms of art direction and editing. I also look up to some anime for inspiration especially the Phantom Troupe from Hunter x Hunter which helped me conceptualized the website of Karl. In terms of visuals, I was very into glitches, geometric patterns, fashion films especially the works of Nick Knight and Lobster Eye. There’s also this short film called Shunpo that also inspired the initial transitions of the film. I also have a lot of saved images on my Instagram and Pinterest so I also took a lot of inspirations there. 

In terms of music, I just knew it has to be noisy, electronic, and loud. The way I described the film’s tone during the pitch was “The film is a dark and noisy electronic transportation to a virtual dimension where the lead character falls in its own web. A rapid and turbulent chase occurs afterwards carrying the characters to different spaces and dimensions. The setting, both in the real and virtual world, will be spatially claustrophobic.” 

OctoGod came from a myriad of inspirations that I cannot actually recall now how and where I got them haha. It just felt like everything just came into place. Like a solved puzzle. But I must say, the inspiration for the visuals and music are really rooted from the story and the character. 

Can you share to us the (painstaking) process of making this film? How was it?

After the camp, I immediately started contacting people that will help me actualize the film. Location scouting happened early August (2019). I went back and forth to Tibungco that time because the place has a lot of location gems. I also did revise the story based on my locations. Then I prepared all the equipment needed, the materials for costume and prod design. So yeah August was a month of pre-prod because our first shoot happened at last week of August. So I had to pre-prod everything weeks prior. Also before the shoot, I already started preparing the content of Karl’s website because it is vital to know what it looked like before we shoot. So I rushed at least 28 artworks for his website. After the shoot, I wasn’t actually satisfied with the footages because I had a gut feeling while we were shooting that I think I should do GoPro (at the time the story was meant to be shot by DSLR only). But we were shooting already, so I have to push through with the plan. Yet, when I checked the footages, it just didn’t feel right. So after the shoot, came the film labs (which ran for a week I think) then I revised the plot and treatment and initially edited the first few sequences before I reshoot. Because in the new plot, I have to show the website already. So after a week of editing, I did the reshoot then I went back to editing again. 

It was in the editing part that I really felt I wrote the story. It was also the part that took the longest. Editing alone almost took me two months. What made the film hard to edit was the digital prod design. It’s not the usual stitching of preferred clips, adding transitions etc. For each scene, I have to set up its environment first then add the elements/assets that will be included. Then afterwards, I have to animate those assets. Then I have to render it which really takes a lot of RAM and time. So there are days when I will just finish the AE comps first then render everything in Media Encoder when I sleep because there are scenes that will take two to three hours to render. One major scene in the film took three to four hours I think to render. So my laptop’s functioning almost 24/7. Also rendering in my sleep saves time because if I render it during my working hours, then I’ll have to wait for it because I can’t edit at the same time. Also sometimes that rendered clip is unsatisfactory to me or have some errors so I have to re-render it again overnight. Plus, before I started editing the scenes, I have to prepare numerous transition monster glitches so when I add them on the Main Sequence on Premiere, it’s just add, drop and play with the adjustment layers and effects. Also I have a bit of time pressure because I have to finish it early for sound design and musical score. Plus, I also have to make sure the graphics still reflects the story. Overall I refrain from doing this editing effort again because I find it scary now and I don’t want to do it again.

Where do you draw inspiration from your art? How would you set yourself apart from other creatives? 

I mainly draw inspiration from music. It’s what really helps me think of concepts/ideas. It can also help me motivate to create something. I actually feel like each artist or any person has something unique in them so I don’t really set myself apart or compare myself with other creatives. 

Are we expecting another film from you this year? What’s keeping you busy in these unprecedented times? 

You can’t expect a film from me for years. It still depends though because life is unpredictable. But as of now, I think I can only a make film if there’s a need to and there’s no need for me to make one right now and probably for the next couple of years. Work has been keeping me busy and I’m just trying to get by these days.

Check out the catalogue of films for this year’s Cinemalaya here. Follow Shievar Olegario’s Production moniker, Asal Aso Productions, on Facebook for more updates.

© The Middle Mag PH