Between Grit and Gloss

title 2.001Recto. Avenida. Quiapo. Obsession in the midst of urban chaos and decay. A story from four male perspectives where the characters’ hidden desires move in parallel with their reality.

I have read Dwein Baltazar’s Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus many times starting from its journey from QCinema in 2016 to Cinefilipino in 2018. From the very start, Dwein and I did not want to make a glossy film. We also didn’t want another Mamay Umeng, Dwein’s first film in 2012. We shared the same observation that with all the new cameras and lenses coming out, films have a tendency to look the same. We wanted a realistic feel bordering on a documentary.

Initially, we wanted to shoot in 16mm film but budget and technical constraints dictated that we couldn’t. I almost forgot that film died years ago. I toyed with the idea of shooting with an iPhone. But I wanted a shallow depth of field so an iPhone was out of the question. All of these technical explorations were motivated by Hypothalamus’ milieu and its main characters.

When I started to do technical prep for the film, we agreed that there should be some degree of degration during and after shoot.

Degration means :

– Use really old lenses with almost no lens coating to get flares on the image.

– Work at low light condition to put grain on the image.

– Use of the location’s natural light as a main light then augment it with small artificial lights and put the characters in the shadow.

– Add more noise/grain in color grading

hypo (1 of 1)

hypo (1 of 1)-3

hypo (1 of 1)-11

Mao Fadul’s set design successfully pushed the degration on screen. Marilen Magsaysay’s color palette put the final touch to create Hypo’s realism.

The location is my turf. For years I have roamed these streets documenting its people, buildings, old theaters- day and night. I have met the characters of Hypothalamus years before while I was documenting its areas. Vendors, pimps, hookers, bar girls, the homeless, waitresses on night shift, snatchers, policemen.

I knew the grit of Hypothalamus.

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*Hypothalamus is having its international premier at the Busan International Film Festival this October.

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