Jhayle Ann Marie Meer is herself a Jane of all artistic trades. Having dabbled in creative writing, filmmaking, photography, among others, she is currently studying creative writing and is the Editor-in-Chief of Splice, the official magazine of student film organization, UP Cineastes’ Studio.
Below, Jhayle shares some insights about ‘Igme And Gani’, her Viddsee Juree Philippines 2018 finalist film that is a sweet tale of friendship.
Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your team!
I grew up in a family of five where there were three daughters. In my works, I always try to feature the female experience, both in a materialistic and spiritual approach.
A scene from ‘Igme And Gani’
My team composed of talented collaborators I met when I was studying in UP Film. During the process, They became like an extended family to me. Chesca Espiritu was my cinematographer; CJ Catalon, my production designer; Noah Loyola, my editor; and Nonilon Abao and Bam Manlongat, my producers.
There are also many others to thank for their time and effort in pulling off such a great job before, during, and after the shoot.
Q2. What is the inspiration behind this short film?
As the saying goes, “reality is stranger than fiction”, so for me, inspiration is everywhere. There’s so many stories everywhere, and there are also a vast number of stories when we look inside ourselves.
For this film, I once got lost in a dangerous part of Manila, near the Smokey Mountain, which is a dump site. It’s the kind of place where killings and kidnappings are rampant. It seemed pretty hopeless for me to get out of those winding streets, but these two children left their playmates to rescue me. They were like my guardian angels. I gave them toys that I was supposed to drop off at a charity centre, which was why I was there.
Then they started to tell me their stories, and the story of the girl was heartbreaking. I didn’t even realise she was a girl because she was bald and shirtless. I gave her the extra shirt I brought along with me. I watched her and her friend hold hands while walking and I felt inspired to tell the story of their friendship.
Q3. Could you share with us what your main challenges were in putting this together, and how did you overcome them?
For me, I have to find my cast and location before I can finalise the script. I was blessed enough to find the location quickly because I vacationed in that place when I was a child and had a vivid memory of it. But the perfect cast was difficult to find.
Igme, played by Alexia Mari Obdianela
In the end, I followed my instincts and went to Quezon Province to meet a girl who sent me an audition tape. And she, Alexia Mari Obdianela, became Igme. I found Micko Laurente (Gani) two days before the shoot with the help of many people I reached out to. It was like a race. But all the trouble was worth it because I didn’t find them hard to direct even though they were only kids.
Another challenge was that there were a lot of day scenes in my script and only a few night scenes. My producers and I decided that we have to fit the shooting into two days because that was what our budget allowed us. So during the shoot, we were always chasing the sun hoping it wouldn’t set on us. Thankfully, it didn’t!
Jhayle is one of the ten finalists of the Viddsee Juree Awards for the Philippines competition, a filmmaker community initiative to celebrate and support filmmakers and film communities in Asia. Check out the rest here.