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Antoinette Jadaone: From ‘hugot lines’ to box-office glory

June 26, 2016

MANILA, Philippines –Direk Antoinette Jadaone is swiftly evolving as a film director and filmwriter and always, her reminders to herself are:

1. Don’t direct;better to collaborate.

2. Don’t lose touchwith ordinary people and the small stories they have to tell; you learnmore from them than by attending writing workshops.

3. Be accessible butdon’t compromise if your idea of the film isn’t what you have in mind.

Only into her early30s, Jadaone has led a life that finds its way into her films — story, dialogueand all.

The result is thatshe acquired the title of “Queen of Hugot Lines” and “Queen of HugotFilms” from every nook and cranny of showbiz kingdom.

Take a look at thesetwo characters Mace and Anthony played by Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzmanin her break-out film, This Thing Called Tadhana.

“Mace: Para sa’kinkung mahal mo, habulin mo, dapat ipaglaban mo, ‘wag mo hintayin na may magtulaksa kanya pabalik sa’yo. Hilahin mo. Hangga’t kaya mo ‘wag kang susuko, ‘wagkang bibitaw. Sorry, mahal ko eh.”

“Mace: Alam mo‘yung sinabi ni F. Scott Fitzgerald? ‘There are all kinds of love inthis world but never the same love twice.’”

“Anthony: Sa’n mogusto pumunta? May Burnham Park, Mines View Park. Pwede tayong maglakad.Pwede tayong kumain. Pwede tayong matulog. Anung gusto mo?”

“Mace: Makalimot.”

Several blockbusterfilms later, she is back into the directing stable handling love and romancebetween three people who are neither too young nor too old to make a deal withCupid.

She joins thepresscon, banters with the cast of The Achy Breaky Hearts and shows themedia she is almost in the age level of the characters in her new filmtopbilled by Jodi Sta. Maria, Ian Veneracion and Richard Yap, among others.

Says she: “Kiligis not something you invent for people appearing in a romantic comedy. You haveto take stock of your actors, know their strengths and what they can do toignite the screen with their brand of love and romance. The kilig willhave to come from the characters they are portraying. So you have to get toknow the characters and how best they can come out with good inputs from youractors. I would say I am not the kind of director who orders people to do thisand that. I prefer to establish rapport and later find a way to collaboratewithout sacrificing the flow of your story. I prefer to work quietly and workon the characters quietly. Of course, when we meet on the set, I expecteveryone to be the characters I assigned them to be. The rest is basically giveand take on and off camera.”

But then it pays tobe both writer and director of a project like this latest one.

She opines: “Manythings can happen on the set. The scenes originally written for a bright summerday will no longer work if the location is inundated by rain without warming.So if you are the writer, it is easy to re-write the whole scene and make thecharacters adjust to a rain-drenched setting.”

Jadaone’s firstacquired skill is screenwriting and the related chores tied with filmmaking shelearned from working with direk Joyce Bernal. “It pays to work withsomeone whose work ethics you respect and admire. You actually learn fast byjust observing her work. So I made the most by absorbing what is there to learnabout filmmaking while working with her. I don’t think I will learn anythingfrom books on filmmaking. She is a living book on filmmaking by my standard.”

Earlier, sheintimated what she enjoys as a writer. “As writer, you enjoy the freedom tochoose your subject and choose the director who can do justice to it. I amlucky I was also trusted with directing. But my hugot lines come fromreal life and real situations. I try to be true to myself and thecharacters I am crafting. Scripts with makabagbag damdamin lines are notfor me and my generation. On the other hand, I like to be serious by making itvery light and very contemporary. It should also reflect my own sense of humor.I weave my story from my own experience and snatches of life from my friendsand their friends. I like it when I have time to savor every line, every word,every phrase of a screenplay I am assigned to do.”

Without her knowingit, her own private life has its own dose of kilig moments as herboyfriend — Dan Villegas —  is also a filmmaker and her own best critic ofher work.

Both of them believein the power of films and can find a common ground on how to make theminteresting. They aim for perfection but they also realize a film less thanperfect has its own drawing power for audiences. “Your eyes see one thing butyour instinct feels another thing. It’s good to get out of a creative dilemmawith an equally perceptive boyfriend beside you.”

By coincidence, thestory of The Achy Breaky Hearts has something in common with Jadaone’sbook called The Arrow With A Heart Pierced Through Him which isa short story about the journey of a person who falls in love, getsbrokenhearted and finds love again.

Her own hugot linesfrom her book:

1. Love happens whenyou least expect it.

2. Love is beinghappy with the simplest things.

3. Love also meanssharing each other’s burden.

So how do Jodi, Ianand Richard describe direk Jadaone?

They agree on manythings: She’s cool on the set, she’s a genius at script revision and she is agood collaborator.