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

June 26, 2016

By Pablo A. Tariman (The Philippine Star)

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

1. Don’t direct; better to collaborate.

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

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

Only into her early 30s, Jadaone has led a life that finds its way into her films — story, dialogue and all.

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

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

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

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

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

“Mace: Makalimot.”

Several blockbuster films later, she is back into the directing stable handling love and romance between three people who are neither too young nor too old to make a deal with Cupid.

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

Says she: “Kilig is not something you invent for people appearing in a romantic comedy. You have to take stock of your actors, know their strengths and what they can do to ignite the screen with their brand of love and romance. The kilig will have to come from the characters they are portraying. So you have to get to know the characters and how best they can come out with good inputs from your actors. I would say I am not the kind of director who orders people to do this and that. I prefer to establish rapport and later find a way to collaborate without sacrificing the flow of your story. I prefer to work quietly and work on the characters quietly. Of course, when we meet on the set, I expect everyone to be the characters I assigned them to be. The rest is basically give and take on and off camera.”

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

She opines: “Many things can happen on the set. The scenes originally written for a bright summer day 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 the characters adjust to a rain-drenched setting.”

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

Earlier, she intimated what she enjoys as a writer. “As writer, you enjoy the freedom to choose your subject and choose the director who can do justice to it. I am lucky I was also trusted with directing. But my hugot lines come from real life and real situations. I try to be true to myself and the characters I am crafting. Scripts with makabagbag damdamin lines are not for me and my generation. On the other hand, I like to be serious by making it very 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 friends and 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 knowing it, her own private life has its own dose of kilig moments as her boyfriend — Dan Villegas —  is also a filmmaker and her own best critic of her work.

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

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

Her own hugot lines from her book:

1. Love happens when you least expect it.

2. Love is being happy with the simplest things.

3. Love also means sharing each other’s burden.

So how do Jodi, Ian and Richard describe direk Jadaone?

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