A film with an extra as the lead role? You got it. The 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival’s Best Screenplay, Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra, is about Loida Malabanan’s life as an extra in a television show, hoping to get her big break as an actress, as well as to earn enough money to fund her daughter’s tuition. Based on real-life events, this drama-comedy film shows the harsh reality of being in a television production, no matter what position you have: an extra, director, production staff, and the like, using a comedic take to show it.
From left to right: The assistant director (Vincent de Jesus) watching Venus (Tart Carlos) and Loida’s acting chops to get picked as a maid in the show.
Loida’s life throughout the film is very relatable, especially to those who are trying to find their way in the film industry. When asked who they can relate to besides Loida, Graphic Head Joshua Asi answered that he could relate to Marian Rivera because at times, “nakakalimutan ko rin ang linya ng aking sinasabi” when it comes to spilling lines during a scene. Finance Manager Dean Pineda and Media Head Sam De Asis said that they could mostly related to Olga, a newbie in the extras. Dean said that “she’s doing everything in order to excel in her field by taking up acting classes even if it’s expensive. That’s why I see myself in Olga.” Sam added, “because just like her, almost everyone in the film industry would really work a lot for the passion that we have in us.” As for Assistant Secretary Chris Holgado, he states that “I can find a part of myself on the director who takes up on his job without question, even if it burns himself out being a glue that tries to stick everything together because the minute I find something that I know gives me purpose, I’ll pour myself into it, even if it drains me.” Business Manager Zel Salcedo talks about how she could relate to Josie, the talent manager, because of how she really cares about her talents. “Kahit kailangan niya iplease yung mga director by being on time and assigning the perfect people for the role, she puts herself on to her people’s shoes kahit minsan siya na rin na papagalitan.” She added that one of the things she likes the most about Josie is how she takes the blame of the problems instead of putting the blame on her extras. “‘Pag may problema, andiyan na ‘yan. ‘Di kailangan dramahan ‘yan para mawala, inaayos ‘yan.”
Loida and Ms. Amanda (Pilar Pilapil) shooting a scene for the tv show.
For most people, they would think that shooting a show or a film is just simple as showing up, taking the video, editing the show, and premiering it on TV. When, there’s a lot of work behind a show. So, did the film portray what happens in a production? Sam answers, “it portrays how things really go inside a set or a shoot and stressful things could be”. She added that despite the problems, a production team would still push through no matter what happens. Joshua agrees that the film is portrayed realistically. “Hindi maiiwasan ang ano mang uri ng problema at dahil may hinahabol na deadline ay kakailangan talaga magawan at baguhin ang mga nakatalagang plano. Kung sa maliit na set ay may problema na, paano pa kaya sa malalaki?” Chris stated that the film was portrayed perfectly, “from the minor roles up to the major ones, everyone that makes up the set, takes an equal amount of tension on themselves. That means everyone is a victim of the work that they shoved themselves into.” Dean explains that the production in the film is accurate, especially in our country. “They handle their “extras” like livestock. They get paid little money and get treated poorly. The film in the movie looks like a highly budgeted film, even getting a sponsorship from a well-known brand (GSM Blue). But with all that, they still fail to treat their crew right, like how the “extras” was made to ride a packed low budget car.” And lastly, Zel stated that it was accurate by how it portrayed the handling of the budget for the production, deadlines, casting, production design, and even catering. “It was all real when creating a film kahit school stuff lang ang production ko. I experienced all the hassle at hirap sa paghahandle ng lahat na yan, behind the prod palang yan! Mahirap.” Furthermore, she said that the portrayal of the production is accurate, however, she hopes that how they treat people in the film isn’t the case. “May posibilidad na ‘yon ang realidad pero may konting pag-asa ako baka ‘di naman ganon kalala. Lahat naman tayo naghihirap at ‘di mawawala ang mga taong mas naghihirap sa’yo. I just think it’s unfair for being treated poorly from people who are selfish for their own entitlement.”
Overall, being in the film industry is something that almost everyone desires to be in. But with a film like this, showing the struggles of every character in the film, it just goes to show that this industry is not all glitz and glamor. That’s what makes this film worth it to watch.
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