MANILA, Philippines - Joey "Pepe" Smith. Baguio, Sagada, Mount Pulag. Caves, forests, rivers, waterfalls, grasslands, mountains, and rocky cliffs.
This is "Above the Clouds," a film we're currently shooting, and we've made this video diary for you so you can follow our journey.
"Above the Clouds" is about a 15-year-old boy named Andy, who embarks on a journey with his estranged grandfather after losing his parents in a flood. They hike up a strange and mystical mountain, retracing a path Andy’s parents once walked, and together overcome their grief at a peak above the clouds.
Pepe Smith plays the grandfather. I wrote this film with him in mind. This is his first lead role in a movie, his first drama, and he really surprised me. He gives an amazing performance. He went to Pulag with us, too!
' Image from the 'Above the Clouds' Facebook page
Andy is played by young actor Ruru Madrid. He's only 15 years old! We found him after months of auditions, and we're lucky we did. Ruru is an incredible actor. Mark my words, you will see a lot of him in the future.
The production has been a challenge, though. It's a film about hope. It's a film about the Filipino spirit. But it's not the kind of film we're used to making in the Philippines.
There are only two main characters — the networks called us crazy. Pepe and Ruru don't have a box-office record — the studios called us crazy. The scale's too big; too many locations — the indie grant-giving bodies called us crazy.
And as we were climbing up Mount Pulag with our 30-pound camera, a jib, and a crew of over 100 people in tow, we began to realize that we maybe are crazy. But — and I hope you see this in the video — we live in such a beautiful country, and to be able to capture this on film has been an honor.
Every struggle has been worth it.
We're still shooting the film, still struggling to finish it. We're uploading these production diaries so you can keep track of our progress. Follow our journey at http://facebook.com/AboveTheCloudsMovie.
And if you like what we're up to, please help us out by sharing this with your friends. With any luck, the film will be out in theaters nationwide later this year. - Rappler.com
Pepe Diokno is a 25-year-old filmmaker. In 2009, his debut film “Engkwentro” premiered at the Venice Film Festival and won the Lion of the Future - "Luigi de Laurentiis" award for Best Debut Film, as well as the Orizzonti Prize for New Trends in Cinema. "Above the Clouds" is Pepe's second film.