MANILA, Philippines – “Ekstra: The Bit Player,” the first independent film project of Star for All Seasons and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto, is holding its gala premiere on Sunday, July 28, 6:00 p.m, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
The film is a competing entry in the Director’s Showcase Section of the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.
Directed by Jeffrey Jeturian of “Kubrador” fame, and of the current “Be Careful with My Heart” noontime serye, “Ekstra” casts Vilma in the paradoxical lead role of a bit player, something that she never experienced in her five decades in showbiz.
She started out her career as a child actress and lead star in “Trudis Liit.”
For someone who has been in showbiz this long, it was surprising that Gov. Vi is having the jitters. “Ekstra” is her first foray into the indie scene and is likewise the first time that a film of hers is competing in Cinemalaya, hence the tension.
“The indie film world has its own family and it was my first time to encounter them,” said the actress-governor. “It was the first time I met them during the shoot and let’s admit they have their own world.”
Adding to the tension was when she learned that the “Ekstra” trailer got more than 200,000 hits soon after it was uploaded on the Internet.
“I became more nervous because a lot of people seem to have high expectations for the film,” she said.
Gov. Vi started shooting “Ekstra” before plunging into the election campaign this year. The movie was shot for 12 days, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. the next day.
Vilma could only shoot during weekends but somehow they managed to finish the film within their prescribed time period.
At times, she said, she would be lost as to what scene they were shooting, especially when they had to change location and jump from one sequence to another.
She marveled at the energy of her director, who was also preoccupied taping for the top-rating “Be Careful.” There was one time she asked Direk Jeffrey if she could go home a little bit earlier since she had a speaking engagement for a group of teachers the next day.
Many are saying that Gov. Vi is a favorite to win the best actress trophy in the Director’s Showcase, but this is farthest from her mind, amid her busy schedule as Batangas governor.
“More than winning an award, I just wanted to experience what it is like to do an indie film. I have been approached many times by Atty. Joji Alonso (of Quantum Films) in the past and it was the story of the bit player which appealed to me. Probably because I was never an extra and I wanted to do this film as my tribute to them.”
Vilma is very much open to doing another indie film, her work permitting. But she is now on her last term and she wants a good report card when her term ends.
Gov. Vi said she is definitely attending the gala premiere of her film at the CCP.
Watch the trailer of “Ekstra”: