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Palm Springs International ShortFest 2019: 13 Moviemakers On The Joys and Perils of Making Short Films 

Palm Springs International ShortFest 2019: 13 Moviemakers On The Joys and Perils of Making Short Films 


“Manila is Full of Men Named Boy”

The hardest part about making “Manila is Full of Men Named Boy” was making sure the script, tone, and visual language were all cohesive. For shorts you have to question whether or not the story is appropriate for the short film format. For “Manila,” the movie originally began as a moody drama with a story that was too large. And eventually when I started working with my co-writers, we took a deep look at the structure and eliminated the unnecessary bits. Our sensibilities also came out while collaborating and gave the movie its tone. But that was achieved by re-writing the film nearly thirty times over the course of a year and a half. Of course that process became extremely maddening, but it allowed me to spend a lot of time with the material…making sure it’s themes and details were precise. And then like a light bulb turning on, it occurred to me that I could express the things I wanted to talk about through observing hyper-masculine males in the Philippines and Michael Jackson’s televised funeral. The themes of how people determine value and diasporic identity became heightened through this lens.

During production, I rarely looked at my script because I knew it like the back of my hand. That allowed me to just simply direct what was in front of me and use a shooting style that felt appropriate for the material. For me, the detachment of the camera and the daunting weight of time and experience seemed to be in line with the theme of feeling removed. With the acting, the dryness and nonchalance despite the absurd situation also felt right. In the end, when I think about “Manila,” the film became an exercise in balance. And I actually think that’s the hardest part of making a short film…or any film for that matter. —Andrew Stephen Lee, director

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