By Ricky L. Calderon

“This movie meant to touch people’s lives. The treatment is experimental. It’s a black comedy but we generally describe it as a horror-comedy because people are not familiar with the genre. So the comedy and the horror are not the end, they are simply the means to tell the story.”

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Award-winning indie director Lemuel Lorca said the idea of doing the movie Echorsis: Sabunutan Between Good and Evil happened in 2012 while preparing for his Cinemalaya entry Intoy Syokoy. He was with acclaimed author Eros Atalia and writer Jerry Gracio, asking what if the devil possessing our character was gay. He remembered laughing real hard every time the story was mentioned.

But it took time before the project pushed through. “It took a while before I was able to find a producer because most of the people I pitched it too thought it was too outrageous. Medyo natagalan makahanap ng producer that share the same craziness like the script. It took a little over five years to finally found someone who take the risk and dive into the craziness that is Echorsis. It’s a Jerry Gracio script, although it’s funny, one can only expect a deeper way of looking into life, love, sacrifices and happiness,” said Direk Lem who is good-looking enough to be an actor in his own movies.

Aside from getting a producer willing to gamble on the film, Direk Lem revealed that doing horror movie is no walk in the park. Shooting the scene where Alex Medina was being possessed took them more than 20 hours to finish. It was one long day.

        “Plus it’s still a horror piece, lighting, mood and timing is crucial. I’m just fortunate I have an amazing staff that share the same appreciation and love for the material. We were all in the same boat,” he said.

It is also his first time to work with his three actors – John Lapus, Alex Medina and Kean Cipriano. We asked him to describe the experience.

“Working with the three of them was kind of intimidating at first,” he replied. “We have seen John in several movies and he is one very intelligent actor on top that he is a comedian. And we’re working on a horror comedy piece. He had a lot of ideas that fitted to what I want to happen in the movie.

“Si Alex naman, everyone know how good of an actor he is. The guy can do no wrong. Coming from a very established and well-respected family of amazing artist, I’m surprised on how down to earth he is.

        SHOT-003_1.158.1“Kean is a rock star! His role is totally different from who he is as a person except sa pagiging madasalin at most of the films na ginagawa niya. He will ask a lot of questions regarding his character. He is very collaborative. I love to hear my actors take on their characters. That keeps me motivated. Happy ako sa set when ideas are freely and respectfully laid on the table.”

DirekLem considered a big challenge working with his three actors. “I have to always put my A game, and that’s fine, I like it that way. I am more motivated that way. After day 1, nakuha na naming ang style ng bawat isa. We focused on each other’s strength and used the challenges to our advantage,” he explained. “They are very passionate at very collaborative, if they’ll let me, I’d love to work with them again.

“I couldn’t be happier. I’m so happy that the planets and the stars aligned to match our schedules, same with my staff.” And he is very pleased with the way Echorsis turned out.

How do you think the LGBT community will accept the movie?

        “That’s a good question,” he answered. “This is what I have to say. Same with Ned’s Project, nilikha ang mga pelikulang ito na hindi tiningnan ang kasarian o gender preferences ng isang tao. I believe that all stories are worth telling. Kailangan pag-isipan kung anong anggulo mo titingnan ang story. Kahit anong kwento, if it’s not done with sensitivity, respect and honesty, there’s no way in hell na maikukwento mo nang tama ang isang pelikula. And you can only do that if you can respect your characters dreams, whatever makes them happy or sad. No matter how small or grand that may be.”

        Aren’t you afraid of criticisms coming from the church since one of the characters, and a closet gay-priest?

        “We shot most of Kean’s scenes inside a church and convent. I can only expect understanding, tolerance and sympathy from our religious brothers and sisters,” he said.

A critic compared Echorsis to Zombadings? How do feel about that?

           “Zombadings is Zombadings. Idol natin ang mga gumawa niyan. They both fall in the same genre but two totally different stories. If we can get the same success as far as reaction and reception from the public, I’ll be a happy camper,” he said.

Echorsis is Direk Lem’s sixth movie and it’s opening tomorrow (April 13) in commercial theaters nationwide. How does he feel about this?

“Laging nakakanerbyos. Laging nakakatakot. Laging excited. Mixed feelings all the time. Imagine giving birth, aalagaan mo itong bata, mamahalin hanggang ready mo na siyang pakawalan. Masaya, nakakatakot all at the same time dahil hindi ko na hawak. The movie will have a life of its own. Ibibigay mo na sa mga manonood, sila na ang nagmamay-ari,” he concluded. Incidentally, Lorca won the best picture trophy for the movie Ned’s Project in the recent CineFilipino Film Festival.

Completing the ensemble cast of Echorsis are Alessandra de Rossi, Chokoleit, Kiray Celis, Mich Liggayu, Ruby Ruiz, Negi Negra, Bekimon, Nico Antonio, Francine Garcia, Odette Khan, and 1:43’s Yuki Sakamoto, Anjo Resurreccion, Gold Aquino, and Yheen Valero.

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