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SXSW '05 Interview: 'Cavite' Directors Ian Gamazon & Neill Dela Llana

by Scott Weinberg

The 'CAVITE' Pitch: Adam, an American citizen visiting his home country for his father's funeral, soon realizes this when he arrives at the Philippines Airport and receives a phone call from an anonymous caller letting him know that his mother and nine year old sister have been kidnapped and will be killed if he doesn't comply with his demands. Helpless and alone in a country he barely knows he must submit himself to the fanatic's every wish or face the consequences.

"Phone Booth on steroids...or Cellular on steroids. Take your pick."

Will this be your first time at SXSW? Any other film festival experience?
IAN: No this isn't our first time at SXSW. We were here with my last feature film Freud's 2nd Law in 2001. It was a rape/revenge flick about a pissed off girl using a strap-on dildo to rape guys. To this date I still don't believe we didn't get that much attention with that film. But it was definitely an experience being at SXSW. For Cavite we world premiered it at Rotterdam.

When you were 14 years old, if someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would your answer have been?
NEILL: Michael Jordan.

IAN: Michael Jordan.

How did you get started in filmmaking?
NEILL: Making movies of Ian playing out Tarantino's characters, i.e. The Bride.

IAN: Neill made a short called "My hero, Tarantino," and I was playing all
of Tarantino's characters in Reservoir Dogs. Well that was actually in college. In high school we copied films like Brian De Palma's The Untouchables and Scarface and made an amateurish version of those movies. That's never gonna leave my closet.

How have things changed for you since your film was accepted into the festival?
NEILL: Wallets feel a lot lighter.

IAN: Absolutely nothing. I still work at Banana Republic. It's funny because in 2001 I was still working at Banana Republic when we were at SXSW with Freud's 2nd Law. Four years later. Bam! Another film! Still at Banana.

When you were shooting the film, did you have SXSW (or film festivals in general) in mind?
IAN: SXSW was definitely in our minds. We definitely had a great experience here the last time around.

How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
IAN: It was a two-year writing process. We heard about Phone Booth and we said, "oh shit, what do we do now?" But we didn't care. We kept going. Then Cellular came out right before the actual production then we said "Oh fuck, what do we do now?" But we didn't care. We kept going. But I think our film deals with other topics that they don't deal with. Which is why we feel confident in our film.

What’s the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
NEIL: Save up more money.

IAN: Or use other people's money to make our next film.

When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
NEILL: Of course. I did, anyway. Don't know about Ian. I think he was watching basketball making those faces in the film.

IAN: One of my inspirations as far as acting was making Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant faces when they get mad at referees. Totally true. I'm waiting to see if Lebron James will do the same faces.

If a studio said ‘we love this, we love you, you can remake anything in our back catalogue for $40m’ – what film, if any, would you want to remake?
NEILL: Titanic.

IAN: Return of the Jedi. I'd get rid of those ewoks and replace them with a bunch of JarJars just to fuck with hardcore Star Wars Fans.

Two parter – name an actor you'd KILL to work with, and then name an actor in your own film that you really think is destined for great things.
NEILL: 1. Ian Gamazon 2. Nestor Lagda

IAN: Who the hell are those people? My answer is 1. Winona Ryder: I hope she makes more films. 2. None of us are destined for great things. I know I might be a lifer at Banana. I guess I'll be destined for great things over there.

The festival circuit: what could be improved?
NEILL: More free beer.

IAN: Definitely agree with that one.

What's been your favorite part of the ride?

NEILL: Meeting girls is a little bit easier.

IAN: Amsterdam and their cafes. Red Light District, "A twisted Pirates of the Caribbean" we call it.

Have you ‘made it’ yet? If not, at what point will you be able to say ‘yes’?
NEILL: No. Not until I get to cast Winona Ryder in my next film.

IAN: Hey that's my answer. I'd like to write a script around her. I actually did in most of my early scripts. More out of childish fantasies of meeting her than anything. But they all sucked. I'd start fresh with a new script and really push her to the limit.

A film is made by many people, including the director (of course), but you'll often see movies that open with a credit that says “a film by…” – Did you use that credit in your film? If so, defend yourself! If not, what do you think of those who do?
NEILL: Yes we did. No one else was directly involved with the filmmakming process except for Ian and I. Go ahead, ask. The answer will be either Ian or Neill.

IAN: Well we did have our guide in the Philippines. So it's: a digital film by Ian Gamazon, Neill Dela Llana and our Philippine Guide.


Cavite, starring Ian Gamazon, will premiere at the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for more information, and be sure to check out the official Cavite website!.

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originally posted: 02/16/05 18:53:25
last updated: 02/17/05 10:04:59
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