Erik Matti is bringing sexy back to Philippine cinema.
If there’s one director capable of giving the genre of sexy films a shot in the arm, it has to be the man who who launched Joyce Jimenez to stardom in 1999 with his directorial debut, “Scorpio Nights 2″.
“That same year I also directed Sunshine Cruz in her first bold film, ‘Ekis’. I also directed Rica Peralejo in ‘Dos Ekis’ and ‘And Huling Paghihintay’, both in 2001,” recalls the filmmaker who also turned Aubrey Miles into a star with 1992′s “Prosti”.
Direk Erik admits that he misses those days when producers still made R-18 films and gave breaks to nubile starlets.
“That was the era when these teen actresses wanted to bare—’yung may gusto lang silang mapatunayan. Now all of them are married and have their own families. Tahimik na ang buhay nila.
“Pero once upon a time, men fantasized about them. Ngayon makikita mo na lang ang old sexy photos nila at ang clips ng movie nila sa internet,” he muses.
Direk Erik adds that it’s high time that the moviegoing public gets to watch something different from the usual movies that are being produced for the past five years.
“Kung hindi kasi romantic-comedy, horror ang pinapalabas sa mga sinehan like what I did recently,” he says, referring to his highly entertaining siege film “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles”.
“Or mga indie films na may one dimensional story lang. This is an alternative choice for the audience. We are aiming for the mature audience naman,” he notes.
To him, it all boils down to bringing back adult themes to Philippine cinema, which industry watchers believe is now possible with the introduction of the R-16 rating.
“Mas maganda kasi na we have different choices. And we get to develop more actors who are willing to do these kind of roles.”
On Wednesday, November 21, audiences will know what he is talking about when his latest project with Viva Films, “Rigodon”, opens.
“Rigodon is a story of three people — Sarah, Riki and Regine. We will follow their story one by one. Until we all get to the shattering finale. This story tells us that we don’t know everything about one person. Kahit kaibigan or asawa mo na siya, he or she still has secrets that are hidden. Ang nakakatakot is when those secrets come out, what will happen?”he proposes.
“Rigodon” stars relative newcomers in the three lead roles — Yam Concepcion, John James Uy and Max Eigenmann.
Yam Concepcion plays Sarah, who cures a broken heart by jumping into a torrid fling with Riki (John James Uy), a former teen star who hangs on to his dreams of stardom as the host of a home shopping program.
He also happens to be married to Regine (Max Eigenmann), whose bipolar disorder is aggravated by her growing suspicions of his cheating. “It’s a film full of passion and mystery,” Direk Erik says.
It was also full of challenges for Yam, John James, and Max.
“I am happy that my actors here are very cooperative. They all had the patience during our filming. Madugo kasi ang shooting namin. Tuhog lahat ng mga sex scenes dito. Ayoko ng may putol.
“So isipin n’yo na lang ang rehearsal namin. Kailangan perfect ang timing or else uulitin namin from the start. Each scene takes up to 5 to 6 minutes na dire-diretso. There was one scene that we have to do over and over again. Inabot kami ng 15 takes.”
Direk Erik is proud to say that he had a trio of troupers in his hands.
“Surprisingly, my actors never complained. Mataas pa rin ang energy nila. Maybe because they also want the scene to come out good. Lalo na with Yam and John James, they have to prove something with this movie,” Direk Erik says.
Casting for the right actors was not easy. For the role of Sarah, Direk Erik says he and Viva Films had to look at 40 girls before Yam landed the role.
“I was looking for somebody na parang may qualities ni Joyce Jimenez when I started directing her. Yung mukhang sweet pero may animalistic appeal. At kahit maghubad, may class pa rin,” he explains.
He is confident he found all that he was looking for in Yam, a 23-year-old Multimedia Arts graduate from Saint Benilde College who is also a drummer for a rock band.
“Yam easily stood out when she came to the audition. She was hesitant at first when we said that she has many nude scenes. But I was able to talk her into it and she agreed. Ilalagay daw niya ang tiwala niya sa akin,” he relates.
Even the role of Riki became a big search as well. “More than 70 actors yata ang tiningnan namin. Iba-iba sila but I was looking for a specific type—’yung inglisero na disente pero may dark side pala.
“When I was able to see John James Uy, I thought he fit the role perfectly and bagay sila sa screen ni Yam. He also has this raw acting thing inside him. There was this one scene that I made him do and na-convince ako na siya nga ‘yung character na Riki. With more polishing, John James can be a good dramatic actor in the future.”
The role of Regine was the easiest to cast since Direk Erik already had Max Eigenmann in mind because had been impressed by her performance in the indie film “Muli”.
He asked her dad, Mark Gil, if she was available and was told to simply contact her manager. A meeting was set, and he gave her the role. “She has the Eigenmann gene, and she was great in her breakdown scene in ‘Rigodon’.”