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New director casts Janelle Manahan in indie film, her first project after Ramgen Revilla murder

Janelle Manahan with Francis Lopez in a scene from 'Bad Romance'.

For his full-length directorial debut, former “Pinoy Big Brother” segment director Ian Del Carmen decided to cast his controversial cousin Janelle Manahan in a special role.

Janelle is a former Star Circle National Teen Quest finalist best known for surviving a celebrated shooting incident that killed her boyfriend, actor Ramgen Revilla, in 2011. She has not appeared on any film or TV project since the ABS-CBN teleserye “My Girl” in 2008.

During the incident, Janelle was shot both in her right shoulder and in the left side of her face. Since the media hoopla following the case died down, Janelle has maintained a low profile and according to Del Carmen now keeps a regular day job.

During an interview with InterAksyon, the director pointed out that he did not initially think of casting Janelle since her role was not part of the original script.

“Actually, Janelle’s roles as Sarah Alonzo and Rosa were added to the script later. I thought I needed to show some soap opera scenes in the movie. And while co-writing the script with the writer Irvin Malcolm, I thought this was the perfect time for Janelle to be back in show business. She’s actually my cousin so I didn’t have a hard time convincing her,” the director revealed.

The director pointed out that Janelle had already fully recovered when she agreed to do “Bad Romance”.

“Yes, this is her very first film project after that incident. And she looked really pretty. Parang walang nangyari sa mukha niya,” Direk Ian noted.

But we don’t have to take his word for it. Janelle will actually join him and the rest of the cast of “Bad Romance”–Mercedes Cabral, Aiza Seguerra, Rey PJ Abellana, Archie Alemania, Jayson Gainza, Ogie Diaz, Raul Morit and Flor Salanga–at a special advanced screening and press preview on February 12 at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza in Makati City.

The film will also introduce Bb. Pilipinas 2012 Miss Photogenic Karen Gallman (who also won 2nd Runner-Up for Miss Resorts World 2012) and Mister Philippines 2011 Francis Lopez.

So what is “Bad Romance” all about, anyway?

“It’s a romantic comedy turned suspense thriller. The story is about a lonely receptionist Andrea Maglalang (played by Mercedes Cabral) in an isolated hotel called Castaway Hotel, looking for the love of her life. She thinks she has found it in her favorite TV and movie star Sam Lloyd Pascual (Francis Lopez) who she shares a passionate night of love with,” the director narrates.

“But after she gets dumped, Andrea’s psyche begins to unravel in unpredictable and deadly ways. And nope, it has nothing to do with Lady Gaga’s song. But if you’re a fan of Popoy and Basha in Star Cinema’s “One More Chance” you will enjoy the same song ‘’ll Never Go’ by Nexxus. We’re also launching the theme song ‘Nothing Can Change My Love’ by a Hong Kong-based Filipino bandThe Playground.”

Given its title and Del Carmen’s brief synopsis, does this mean that “Bad Romance” can be considered a sexy film?

Mercedes Cabral is the lead star of 'Bad Romance'.

“MTRCB rated it R-16, approved without cuts. R-16 because of sex and violence. For me, I think it’s kinda sexy in a way. You’ll feel the same if you get turned on by blood and gore. But seriously, there is of course a love scene with Mercedes Cabral and Francis Lopez which is definitely needed in the story, and also a bed scene with Aiza Seguerra and Karen Gallman,” the filmmaker admitted.

Shot in a span of 11 working days mostly in Malvar, Batangas, “Bad Romance” also boasts of a Mexican-American cinematographer in Daniel Anaya who worked in Hollywood films like “Titanic” and “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Del Carmen said working with Anaya as director of photography in “Bad Romance” is “like a crash course on how Hollywood makes a film.”

As for his cast, Del Carmen said auditions were conducted for certain roles as other characters were given to those referred by friends.

“Archie and Kuya Ogie are good friends of mine since my ABS-CBN days as a writer. I knew Jayson from ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ even before he became a famous comedian. They easily said yes when I told them I’m directing a full-length movie”, he added.

Del Carmen said the film will have a regular theatrical run at SM Cinemas before they start considering the international film festivals route. As expectations go, he said he doesn’t have much.

“I’m also a co-producer of this film with ArgonVision’s Tim Bennett. On the business side of everything, of course, I would love to at least earn back our investments. We spent close to P2.5M for this indie film, which is expensive thinking it’s a digital film. So as long as we break even, it’s okay for me. That way, we can use the money again and produce more films in the future,” he replied.

“As for awards, I’m still young in the business even if I’ve been in theater and TV for 15 years now. But this is my first full-length film so I don’t have any expectations. I’m just happy doing it and would love to show the movie to more people.”

InterAksyon.com