A lot of things seem better in hindsight. For my thesis film, I actually had another story in mind. It seemed perfect since I conceptualized the story myself. But that story just couldn’t get a “go” from my thesis professor. After a series of revisions and alterations to the story to try and get that “green light”, I gave up. On the second to the last day of story presentation, after which I’d already getten a grade of zero for the course, I asked a blogger friend, who writes poems and short stories, to give me an idea for a film. Surprisingly the concept he gave was approved right away. Thus, Laum, a story of a street child, was born.
Starting from a very thin plot, my creative team, consisting of myself, my mom, and two friends, met to toss around ideas to develop the story. Then, after finishing the script, audtitioning actors, scouting for locations, and doing other pre-production preparations, we began to shoot the film, which, of course, went not without hitches and difficulties.
During the entire process of filmmaking (from pre-production to post-production) my only concerns were to come up with a good movie — something that is worthy of appreciation — and to pass the course. I did not realize that, while doing the film, I was already injecting my personal stand on certain social issues and implying a message.
Then, a series of events changed my perspective on why Laum had to be filmed. December of last year, our school’s filmmaking department head encouraged us to submit entries to the World Youth Alliance’s 2014 Manhattan International Film Festival. I submitted Laum, never really thinking it will even be accepted. Then, I witnessed miracle after miracle. Miracles that are beyond my comprehension. Miracles that can only come from God who has a perfect plan.
My film was chosen as one of the 13 finalists from among nearly 130 applicants. And much to my surprise, it emerged as one of the festival’s three best films of the year. If these aren’t miracles, I don’t know what they are. After all, my film was not even considered one of the best films in my class.
It is only now that I realized that the film has a purpose. And that is to deliver the message that we should all work for a world where every human being, young and old, is treated with dignity and respect, and whose rights are protected. And my role right now is to bring the message to as many audiences as possible. I can only pray for God’s guidance, to steer me towards the direction where I should be.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
By Xandrino Mangunay, a Manhattan International Film Festival winner from the Philippines