Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson
Hi Charlie, many thanks for speaking with us. Where in the world are you right now?
I'm currently based in Metro Manila.
Your most recent short film, Through the Viewfinder, looks like a powerful piece. How would you describe the film to a new audience?
Through the Viewfinder is a narrative experimental short that follows a photographer with glaucoma who documents his life as he goes blind. It explores different aspects of blindness, from how it significantly changes different aspects of your life to how it could affect the lives of the people around you.
As a blind filmmaker, how important was making this film to you?
It was important to me because it was my first time confronting my low vision through a film. At the time, I wasn't ready to write it myself and I was just really lucky to have a friend who I could trust so much with writing the story.
Jake has always been an incredible writer and he really made sure to talk to me about my eyesight during the writing process.
What were the challenges of getting Through the Viewfinder made?
I was very new to this style of filmmaking. The treatment for some parts were very experimental and it was mostly a matter of figuring out what the best narrative approach would be. I'm glad to say that I learned a lot from the production of this film and it really impacted my style of writing and directing.
Where can people see the film?
Our plan for now is to continue premiering in festivals. We recently had our first premiere at the 2023 Gawad Sining Short Film Festival in Manila, but I plan to have special live screenings of the film within the next few months or so. Nothing's final yet.
You have made short films before, such as Love Again and Romuelda. What do you love about making short films?
My experiences with Love Again and Romuelda were very different from each other. Love Again was a sad romantic musical while Romuelda was a really short political satire.
Through the Viewfinder was the most heartbreaking among the three, I'd say. I guess what I love about making shorts is how creative you have to get just to send a message across or to tell a story.
There are so many ways to tell a story that spans years of a person's life in less than a few minutes of runtime. It's that uniqueness that makes it so challenging but also so fun.
What's next for you and your filmmaking?
I'm currently in the process of writing my thesis film. It's called Babe sa Mata ng Bulag ("Women in the Eyes of the Blind"), but it's more about feminism than it is about disability. I'll be releasing it sometime in 2024.
What film (or films) have inspired you and why?
Honestly, no specific film inspires me as a filmmaker entirely. For Love Again, it was Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story. Babae sa Mata ng Bulag takes a lot of inspiration from Celine Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
I'd say most of what inspires me are people that I've gotten to know. Sometimes it's friends, family, and sometimes it's just inspired by a really nice conversation I get to have with someone. I really owe the filmmaker and the person I've become to the wonderful people that surround me.