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Interview#37 Pedring Lopez #director #producer #writer

Interview#37 Pedring Lopez #director #producer #writer

When I first read the tagline for MARIA “Loving wife. Caring mother. Ruthless assassin. They messed with the wrong woman.” I knew instantly I would love this film and no surprises, I did! What is it with female assassins? They are bloody amazing! 

Shot in the Phillippines, the film is in the beautiful Tagalog language – which for me is such a refreshing change from my usual viewing habits and a slap round the face that I need to watch more foreign language film, how many gems have I missed? My film review for Maria will be uploaded soon here on The Mighty Dragon.

MARIA has taken Netflix by storm, and I wanted to find out more from the writer and director Pedring Lopez. Read on to find out more about his background, Filipino film, its future and how he got into the industry.

I’d love to catch up with Pedring again on his thoughts on how American occupation of the Phillippines influenced filmmaking, but that will be another time hopefully! Thanks, Pedring!

Vikki: What came first the writing or directing? 

Pedring: I think both came at the same time, my first film, well technically was my second film was The Seed (BINHI) which I wrote and directed. 

Vikki: Can you tell me more about how you entered the industry? 

Pedring: I started as a runner with a post-production department for a television network, that’s where I taught myself how to edit, I dropped out of college and just pursued what I wanted to do.

Vikki: Who were your influences/inspirations? 

Pedring: My main influences growing up were all those 80’s action films, but I was heavily influenced by Hong Kong action and gangster films, then came J-horror, since I was fond of anime and manga I think that also influenced me as a filmmaker. Now I’m mainly watching a lot of Korean films, mostly binge-watching all that I can get my hands on. Gareth Evans I think started the hyper-violent South East Asian films and if not for The Raid series I think John Wick won’t be what it is. I think that John Wick was a love letter to Asia. That motorcycle scene with the samurai was inspired by Korea’s The Villainess which I think is so cool.

Vikki: You must be incredibly proud to have your film MARIA on Netflix, a Tagalog language film.  Will you continue to make films in your mother tongue? 

Pedring: Yes, I am very proud of MARIA and with Netflix eventually releasing it worldwide, it opened a lot of doors. I want to create more local stories that can travel. I was really surprised that we got the #4 spot the week we opened in Netflix UK so I feel there is a market for foreign-language films.

Vikki: You wrote this movie and directed it, is this your preference to have total control of your creation? What are the pros and cons? 

Pedring: It sometimes a blessing but sometimes also hell, well I think you need to have a good team and so far I’m blessed to have a tight team of writers. I also prefer having a bit of control over everything so the writing thing is something I always ask if I do a project or at least have been able to work with the writing team.

Vikki: I read that you have a love of Asian horror films, where do you feel they excel? 

Pedring: Oh, I think Asian horror is so under-rated, I mean we have some of the weirdest, scary stories that are available. When the Ringu series came out that was freaky as sh*t!, and also Juon, and there are a lot of cool obscure Indonesian, Filipino and Asian horror films. I think with the advent of streaming there more chances that Asian quality horror content to be seen worldwide.

Vikki: How has the way audiences consume content (streaming over cinema) affected you as a writer and director? Or has there been no change? 

Pedring: In the last few years, it has changed. The psyche of the audience is that they mostly just stay at home and watch in the comfort of their homes. I guess it has to do also with the whole film distribution model which has been turned upside down on its head. But I still like the experience of cinema, watching with a lot of people you don’t know it gives a sense of community and I always believed that a film needs to be experienced through a cinema. But having said that streaming platforms also opened up a lot of avenues for independent filmmakers something that we didn’t have before. I guess time will tell what will happen but for now, I’m just enjoying all the options we have.

Vikki: What is the future of Filipino film? 

Pedring: We just celebrated our 100 years of Filipino cinema and I hope and pray that we still add more years in our industry. Looking at the future, I could see its bright, with more and more filmmakers thinking outside the box and start distributing their films outside of our shores will surely need new blood that can push Filipino content worldwide.

Vikki: What are you watching now? 

Pedring: Currently it’s an Indian series, Dehli Crimes & Ghoul and I just started with Carnival Row.

Vikki: Looking back at the films you have written and directed, which piece is the one you are most fond of and why? 

Pedring: I would say the Seed (Binhi) since that marked my start in filmmaking career.

Vikki: Do you have anything in the pipeline you can tell us? 

Pedring: Right now I’m busy with Maria2. Hopefully we start this early next year, I was supposed to shoot this year but we had to move it because of some scheduling problems, but I’m excited for Maria2 since we cast The Raid and John Wick3’s Cecep Arif Rahman and Yayan Ruhian, but before that I will be doing an American film titled ESCAPE in January 2020, its an action-thriller set in the Philippines during the 1980s with an American and Filipino cast.

All pictures courtesy of Pedring Lopez.

Resources:

Thank you so much for your time Pedring, may I wish you every success for Maria 2 and more!

MARIA on Netflix
Pedring Lopez IMDb
History of Filipino film

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