Cavite

This was the official website for the 2006 film, Cavite. The content below is from the site's 2006 archived pages.

Synopsis

In the town of Cavite, Philippines, people will do just about anything to survive. This is the harsh reality for many Filipinos living in a poverty stricken nation.

Adam, an American citizen visiting his home country for his father's funeral, soon realizes this when he arrives at the Philippines Airport and receives a phone call from an anonymous caller letting him know that his mother and sister have been kidnapped and will be killed if he doesn't comply with his demands. Helpless and alone in a country he barely knows he must submit himself to the fanatic's every wish or face the consequences.

Soon Adam realizes that the caller on the other end is with the country's most infamous bandits, the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim terrorist group fighting the Philippine government for Muslims to own the southern part of the country. Known for their kidnap and ransom and beheading of their victims if demands aren't met, he is at the caller's mercy.

But when he finds out the caller's real motivation Adam finds himself in a dilemma to sacrifice the ones he loves or commit a horrendous act that will cost the lives of many.

 



Cavite Trailer

 


STARRING
Ian Gamazon
Dominique Gonzalez

SHOT BY
Neill dela Llana

MUSIC BY
Ato Mariano

EDITED BY
Neill dela Llana
Ian Gamazon

PRODUCED BY
Ian Gamazon  Neill dela Llana
Quynn Ton

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Ian Gamazon Neill dela Llana

CAVITE
A film by Ian Gamazon and Neill dela Llana

Philippines, USA, 2005, 80 minutes
In English and Tagalog with English subtitles

 

REVIEWS, PRESS AND BLOGS

Pic departs from genre convention with an ending that delivers impressive impact. For a guerilla-style, no-budget Yank indie to even tackle issues of jihad terror and naive Western thinking is noteworthy in itself, but Gamazon and Dela Llana inflame the issues with a gutsy, athletic filmmaking package that shows what can be done with a minimum of tools. VARIETY

 ...guerilla filmmaking at its finest. HOLLYWOOD REPORTER   

A button-pushing thriller...fresh and compelling to the end. LA TIMES

A breathless, jugular thriller. >LA WEEKLY

I've seen Cavite three times now in the span of 36 hours, first to appreciate the thrilling bare-bones narrative (Blair Witch Project meets Phone Booth, only much, much better), then to marvel at the ingenuity of two young filmmakers spinning gold out of tinfoil, then to gawk at the masterful craft of a movie that looks as though it had been made by old pros. DALLAS OBSERVER

...riveting film. PASADENA WEEKLY

...a hallucinogenic travelogue. LA CITY BEAT

Smart, tense, raw and uncompromising, "Cavite" throws you into a verité first-person nightmare with the bruising, single-minded intensity of "The Blair Witch Project" and the topical fervor of today's headlines. AUSTIN STATESMAN

A remarkable film that is interesting and appropriately contemporary in style as well as subject...“Cavite” is a thoughtful and skillfully developed story and a true Independent film. If you have a chance to see it, do. FILMTHREAT

This film captures the essence of independent filmmaking by working with a non-existent budget and delivering a worthwhile film with an amazing message. COMINGSOON.NET

Anchored by an excellent lead performance by (co-writer, co-director) Gamazon, "Cavite" throws your expectations to the wind and just hopes you'll come along for the ride. It's fast-paced and grittily entertaining, but never in that safe and generic way that most Hollywood thrillers shoot for. EFILMCRITIC

Cavite is a must-see. SIANWEEK

...astonishingly well-made thriller. KANSAS CITY STAR

...more absorbing, provocative and intense than most major studio films with multimillion dollar budgets. DAILY TEXAN

...the film effectively conveys the tension and terror of Adam's plight. AUSTIN CHRONICLE

a thought-provoking, edge-of-your-seat thriller... MOVIEHOLE.NET

Where this film differs from those more forgettable Hollywood thrillers is in it's setting: the film takes place in the Philippines, and the filmmakers use their story as an excuse to explore this culture in vivid, fascinating detail. In addition, they take the premise to places, narratively that no Hollywood film would ever dare go. The climax of Cavite is upsetting and honest, and completely elevates the film from the status of a traditional nail biter. AINTITCOOL

Dela Llana and Gamazon fashion a work that's both avant-garde and Hollywood... FILMMAKER MAGAZINE

 

Production Notes

Years ago, Neill and myself decided to buy cell phones to communicate with each other about filmmaking and sorts. He lived in San Diego and I was in Los Angeles. We were in so much debt, after producing three films out of credit cards and nothing to show for, that we became too cheap to call each other up just to ask how each other was doing. So we took advantage of the free nights and weekend minutes that our cell phone provider gave us to talk about how pitiful our lives were for being failures in filmmaking.

The last film that we did was a feature film that I directed called Freud's 2nd Law that was showcased at the South by Southwest Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival in 2001. Although the film wasn't received well by Variety we had a great review from FilmThreat and  aintitcool.com  comparing the film to movies like Requiem for a Dream and Base Moi. I pondered why one critic would give such a really bad review while the other had nothing but great things to say. We figured maybe that Freud's 2nd Law would be the kind of film you either loved or hated but with enough attention it would open doors for us to make bigger budget films. We thought the film could not be ignored because the film centered on an original idea that required a beautiful female lead to wear a strap-on a dildo around her waist while going around sodomizing men as a form of revenge. Who wouldn't want to see that? I thought. I was very confident that the film would create a controversy of some sort. But I was totally wrong in that prediction. The film died down after a few festivals and we never received any deals.

After a year and a half of getting over the pain of failure, Neill was living in a studio that is about as big as a prison cell paying 300 dollars a month while working at J Crew in San Diego and I was living in a much smaller cell paying 600 dollars a month while working at Banana Republic in Santa Monica. We were both stock boys with no idea what to do with three feature films that cost us an average of 20,000 each. I was walking home from work one day talking with Neill on my new cell phone about how we should never have followed our dreams in high school and how we should have joined the navy right after graduation when Neill came up with the idea for Cavite. Neill says to me what if while I was walking towards my prison cell I was suddenly kidnapped and he was helpless to do anything about it. And we immediately thought that that would be a brilliant low-budget idea that we can build on.

Over the next few months we shot ideas back and forth and decided the best way to film this would be to shoot the movie in the Philippines. We thought we could easily do the film in Los Angeles or San Diego but Philippines would be better visually.

During the writing process we came up with the idea that the lead should be an Asian-American actress. We preferred her to be Filipina but with just a handful of Asian actresses in Hollywood we didn't have the luxury to be picky. After months of writing and rewriting we finally finished the final draft and we were ready to cast. The hardest thing in the world is to find an Asian actress, let alone a Filipina actress, willing to go to the Philippines without any bodyguards, without pay (well, after fifty rejections we decided for paying the actress but that didn't seem to change their minds), willing to share a room with two strangers because of the limited space we were staying at, the probability of getting sun burnt from the hot sun of the Philippines, shooting in locations where tourists wouldn't dare go to and last but not least she had to eat an unfertilized egg for the film that shows the actual form of the baby egg in a fetal position. But that was what we proposed to all the actresses we auditioned. We wanted to be honest with them before they took on the role. We interviewed over 100 actresses and they all turned it down without even reading the script.

We were two weeks away from going to the Philippines and we didn't have anybody. (At this moment in the production I was the sole director and Neill was there as my assistant.) I was ready to throw in the towel and bury the script in my closet next to the 16 mm answer print of Freud’s 2nd Law and the strap-on dildo when Neill came up with the worst idea in the world. He suggested I be the lead. For a second I thought he had lost it but after mulling over the script I realized it was possible to rewrite the script and have the female lead transform into a male. So out of necessity and with great hesitation I decided to take on the role. But with so much responsibilities of being the director, cinematographer, lead actor and at the same time the sound man (when you see the film you'll know what I'm talking about) I thought it would be a really smart idea to have Neil as co-director since he will have to be behind the camera most of the time. Watching the movie now I realize that sharing the directing credits with Neill was the best decision I could've ever made for the film. I think Cavite wouldn't have been as visually striking if I did everything myself. And that is how Cavite was born.

One thing I learned about guerrilla filmmaking is persistence doesn't necessarily pay off but at least we have four expensive home videos to show our friends and family.

If the film is distributed this would be considered our first film but it took three films to get to the first.

- Ian Gamazon

On my side of these notes, I’ll get into some of the more technical details of the film since I’ve been fielding a lot of these via email.

We shot the film with the first generation Panasonic DVX100 in 24P Advanced mode and as you can see, it looks almost like film, very close to 16mm quality.Editing was done on a P4 3.0 mhz HTT with about 500 GB of hard drive (20 hours of video footage, about 15 hours of DAT sound).1 gig of ram, dual monitor setup, Nvidia Graphics card, and Soundblaster for sound.Through extensive research, I wanted to go with Sonic Foundry’s Vegas for editing, reason one being I could still use the PC platform, which I was familiar with (as opposed to Macs) and reason two being that 24pa could be edited on it.

This equipment was very easy to work with, though Vegas took a couple of weeks to learn (trial and error, countless message boards, and of course, the manual). The camera was a beauty, I treated it like my first born, babied that sucker.We had the camera for a very limited amount of time and shot some short pieces of test footage in San Diego which turned out well.

Ian mentions that due to him being casted, as a necessity he had to hand the cinematography duties to me. I felt like it was a blessing in disguise. When I originally wrote the very first draft of the script, I visualized a lot of what I was writing (location wise) because I had spent some time in Cavite when I was a kid. I also visualized the style of the film to be very “action” oriented.Frame compositions, editing, I wanted everything to be in constant motion, to capture the energy that is found in the Philippines, hence, the reason why I wanted to take care of the majority of the editing duties as well. If we stuck with our original plan, Ian took the bulk of the duties and me being just a go-getter, who knows how it would’ve turned out. Better? I guess that’s one of those questions that’s worth pondering if this film ever succeeds.

Anyway, I hope everyone likes what they see!
Neill D.

CaviteMovie.com