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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 8, 2019


director tyrone acierto with jean garcia

at the presscon: junyka santarin, jean garcia, direk tyrone & althea vega

direk tyrone with his wife barbara and their baby daughter

DIRECTOR TYRONE ACIERTO is based in Chicago, USA when he joined the New Wave Section of the Metro-Manila Filmfest in 2012 with his directorial debut, “The Grave Bandits”, and it won as best picture and best director. “I couldn’t believe it when my name was called as there were veteran directors then in the same section,” he says. “Earlier, I tried to join with some short films but they were rejected, so I suppose the win is a reward for all my efforts and hard work.”

Tyrone’s family is from Santa Cruz, Zambales, where he was born. He was 18 years old when he moved to Chicago with his family. “I’m now 36 years old, so one half of my life, I spent here and one half in the U.S.”

He got an associate degree in painting and photography before finding his real calling in film. He finished filmmaking in the Columbia College of Chicago. Using his own his savings and getting help from his family, he started his script on “Grave Bandits” in 2010 then filmed it in Santa Cruz, Zambales using local actors.

It’s about petty thieves who have to fight zombies in an island. The movie had a theatrical release in Manila and was shown direct to video in the USA. Did he ever get back his investment? “No. I made it for only $200,000, definitely a shoestring budget by Hollywood standards. More or less, I know I will not recover as I don’t even have big name stars.”

So now, after seven years, he has a new movie, “Watch Me Kill”, an entry in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. Why it did take so long to make a follow up film? “Well, I’m using my own funds so I have to save my earnings from my bread and butter, a studio called Prudence Photography in Chicago. We do portraits, studio pictorials, cover weddings, corporate and family events.”

He shot “Watch Me Kill” using 16 mm negatives instead of the now more common digital camera. “We want to achieve a certain texture that can’t be seen on digital but is heightened by the use of actual film negative. It’s more expensive and we have to take extra care transporting the film here to shoot, then transporting back the negatives to the U.S. for post production, but it paid off well especially in the scenes where we use single long takes that help unveil the characters’ weakness, strength and motivations.”

His lead character is Luciana, a jaded assassin played by Jean Garcia. “I was a child when I saw her first movie, ‘Impaktita’. It’s a horror movie and I was terrified. Little did I know that years later, I’d get the chance to direct her. She’s an amazing actress. She lifted the character from my screenplay and made it her own.

"The movie is actually a psychological action-thriller and at first, I was intimidated by her, but she turned out to be a great listener, and has no ego at all. She really knows how to collaborate well. We shot the movie in the lahars of Pampanga and Zambales, it’s very hot, she was deglamorized and got tortured, but she didn’t complain at all.”

Tyrone came to the presscon of “Watch Me Kill” with his American wife, Barbara Piech, and their cute little daughter. He’s considering staying here since some opportunities have opened up for him with some local companies. “But nothing is final. Hopefully, I can get assignments here and do mainstream work here in Manila. As of now, I’m happy that ‘Watch Me Kill’ has been accepted as a competition entry at the Warsaw International Filmfest in Poland this October.”

“Watch Me Kill” will have its gala premiere at Trinoma this Tuesday and opens in theaters nationwide on September 13 as an official entry in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.