When 2009 was coming to a close, I received an e-mail from a guy named Avid Liongoren. He had directed a film and was working on a reshoot of a film they had done years ago (long story, he said). Would I be willing to take on the project as the film’s makeup artist? The film was called “Saving Sally.”
I had never done makeup for a film before, so of course I had to say yes. It didn’t pay much, but I was excited to take on the challenge. The entire reshoot, with a new lead actress in tow, was going to take 10 days. The script, written by Charlene Sawit Esguerra, was wonderful. We were given a copy of the script so we would know which scenes would be shot, but I devoured the entire thing in one sitting. It was a beautiful coming-of-age story about friendship, love, family, first love, and escaping grim realities.
The story focuses on Marty (Enzo Marcos), an aspiring comic book artist in love with his best friend/neighbor Sally (Rhian Ramos), a tough girl with a penchant for inventing robots and smart home devices before they became commonplace today. Sally dreams of inventing something big that will take her away from her terrible life, while Marty dreams of rescuing Sally and finally getting her to see him as more than just a best friend. Like the movie’s tagline says, it’s your typical story… with robots and monsters.
Our sets were either super elaborate (please take time to check out Marty’s artwork plastered across his room’s walls, all of those were painstakingly created by Avid and other brilliant “Sally” artists) with intricate, handmade props, or super bare—just a blue screen—for post-prod animation. The shoot took longer than 10 days to finish and by then, budget began to get tight. Direk Avid started using his own savings to fund “Sally.” Unfortunately, with a film like “Saving Sally,” shooting was only the first part. The heaviest part would come in later with post-production animation.
We shot “Saving Sally” at a studio in Marikina whose air-conditioning was so icy cold that it felt like being enveloped in a sleeping gas cocoon (always hardest to fight off after lunch/dinner). Avid’s dog, a bandana-wearing, black and white spotted cutie named Momo, ruled the roost.
Momo messed up one scene when he got into an unguarded styrofoam container of pancit—we knew he had gotten into it because the scene we were filming was suddenly interrupted by a loud, rhythmic screeching of styrofoam being pushed across the cement floor by a ravenous pup, later followed by a loud growl from Momo (his first and only show of aggression; we don’t blame him, it was really good pancit) when his handler tried to take his prize away.
Everyone’s spirits were high and optimistic after “Saving Sally” wrapped. Let’s keep in touch. We’ll see you soon at the premiere.
That was almost seven years ago, 10 for the original crew behind the first film. Over the years, there would be updates, a call to raise more funds to save “Saving Sally.” And now, after years and years of waiting, “Saving Sally” is showing on the big screen, at last.
In an unprecedented move by Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), this year’s movie lineup eschews the traditional fare in favor of new and unusual storytelling. “Saving Sally” is one of the eight films that will be shown during the festival. It is the only film in the lineup that combines live action and animation. It’s an enduring story that has literally withstood the test of time.
To find a “Saving Sally” screening near you, check them out on Facebook: facebook.com/SavingSallyFilm and check out the hashtags #ShowSavingSally and #ImSavingSally.