Festival Q&A: Ron Morales, director of GRACELAND
As we count down to opening night, we bring you special Q&As with directors whose films will be presented at our festival this year. In this edition, programmer Eric Lallana speaks to Ron Morales, who won Best Narrative at SDAFF ’08 with Santa Mesa, and who is back with his latest film, GRACELAND.
Congratulations on your second straight film, GRACELAND, at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. How do you feel about being back on the festival circuit?
My team and I are thrilled about our festival run. It is always an honor for me to be invited back to so many of the film festivals that Santa Mesa screened at. This film in particular has been a passion project for many of my team members.
You have a very extensive resume of work behind the camera. What are some things you have learned that help you transition into writing and directing your own film?
Coming from a lighting background I definitely used my knowledge. I am very hands-on as a director and I think I will always be. Working on major motion pictures, one has the opportunity to study other directors, other production designers, and other cinematographers. It is a great resource, and I feel lucky especially since I am surrounded by that creative machine.
GRACELAND is a tense, gritty crime thriller encompassing characters in adverse situations. How would you describe your film and where did you get the inspiration for the story?
GRACELAND is a gritty and uncompromising thriller from the Philippines. Most of the inspiration for the film came from news articles and field research.
Who or what helped you get things rolling on production of GRACELAND?
We had help from almost everyone we knew. This was not only self-financed but also crowd-funded. Both Rebecca and Sam (my producers) definitely played a major role in getting this film made.
This is your second straight feature shot in the Philippines. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of shooting a film there?
The Philippines has a great pool of talent to choose from. The caliber of actors and crew members is on par with the rest of Hollywood. You also feel this raw and vibrant independent spirit of filmmaking within the community in the Philippines. As far a disadvantages, I cannot think of a single one.
What’s in store for Ron Morales beyond 2012?
I am always working on scripts and hoping that this film will help push the next film. But in this business, it is hard to say. I can only pitch my projects and have faith that someone will see the merit in my work.
Tell our festival goers why they should come out and see GRACELAND.
GRACELAND is a thriller with social and political relevance not only in the Philippines but also in the rest of the world. It is one of those films that shows the complexity of humanity and what pushes us to our limits and truly tests our own morality. It touches on the core of the human condition, and I believe that it will linger with you long after you leave the cinema.