Pelikula: You did Kultado in Cinemalaya ‘05. Then you tried you luck in Cinema One Originals. Why did it take so long before you decided to come back and actually compete in Cinemalaya this year?
Lawrence: It took me awhile to make a comeback film for Cinemalaya because I had to wait for a script that would actually fit my style and suits my voice as a director. I feel that as an artist, I know myself better now.
Pelikula: In the past years you also helped out in the Cinemalaya entries Colorum and Rekrut. Tell us something about those.
Lawrence: Helping out in Rekrut and Colorum has allowed me to collaborate with friends. The director of Colorum, Jobin Ballesteros is a very close friend. We always work together. Nagpapalit-palit lang kami ng job description tuwing may pelikula kaming dalawa. It’s always nice to help people realize their dreams in a collaborative medium such as film. Today, I may be the director, but tomorrow, I may be the editor or assistant director… It’s always important to remember that no matter what our roles are, we are all part of a film community. We are all bound by our common passion for film… Life in this industry never gets boring as long as you keep reaching out to both your fellow filmmakers and your audience. Cinemalaya is the perfect venue for that.
Pelikula: Why do a film like Amok?
Lawrence: Amok was a script that has very personal roots. I have seen a family member running amok when I was young. Family members and passersby would go inside their houses and run for cover due to immense fear. My attempt is to examine the emotions and the psychological state of people who are pushed to the edge and go berserk. It makes me wonder: What baggages do they carry that make them so volatile?
It was conceived a year ago. My filmmaker-friend Ron Bryant talked about it. Ron, was the one who did the first draft. Writer John Bedia, and creative consultant Paul Sta. Ana and I worked together to elevate the film’s discourse to a more sophisticated one. With several revisions (nine, to be exact) that eventually led to the changing of the milieu. My team wanted to push the limits of the story further by making a statement about violence and how injustice can make it a vicious cycle.
Pelikula: You’re working with Mark Gil again. What is it about him, as an actor, that made you pick him for your films?
Lawrence: I was given a chance to direct Mark Gil way back in 2007. After two films with him, Liwanag sa Dilim and Raket ni Nanay, we realized that we had chemistry and a good working relationship. I always thought that Mark always fits in my films. He is the Robert de Niro to my Martin Scorsese.
I can always do what I want to do with Mark. He is one actor that would still push himself and do things that I tell him not to do! And it usually turns out better than what I had imagined, or at the very least, he gives me an interesting take. It’s always a pleasure working with Mark. He takes you to territories you wouldn’t even want to go. It is a spontaneous trek that allows us both to explore and learn from the experience of controlled lunacy and creativity.