The modern local romantic comedy changed forever with Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman getting onto a bus together, Baguio-bound. Ever since Antoinette Jadaone’s 2014 indie darling That Thing Called Tadhana, more and more Filipino filmmakers have started using the genre as a way to explore not just emotional territory, but geographical space as well. The farther from home a cinematic couple travels, the clearer their relationship becomes, while the world around them opens up to accommodate their feelings for one another. It’s a trope that works for a reason: apart from the kilig and the emotional catharsis that most rom-coms aim to deliver, audiences also get to travel the Philippines from the comfort of the cinema — the rose-tinted nature of the story reflected in the beauty of our country, drone shots be damned.
But perhaps more importantly, the travel-themed rom-com is also a journey for the filmmaker. It presents unique logistical challenges, and forces them to think about their plot in terms of setting — a storytelling element frequently neglected by other writers and directors. TBA’s latest production, I’m Drunk, I Love You, sees Maja Salvador and Paulo Avelino as college students going on one last road trip — this time to La Union — to figure out where they stand with one another, before graduation tears them apart.
We sat down with JP Habac, director of the new film, to chat about his experience working on his first full-length feature.
How was I’m Drunk, I Love You conceived? Any previous drafts that didn’t get to see the light of day? It all began with the title.
Four years ago, I was drinking with friends, and yes, everyone was so drunk. A friend suddenly shouted out of nowhere, “Nasaan siya? Hoy, [name]! I’m drunk, I love you!”A few days later, when she was back to her rational self, I asked her if I could use the words she shouted that night as a title for a film. I wrote the initial script two years ago. But I felt that there was something missing in the story, so I asked my friend, Giancarlo Abrahan, if he could write the script with me. Everything else kicked off from there.
How has the process of co-writing and directing a feature-length film been different from your experiences with short films? People may think that a short film is easier to make than a full feature, but each poses its own challenges. The past short films that I did made me realize that telling a story within twenty minutes or less is rather difficult. Short filmmaking is definitely a good training ground.
When I make short films, almost the whole process is done fast – from conceptualization, to actual production, to mastering. I can do it right away just as long as budget is settled. But when we started planning production for I’m Drunk, I Love You, I told my producer that I wanted everything to be planned out, and not to rush things. Actually, be it a short or a feature film, things should be taken in stride for better output.