Filipino-American filmmaker Anthony Diaz 5th is setting off for the prestigious Sundance film festival with Break, his full-length feature debut as writer-director-actor.
“Most film buyers and distributors attend Sundance more than any other international film festival. So if you are accepted into Sundance, it’s the closest to hitting a home run,” enthused Anthony.
It bears mentioning that Sundance was the brainchild of talented Hollywood actor and director, Robert Redford who won an Oscar for helming Ordinary People. Anthony longs to be in that exclusive circle, which also counts as members two directors whom he looks up to.
“The first major influence was Robert Rodriguez. The movement he created in the indie movie scene was amazing at that time. He proved that it wasn’t impossible to make a movie if you had the desire and the creativity and quite frankly the ignorance of not knowing it can’t be done. My recent favorite is Ben Affleck (Argo and Gone Girl) who writes, directs, and acts in the projects he produces.”
Filmmaking is a tedious process whose end-results are always most rewarding. In most cases, a film’s germination begins with the spark of an idea; what follows after is a whole new different story. Break, says Anthony, was a breeze to write. It took him two months, on and off, to finish the movie’s draft. “What really took time was dialing it in with the details.”
Break is a first-of-its-kind Hollywood style movie shot entirely in Japan with Japanese actors speaking both English and Japanese. That naturally posed a problem.
“Honestly, the biggest challenge was the language barrier, where things could get lost in translation. It took six months in language and intonation prep before we started to roll cameras. Also, trying to give my guidance as director to the actors through a translator sometimes made me want to pull my hair out. It was physically and emotionally exhausting at times. But I would never trade the experience for anything.”
Now, one must understand where Anthony is coming from. This was a kid who always had a crazy imagination and was raised watching gritty and perplexing classics like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, El Mariachi, and The Shawshank Redemption to name a few.
“Sometimes I would act like a character from a film after just watching it and be on that for a week straight before moving onto the next character of a movie,” says he. On the side, he also did normal things kids his age engaged in like video games and sports.
Movies have always played a major role in Anthony’s life from his childhood up until he went to the University of Las Vegas Film School (UNLV). He graduated with high honors with a Bachelors Degree in Film at age 20, making him the youngest graduate in the program’s history.
His passion for film guided him as he embarked on his earliest short films that include Delusion, which was showcased at the UNLV Film Festival and Forgotten Heroes, a film about the effects of the war in Afghanistan to a US military family. Forgotten Heroes earned rave reception and has played at various movie festivals and is under consideration to be showcased at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
With Break, Anthony feels that it is the perfect vehicle for his full-length feature debut. Mixing elements of crime, drama, love story and action, Anthony stars and directs from a script, which he also wrote under his own production company called Kaizen Studios.
With his gym-honed physique, killer smile, arresting screen presence, and seductive alto, Anthony slips into the role of Johnny easily like he was born to play it. Johnny is a Japanese-American young man who gets involved with the underworld elements in Tokyo while dealing with the weight of being an outsider trying to fit into Japanese society. The film’s technical aspects are polished and the storytelling is gripping, managing to draw us into this alienated young man’s world and psyche.
Break has had a successful private screening in Tokyo with over 500 people in April. The film hits Manila on November 19, which is its second stop in Asia before it’s brought to Sundance.
For more information about ‘Break,’ log on to thebreakmovie.com or visit the Kaizen Studios at facebook.com/kaizenstudios.