A film with a “strong narrative, a fresh story and black comedy.” This was how independent producer Chris Cahilig described to The Manila Times his project Echorsis at its red carpet premiere on April 3 at SM North Edsa in Quezon City.
Revolving around sweet-tongued and charismatic Carlo (Alex Medina) who fools gays to get ahead in life, the film portrays the plight of the LGBT community in the country.
Carlo will pay for his wrongdoings when the spirit of Kristoff (John Lapus), one of his victims, possesses him. This is when Fr. Nick (Kean Cipriano), a priest specializing in exorcism, comes in the story. But as it turns out, even he has a secret.
All these make up for the film’s title, which is a play on “echos,” which means “a joke” in gay lingo, and exorcism.
Because of its premise and promise, Cahilig is confident that the Philippines’ “pink” market will support the film when it opens on nationwide cinemas come April 13.
“I’m hoping it works well in the box office because it’s actually a statement on how strong the pink market is. But I also have a feeling that it’s not only the LGBT community that will support and watch this but even the straight market because it is something na bago sa kanila,” he explained in this exclusive interview.
Echorsis’ rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) also went down from R-16 to R-13, to the delight of the producer.
He commented, “Initially, ang pinakatakot talaga namin ay mag-R-18 siya. Because that would mean wala kami sa SM Cinemas. But even with R-16, we knew exactly that we were meant for an R-13 crowd, because this [segment]is already a mature market [that is]exposed to social media and aware of what they are doing.”
With the film’s trailer, which was only shown in social media channels, Filipino moviegoers can expect sexy scenes between the characters of Carlo and Kristoff.
Nevertheless, Cahilig believes that the film’s “strong messages of love, forgiveness and acceptance” will still shine through, and therefore, appeal to all kinds of audiences—straight or gay, young or old.
Besides its MTRCB rating, Echorsis was also graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB).
“We were confident to submit the movie to CEB because when I saw what the board looks for, our movie was able to fulfil [all of it]very well,” Cahilig said of the film’s latest feat.
Lastly, Cahilig called on individuals like him to produce films like Echorsis, apparently written as early as 2011 by Palanca award winner Jerry Gracio. As the story goes, Gracio’s script was repeatedly turned down by producers, until he met Cahilig, who in turn tapped independent filmmaker Lemuel Llorca to direct.
“Direk Lemuel just won Best Film at CineFilipino Festival 2016 for his entry Ned’s Project, by the way,” the producer proudly sidelined.
To complete Echorsis’ technical group, Cahilig finally recruited cinematographer Sasha Palomares, editor Benjamin Tolentino, production designer Paul Infante, assistant director Lorna Sanchez, line producer Sarah Pagkalinawan-Brakensiek, and production manager Rowena Concepcion. International composer and arranger Jonathan Ong and his team Sonic State Studio, meanwhile, took care of musical scoring.
“I really hope the movie does well because it will encourage other producers to invest on crazy and unconditional projects like this,” Cahilig ended just before groups of congratulators gathered around him for a ob well done.
Echorsis also stars Odette Khan, Francine Garcia, Mich Liggayu, Ruby Ruiz, Negi Negra, Bekimon, Nico Antonio, and 1:43’s Yuki Sakamoto, Anjo Resurreccion, Gold Aquino, and Yheen Valero, with special appearances of Alessandra de Rossi, Kiray Celis and Chokoleit.