He talks to Mynila about making videos, dealing drugs and dancing inside banks.
Why film making?
Because you can basically do anything, you can travel back in time, or literally travel to a different place. One day you’re chasing a man on fire in the middle of a desert, next thing you know you’re shooting a weird party scene in some mansion in the middle of a jungle. It still fucks me up when I write these ideas alone in my room, and then the week after, I have a hundred people trying to help me execute this thing.
What was your first project in Manila?
It was this terrible dietary supplement commercial, it was the worst. This guy forgot to shave his stomach so I had to spend two days erasing his stomach hair. It was one of the worst times in my life but I learnt a lot. I learnt never to accept jobs that you don’t like.
Your videos are quite obscure, sometimes grotesque and vividly shocking. How would you describe your style?
I’m not that into violence really, or anything dark, I can’t even stand watching extreme violence in movies, but it’s fun to make. It’s also so much simpler than most subjects. If you shoot someone in the head, it’s 99% sure they’re gonna die, it’s not that complex, it’s an easy way to start learning the film making process. Most people start with love, but for me love is a million times harder than a fight or a chase scene. As for my style, none of them are intentional.
What’s your favorite shot from all of your videos?
I use to think that opening shot in the Gaika video, where you see the hooded characters for the first time, with the camera slowly pushing in, backlit and covered with fog was the best shot I’ve ever taken, or when I blew up a car, but now it’s actually this one shot from the Gravedgr video, it was the close up of the first girl running away from the killer, the first time I saw it in the edit, it affected me so much, of just how jarringly close it all of a sudden got, and her emotions, when you see a woman’s face up close, almost staring at the camera with just the right light and emotion, no amount of extras, crane shot, landscapes or explosion can beat that, it is the most beautiful thing in the world.
Tell us about your process when collaborating with music artists for videos? Do you have your own vision, do you work with the artist, do you consider the song?
Most of the time the artist just leaves me to do anything, so I just put the song on my phone, and walk around the city with some giant headphones, and ideas slowly come in. The rhythm of the song dictates everything.
How did you link up with David Choe? Tell us more about Mangchi and your other projects with him.
One day after a whole day of editing this one commercial, this guy who’s one of the top commercial directors in Manila told me that I reminded him of himself when he was young, and then I started imagining myself as him. It was great for five minutes, then I felt like I was about to throw up. The day after that I quit, I spent the whole week working on this animation for Dave’s band and then just sent it to him, without asking for a job or anything. Four days later, he replied and offered me a job doing whatever the fuck I want as long as it has something to do with him.
We keep on seeing glimpses of videos you shot from all over the world. Can you tell us about that and your relationship with David now?
As much as I want to, most of it is top secret, and I don’t know if it’s gonna be done in two years or 25 years. I don’t have a deadline, which is awesome, but I wanna finish it soon because it physically hurts me if I don’t finish something I start. As for my relationship with Dave, it’s great to have the best artist in the world as your mentor, but getting to know him more, he’s so much more than that, he’s actually a pretty good friend, who’s always just a phone call away, we barely talk about work, we just talk mainly about love and relationships.
You are not only talented but you also have a good work ethic. Is it true that you can sometimes spend days/weeks editing? How do you remain focussed?
I don’t feel like I have to stay focussed. Making videos is my favorite thing to do in my life. There’s really nothing else to stop me from doing it.
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out in video/film?
Start by finding someone you look up to and offer them free work, then not only do it for free, make it really easy for them and do such an awesome job that they can’t even imagine a life without your services.
Once you hook them with how good you are, they will pay anything just to keep you, basically it’s like being a drug dealer.
For people that wanna make music videos, I feel like lately, especially locally, the videos that they make are just a copy of what they see from other people. So now we have a million videos of people in a house party with colored lights.
Don’t limit yourself with your references, you can get ideas in unexpected sources. There’s so many crazy shots you can steal from video games, or anime, especially the editing in anime intros, they’re insane. They’re just different scenes with no endings, cut really fast. Comic books are great sources of characters, wardrobe and scenes too. Also don’t ignore bad movies, or low budget B movies, cause there’s always one scene that’s really interesting, that you can turn into something amazing. Everyone is always looking at good movies, that’s why they all have the same Wong Kar Was rip off shot, or Wes Anderson.
Also one last thing, make videos for songs that are not so good. Anyone can make a good video for a good song, but if the song is just ok, or terrible, it’s a great challenge for you as a film maker to get the viewer to the end of the song.
What can we expect to see from Paco Raterta for the rest of 2018?
A new music video for a very iconic 90’s electronic group featuring Manila’s best band is dropping very soon. Hint : they start fires.
What are some of your favourite videos/films?
Tampopo – Juzo Itami
Hannah and Her Sisters – Woody Allen
Spirited Away – Hayao Mizayaki
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance – Park Chan hook
Ohayo – Yasujiro Ozu
Whisper of the Heart – Yoshifumi Kondō (basically the greatest movie ever made)
Magenta Riddim – Dj snake
Territory – The Blaze
You have collaborated with some of the best Filipino artists. Who should foreigners look out for?
People should look out for Toqa (@toqa.tv) they make clothes, but they’re really way more than that.
Usually fashion videos are really pretentious or boring, it’s always someone looking out a window really emotional for no reason, or a group of friends having fun while walking in slo mo, but if you watch their videos, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before (don’t watch the one I made, its the least awesome one).
Watch “Toqa takes a stroll”. It starts with establishing shots of London, then cuts to a close up of a girl wearing a full Toqa outfit, yawning, and then cuts to her stretching in front of a gate and as the camera zooms out with the music a baby stroller passes by. I mean there’s no way in my life I could’ve written this series of shots, they are little creative geniuses.
For filmmakers, this guy Miguel from the Hernandez Brothers. This guy is like Tony Leung, Gael Garcia Bernal and many more in one person, I just worked with him on my last video and I was really impressed and surprised that he hasn’t become a star yet.
What are you favorite spots in Metro Manila for…
There are a lot of places that look like a classic bookstore, located in some hip place, but nothing really beats this place called BOOK SALE which is in almost every SM mall.
Theres a lot in manila for sure, but the traffic is always terrible that I avoid riding cars at all cost, so I just eat mostly around here in Legaspi. Little Tokyo is fun, this place called Kyo-to is also good, they serve this 10 course meal that’s pretty interesting. But nothing beats eating at home, where my assistant/editor Gon cooks for me. If you want really good filipino food, the best is always home cooked. Also I just wanna say thanks to DJ who is also my assistant/editor for cleaning the dishes, and buying the ingredients.
I don’t drink anymore, but most of the time I bring people to this place called “Your local”. I’ve never tasted the drinks but the people I’m with always say its good.
Everywhere. I fucking dance at Greenbelt, I dance inside BDO. I dance in Legazpi Park. As you can see from all the answers, I have a very exciting life.
Which area of Metro Manila do you like the most and why?
Legazpi village because I live here.
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