History: gossip well told. ~Elbert Hubbard
It always fascinated me that in our country, much of history is told through great storytelling, and not through real hard core facts. If we go back to the last 3 decades, the most significant parts of our history have been told by media, documentary filmmakers, writers and the best storytellers. How many of us really know the story of the Marcos era? Where did we base our version of the story? Do we even remember where we heard it from? The Ninoy Aquino assassination. Nobody until now really knows the real story there. I’ve always believed that unless you were there when something happened, you will never know the real story. In the end, the best storyteller wins and his version will stand and will stay on. It becomes “HIS story”.
And we all love this process. We are part of the approval of history. We approve it based on our expert opinion—of what seems plausible to us. Or what version did we like. The relationship of the storyteller and the audience becomes symbiotic. Storytellers are there because we want them to tell us stories, every day. We enjoy it. We approve it. And we encourage them.
Ever heard the saying “story is king?” Yep. Guilty. I love watching and listening to stories and good storytellers. And I also love telling stories.
The whole story of Red would be told by a storyteller within the film. His name is Milton and we follow his story, his narrative. And this made casting the storyteller one of the biggest and major decisions in the film. He was going to be our voice and an extension of the director, the actors and just the whole film… was going to be in his hands.
In the beginning, I chose Joel Torre. He was the great Ilonggo actor. I doubt there is any actor who hails from Negros bigger than him now. The moment I got in Cinemaone, I called him and he turned it down due to health reasons. I couldn’t find a replacement. And I think it wasn’t because there weren’t any good actors out there, because there are a lot. I just couldn’t let go of Joel playing Milton in my head. So I could never cast someone in his age bracket. I was always looking for Joel so we sort of went round and round with casting Milton.
After a while, I decided wait a minute, maybe a younger actor would be interesting—more energy and vulnerability. And I wanted one with comic timing. There was this one actor that I’ve had on my mind for a while already. I didn’t like him in his starring role, the first film I’d seen him on. I can’t get why but I just didn’t. So back then, I had brushed him off as an actor already. And then I would see him in another film where he played a gay role, and another 2 or 3 short films and he was really really good that I said to myself, I want to work with this guy.
Long story short, he wasn’t our first choice, but Nico Antonio was the one I fought for the most. Did he deliver the goods so-to-speak? I’ll be biased saying that he did so you be the judge.