LONDON - After two months of back-breaking work, the lean production team of indie film Leona Calderon headed by filmmaker Jowee Morel completed filming in London.
Leona Calderon was just a school project for Morel who is taking a film making course at the University of Greenwich in London. It evolved to become a full-length feature based on real stories of three overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in London.
“They inspired me and I thought of writing about these women in one film,” said Morel.
Leona Calderon showcases the talent of former beauty queen and veteran actress Pilar Pilapil. She plays the character of a retiring elderly woman who earns a living cleaning establishments and private homes.
Leona Calderon is preparing for her retirement in the Philippines when she discovers she has uterine cancer. She is confronted with the dilemma of returning home to her family and spending her savings for her medical treatment or staying in the country where she will get free medication but will be alone and dying.
Pinoy Bayanihan in filming
The film has no budget. But Morel was able to complete the project. He said the Filipino community in London helped him achieve his target.
They are raising money through various fund-raising events for the post-production cost and to be able to recoup the day-to-day expenses while filming in one of the most expensive cities in the world. They are raising 20,000 pounds.
“If there is a miracle child, there is a miracle film. I just had the guts of initiating the film. Pero and nakapag-roll ng project are the people around me. I owe a lot to the Filipino community. Dahil sa kanila talaga. Walang pondo pero nagkaka- van kami for our equipment. Kumakain kami ng masarap everyday. At the same time, we have very giving artists,” said Morel.
Pilapil is also grateful for the support given to the film by her fans and Filcom groups.
“The Filipino community really helped us with our budget because in the first place this film is really all about them. At the same time, we want to encourage not being paid here. We want to encourage young directors, good actors and actresses and be able to establish good films that we can show to the Filipino community and the whole world,” said Pilapil.
Stellar cast and crew
In her first indie film, Pilapil is joined by award-winning British actress Virginia Mckenna, Junix Innocian, Jaciek, Sarah Borges, and Irene Alano-Rhodes.
Morel has only praises for the actors in the film, more so for the lead star Pilar Pilapil.
“I don’t think I could ever get another actress who could play the role. Her versatility is just amazing,” said Morel of Pilapil.
In the interview with ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau during the last day of filming in the London, Pilapil discussed why she agreed to do the film.
-- she introduced her character; narrated the experience of filming in London and shared what to expect from her as an actress.
Leona Calderon is written and directed by Morel who also directed classics such as “Moma,” “Ec2Luv,” “Mga Paru-Parong Rosas,” “Mona, Singapore Escort,” “When A Gay Man Loves,” “Latak,” “HiStory” and “Strictly Confidential.”
Morel initially shot Leona Calderon in 35mm but for logistical reasons, he shifted to digital.
The film is set for special screening in London in December.