Xian Lim cuts half of comedy flick 'Hello Universe' for theatrical release

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Jan 25 2023 09:07 PM

MANILA -- The comedy-fantasy film, “Hello, Universe,” the latest directorial project of Xian Lim, was shortened to one and half hours from its original running time of three hours.

“Nalungkot ako that I had to cut the film,” Lim told ABS-CBN News. “Masakit magtanggal half of what you already shot.

“What was left was one hour 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes of credits. My mom saw the first cut which was three hours.

“I idolize the stars of ‘Hello, Universe’ and I gave them the freedom to do the jokes and have fun while shooting. Riot ang nangyari.

“Of course, we had to take care of the length for a comedy film. I still hope to show the director’s cut of the film one day.”

“Hello, Universe” premiered early this week, with Lim and the star-studded cast in attendance. The film started its regular theater run today.

Janno Gibbs topbills the comedy flick, with Anjo Yllana, Benjie Paras, Gene Padilla and sexy stars Sunshine Guimary and Maui Taylor. They all attended the premiere at SM Megamall Cinema.

Although Lim’s girlfriend Kim Chiu has yet to see “Hello, Universe,” the actor-director said his mother and grandmother had proudly seen the film.

“Kim is used to seeing and hearing different concepts from me every time,” Lim said. “I’m really excited for her to see ‘Hello, Universe.’

“I watched it more than a hundred times already. I was gauging the reaction of those who have seen the film. I can’t wait to see the feedback from the audience.”

“Hello, Universe” is inspired by Lim’s life. Since he also wrote the screenplay, it was easy to weave incidents that happened in his life from the time he was a teenager who started playing basketball.

The family of lead star Janno Gibbs, who plays Ariel Dasalan in the story, his mom and his lola, hewed closely to Lim’s life.

“Even the hardcourt jokes, how I felt when I was playing basketball, my dream of becoming a professional basketball player, those were all about me,” Lim shared. “The concept of ‘Hello, Universe’ was about me.

“I have a funny bone that not a lot of people know about. They look at me as somebody who is serious, even suplado. But I have a comic side. All the jokes and the gags, kaya ko ‘yan.”

Lim even made cameo appearances in “Hello, Universe,” where he played different, funny characters.

Also making special appearances were former PBA superstars Allan Caidic, Jerry Codiñera and EJ Feihl as basketball players in the comedy-fantasy flick.

“It’s such an honor to be working with Janno and Anjo,” Lim admitted. “They were my comedy idols when I was still younger.

“It was such an honor to be graced by their presence. They brought their years of experience in the industry to this material that we have.”

Lim was on tenterhooks during the premiere.

“I am more nervous with my directorial film than when I’m only starring in one,” he explained. “Everything is my fault if I am a director.

“Just having to put together all the elements and making all your actors work, explaining everything to them. At the same time, keeping your audience engaged.

“I’m sort of to blame for everything in the movie when something goes wrong. The responsibility is mine. I am looking forward to the actor’s performances and I hope I capture everything perfectly.”

After a decade in the acting arena, where he starred in mostly romantic comedies and light dramas, Lim did his Cinemalaya directorial debut in the crime-drama-mystery, “Tabon” (2019).

“I guess ‘Tabon’ was more personal,” Lim admitted. “No one was dictating on you. You are not catering to anyone but your artistry. But for ‘Hello, Universe,’ I want to cater to plenty of people.”

He had succeeding directorial projects that came along. There was the series, “Pasabuy” (2021) for an online streaming platform.

He also did an adaptation of “Ibong Adarna,” told through the eyes of puppets and produced by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

In his future projects, Lim expresses his desire to work with such veteran stars as Christopher de Leon, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor, whom he considers the “pillars of the industry.”

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