'Nagbunga na': The journey that led to the rebirth of 'Cattleya Killer'

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at May 14 2023 07:03 PM

The cast and creative team of 'Cattleya Killer' pose for a photo during its advance screening on May 12. Prime Video Philippines
The cast and creative team of 'Cattleya Killer' pose for a photo during its advance screening on May 12. Prime Video Philippines

MANILA — After “Cattleya Killer” was screened at the MIPCOM Cannes in France in October last year, the producers received the great news four days later that the crime drama series would be carried by Prime Video.

However, the information had to be kept under wraps for a long time. “Ang tagal na secret and I’m glad that it’s no longer a secret,” producer Ruel Bayani told ABS-CBN News. “Now, we can tell everybody about it.”

“’Cattleya Killer’ has a dream cast with the dream staff and production crew. Kinukurot ko ang sarili ko. Para kasi akong nananaginip.”

Bayani, who is also the head of ABS-CBN International Productions, cannot be thankful enough that the producing partner, Nathan Studios, is likewise supportive.

“Sila Sylvia Sanchez, napaka-supportive na partners,” Bayani said. “Wala na akong mahihiling pa. Bukod sa kaibigan, sila ay tutok at collaborative na partner. That was the reason kung bakit naging successful itong collaboration na ito.”

“Cattleya Killer” was met by “a very warm audience” at Cannes.

“Siguro hindi na kailangan mag brag kami kasi after only four days, we got a platform,” Bayani said. “That only means it was a huge thing for us having the face of a Filipino representing our country.”

When they first did “Cattleya Killer,” the production wasn’t sure if they could sell the series. “I didn’t imagine that ‘Cattleya Killer’ would be absorbed by an important platform like Prime Video,” Bayani said.

“But we are here today simply because everything aligned para ‘yung lahat ng efforts namin and ang paghihirap namin ay napunta sa ganito.”

Four days after Cannes, they got the call from Prime Video. “October pa lang, we already knew Prime Video would show the series, but we had to keep it a secret because we couldn’t divulge it,” Bayani said.

“We kept the secret for a long time, from October to May. Hindi namin pwedeng ma-share. Hindi pwedeng mag-leak. We contained the kilig and the excitement. Now, finally we can announce the important news.”

“Cattleya Killer” is a sequel to Rory Quintos’ dark crime thriller, “Sa Aking mga Kamay,” topbilled by Aga Muhlach in 1997.

“ABS-CBN owns the intellectual property rights of ‘Sa Aking mga Kamay’,” Bayani said. “So we expanded it into a series.”

On June 1, “Cattleya Killer” will premiere on Prime Video. “I’m so proud of this whole team, the whole cast, the staff, the crew,” director Dan Villegas said. “It’s not every day that you work on a dream project.

“Everything is surreal. Every time I hear the Zsa Zsa Padilla line, ‘Gising!’ That’s what I tell myself.”

After the pilot episode of “Cattleya Killer” was screened recently, Villegas heaved a sigh of relief.

“Sobrang kabado ako sa feedback ng audience,” he said. “I’m so proud of our team. Dream project itong ‘Cattleya Killer.’ I want to thank the cast and crew, Nathan Studios and ABS-CBN for awarding this project to me.”

The director is truly proud about his ensemble casting. “Nakakatuwa that the actors were all very giving. Wala talagang maliit na role. All of them were very giving.”

Producer Sylvia Sanchez was smiling after seeing the fruits of their labor. “After MIPCOM, nakita ko na ang hirap namin at sobrang saya ko,” said Sanchez, who was fully supported by her husband, Art Atayde.

“Nagbunga na ang lahat ng hirap namin. Habang napapanood ko ang Episode 1, sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘Gusto ko pang gumawa ng ganito.’ Ang gagaling lahat ng artista dito.

“Marami talagang magagaling na artista dito sa Pinas. Kailangan lang mabigyan ng pansin. Wow! Ang gagaling ng actors namin. Usap tayo ulit, direk [Bayani],” she said.

Lead star Arjo Atayde plays the character of Anton de la Rosa. “With the guidance of Direk Dan [Villegas], our writer Dodo Dayao and production, watching documentaries, videos and my own research, we were able to create my character,” Atayde said. 

Sharing his acting process, Atayde explained: “I just tried to get into the character and went with the flow based on instinct. There was a lot of analyzing in the beginning especially when Direk Dan was trying to explain how the character should be portrayed.

“Everything was studied and I was helped by the production. It’s pure collaboration between Direk Dan and with my co-actors, colleagues and with everyone’s guidance plus a lot of research on my own.

“That’s my self-study. I’m more of a visual learner in terms of absorbing, so I watched a lot of documentaries, a lot of videos, interviews. With that, I aligned whatever I watched with whatever the personality or character that ‘Cattleya’ demands.”

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According to Villegas, the works of Iranian-French cinematographer Darius Khondji became the main inspiration for most of the visuals in “Cattleya Killer.” 

“We did very minimalist lighting, no over the top shots,” Villegas said. “Those were the visual look that we planned. That was the visual language that we planned. Gusto namin simple, pero rock.”

Bayani announced there are a lot of upcoming projects in the same vein as “Cattleya Killer.” Next is the “Bagman.” They will do an international version in collaboration with the group of director Lino Cayetano and Shugo Praico.

“It’s a growing relationship,” Bayani shared. “We are partnering with Nathan Productions again in ‘Bagman.’ We are excited with the coming projects.”

“In the years to come, you will be watching both original stories and adaptations from ABS-CBN. We will not prioritize IPs [Intellectual Property] from other countries. We will always look for Filipino stories to adapt.”

The ensemble cast of “Cattleya Killer” includes Zsa Zsa Padilla, Ricky Davao, Jake Cuenca, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Ketchup Eusebio, Ria Atayde, Jane Oineza, Nonie Buencamino, Joel Saracho, and Frances Makil.

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