'On the Job' team talks about gangsters and politicians in PH

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2021 11:04 PM

"On The Job: The Missing 8" Director Erik Matti with Dennis Trillo, Quark Henares, Dondon Monteverde, Ernest Escaler and Paolo Bertolin. Photo from Matti's Instagram page

MANILA - The team behind the film "On The Job: The Missing 8" talked about gangsters and politicians in their new film, which they admitted may have been a dangerous choice.

The 208-minute film tackles a real-world predicament in today's media as journalists Sisoy Salas (John Arcilla) and Arnel (Christopher de Leon) seek the truth behind fake news and show how easily "truth" can be manufactured and disseminated to the public.

Eight individuals, all linked to a newspaper, disappeared one day, and a hired killer on the loose, inmate Roman (Dennis Trillo), holds vital evidence to this dark incident.

When asked about their decision to work on a film with a strong political statement, Director Erik Matti said he wanted to work on genre he has never done before, without really intending on making it political.

"The initial idea, no matter how socio-political the stands of my films get, it all starts with what type of cinema do I want to do this time around, and a lot of it comes from the gangster genre, also together with that, and hitting two birds with one stone, you also have the investigative, all the president's men, insider, Michael Mann kind of feel which I haven't done in any of my films," Matti said during the press conference before the world premier of "On The Job: The Missing 8" in the Venice International Film Festival Friday.

"I'm just glad to be able to put something so serious and so political and even to the point of dangerous into something converted into cinema, into a genre. Maybe that's the reason we're not in danger, because at the end of the day when they watch it, they get entertained by a film and not really focus on who's who in there," he added.

"I just realized now, because Erik likes gangster films and political thrillers, but in the Philippines, the gangsters are the politicians. So that's something that's very unique, right, to the country," Quark Henares of Globe Studios joked.

"We'll wait when we get to the airport. This may be my last laugh," Matti also said.

About the possibility of another sequel to the film, Matti said they just decided to finish the film as it is in real life - with a lot of unfinished business.

"With this one, we never end our films well tied up in a little bow where all the plot points are closed and all the characters have a resolution or all the conflicts are finished. We always end things just like in life where there's a lot of unfinished business with it, and it's not because we really want to go in another sequel but it just feels right for a film, that the film feels like you're just getting a slice of life, of these many characters and their lives continue," he said.

Trillo, who played the role of the inmate Roman, shared how different his role in the film is compared to his previous projects.

"In most of my movies I'm a leading man, with clean looks all the time. But in this film, (Direk Erik) wanted to see me in a look that he's never seen me before in my other projects," he said.

"I just feel so lucky that he picked me. And it's also very different because, in all of my projects, some of my roles need to look cool but Direk Erik wanted me not to be like that, he wanted me to look dumb and stupid," Trillo added.

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The press conference was held two days before the awards night, where Arcilla was named Best Actor.

The film is a sequel to the 2013 film "On the Job" by Matti, which was a huge success in the Philippines, telling the story of prisoners used by the government as hitmen. 

After its world premier last Friday, "On The Job: The Missing 8" was released Sunday, Sept. 12 on HBO GO as part of a 6-episode series.

The film also stars Dante Rivero, Lotlot de Leon, Leo Martinez, Joey Marquez, Vandolph Quizon, Agot Isidro, Eric Fructuoso, Sol Cruz, Lao Rodriguez, Andrea Brillantes, Isabelle de Leon, Ina Feleo, Megan Young, Levi Ignacio, and Carlos Siguion-Reyna.