The story of RED by Jay Abello

Back in 2009, I spent the New Year’s writing. For a week I stayed inside my room and wrote a script of 140 pages by hand. It was my way of saying fuck you to people who have tried to destroy me and my reputation.  I wrote and wrote and wrote…about real people, mostly real events from my life, picked up stuff from here and there. I knew what I felt and what I wanted to say and the rest was fiction.  And that was such great therapy.   Needless to say, I didn’t write Red as a movie I wanted to shoot.  I was just so angry and I needed to write something.

A year later, I stumbled upon Red and was saw some things I wanted to fix in the script so I did.  The story felt right even the year later. I still liked it. Every year for 5 years, I went back to it for a full week, sat down and did serious rewrites. On the 3rd year, I changed the title to Radyo Drama.  I passed it in Cinemaone Originals. It didn’t get in the final 10.  Later, someone back out or something and they called me to field Radyo Drama and I asked for a day to think about it.  I was about to fly to Cebu the next day for the opening of the first Cebu International Documentary Film Festival. My documentary film Pureza would be the opening film.  I spent the day calling every friend in the industry asking if they were available for an October shoot. At that time, Radyo Drama was going to be shot in Ilonggo, all in Bacolod.

That night in Cebu, a dear friend Joanna Arong picked me up and brought me to a shoot before heading out for drinks. It was a Cinemaone Originals shoot and there I was watching one of the finalists shooting already.  That night I backed out of the race because we knew we couldn’t shoot the movie in Bacolod in October because it was Masskara month. You couldn’t get anyone during Masskara—they’re all busy working.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done—saying no to P1M to do your film.  But that night also, when we went out, I met Mercedes Cabral for the first time. And we talked about surfing and movies.  I remember texting her the following day telling her “I hope to work with you in the near future.”  Two years later we would be shooting RED together.


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