LOS ANGELES—Don’t look now, but Lea Dizon, director of the Tagalog film Delikadesa, is out to make her presence felt in Hollywood.
The charming beauty recently had a successful world premiere of her short thesis film at the USC Eileen Norris Theater here in Los Angeles.
“It has been an incredible journey for me, and I thank God for everything!” exclaimed the passionate filmmaker when she spoke at the University of Southern California Norris Theater.
The long-haired Filipina charmer, who took her master’s degree in film from USC School of Cinematic Arts, could not help but be emotional since she encountered many challenges in the process of making the film a reality.
First, she had to raise $20,000 to do her short thesis film. A graduate of the University of the Philippines, Lea also wrote everybody she knew to raise money for her to be able to enroll at USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she dreamt of taking up her masters in film. “I wrote to everybody I knew and did not know,” she confessed. In fact, one of her donors was no less than Megastar Sharon Cuneta.
The indefatigable, hardworking, and persistent filmmaker pointed out, “No donation was too small or too big. When somebody gave $6, he just bought one of our crewmembers one of his or her 10 meals during the shoot. About 30 people helped to make this film. [A] $110 donation enabled me to buy a can of film—leaving me with just 16 cans left to purchase. [A] $275 donation bought an hour of the eight hours that I needed to transfer the movie from film to high definition. [A] $1,000 donation helped me rent the Super 16 camera.”
She stressed, “I am grateful to everybody who extended help to me to make my dream come true. Together, we made this movie a dollar at a time. Making this film is the best graduation gift I ever received.”
The first time I met Lea was at a screening of a Filipino movie in Los Angeles. Lea later invited me to the screening of her directorial debut, a short comedy titled How to Eat Bacon at USC. Very passionate and dedicated to her craft, Lea directed another short, a comedy-love story called Angel’s Bread, which was co-produced by another Filipina, Pia Chikiamco.
“I would love to be known as a Filipino filmmaker in Hollywood,” the Angeles City native disclosed.
Delikadesa, a short Tagalog film set in Manila in the conservative 1980s, is about a young teenage boy’s engagement to his pregnant girlfriend and how a series of circumstances causes him to decide whether the right thing to do is the wrong way to go.
Lea explained, “My thesis film is an earnest, charming, poignant movie set in Manila. Eighteen-year-old Paolo is about to go to his engagement dinner to his pregnant girlfriend. While the two families are going crazy trying to plan the wedding and his life, all Paolo wants to do is to tell them that he does not want to get married. It’s a family drama, a comedy of errors, and a coming-of-age film about learning that sometimes doing the wrong thing is the right thing to do.”
She added, “This film will be submitted to film festivals in the US and abroad. It is my hope that this film not only open doors for me as a filmmaker, but will also give honor to my country.”
For this dedicated Pinay filmmaker, nothing is impossible.
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(Photos by Ruben V. Nepales)