On a gloomy Thursday afternoon, less than a week before the release of his first feature film, director JP Habac stood against the Pasig skyline, all groomed and suited up for our shoot. It’s no easy feat; making a full-length film. All the months spent in production can be tiring so he deserves this mini break, and maybe (possibly), self-reflection.
Lucky number seven: Seven years after his graduation, JP Habac finally released a feature film he can proudly say, “akin ito.”
It all started in 2006 when he watched a thesis defense of the UP Film Institute students. “Yung Hapis ni Mark Dela Cruz yung thesis film na talagang naalala ko, pero sa Oropronobis ni Lino Brocka yung na-inspire akong mag-shift.” He took up Biology, then Geography, before finally taking up Film in the University of the Philippines. It wasn’t an easy process for him, but he knew that this was what he wanted. “Napag-iwanan na ako, marami sa mga kaibigan ko na may ginagawa na. Basta ako isa lang alam ko, gusto ko gumawa ng pelikula.”
Seven years after his graduation, at the age of 29, JP finally released his first feature film, I’m Drunk, I Love You (IDILY). Even before IDILY, JP has directed and written short films including Oktopus and Maria, which won Best Short Film during the Cinema One Originals Film Festival in 2016.
Forward thinking: This won’t be the last you will hear of JP Habac.
IDILY stars Maja Salvador, Paulo Avelino, Dominic Rocco, and Young STAR columnist Jasmine Curtis-Smith. The story is about two best friends, Carson and Dio, and the former’s seven-year-long unrequited love for the latter. It follows their adventures of self-discovery and love, four days before college graduation. But we need to warn you straight up that this isn’t a love story. “Gusto ko talaga magpakita ng sine na totoo at yung mapapaisip ka. Marami na tayong mga cute na pelikula. I wanted to make a film that would challenge and break RomCom norms,” he shares. The music he chose for the film will hit you right in the feels. Local favorites Ang Bandang Shirley, Parokya ni Edgar, and the 3D (Johnoy Danao, Ebe Dancel, and Bullet Dumas) were tapped to really emphasize pain of heartbreak and heartaches.
The whole idea of IDILY started from the usual nightly drinking sessions of JP and his friends, “Alam mo na yan, inuman tapos may kaibigan kang masyadong nalasing, tapos sinigaw niya yung mga salitang yan.” His friend happened to be confessing her love for some guy. With that drunken proclamation, he sought to create something out of it. After two years of conceptualization, and several scrapped Post-it notes, he tapped fellow screenwriter Giancarlo Abrahan to work with him on the script.
In between takes and touch-ups, we caught up with the JP to further discuss the film, its soundtrack, and how Young STAR found itself in the film.
Looking up: Director JP Habac and actor Paulo Avelino talk feelings and alcohol in the film I’m Drunk, I Love You.
Young STAR: Hey JP, how are you? How does it feeling finishing your first feature?
I’ve just been tired with all the promotions. Finishing a film can be really nerve-wracking and overwhelming. Dati, part lang siya ng Sine Filipino so maliit pa yung dreams namin for it. Overall, sobrang happy ako and thankful.
We heard that you included Young STAR in the film. What’s the story?
Dati sa mga inuman sessions naming magkakaibigan, may kaibigan kaming nasa industriya na nang matagal. Yung mga batchmates niya, na-fefeature na sa Young STAR maliban sa kanya. May kaibigan kami na nagsabi sa kanya, ‘Ayan tingnan mo yang si B, ang tagal tagal na sa industriya hindi pa rin na-fefeature sa Young STAR.’
I remembered that and incorporated it in Dio’s character. Since he’s a graduating film student, tapos may mga batchmates na siya na gumagawa na ng sine at na-feature na din sa Young STAR. In the film, Carson wanted to console Dio, so she would joke, “Okay lang yan kahit hindi ka pa na-fefeature sa Young STAR. Yung mga tipo mo naman pang Young ABANTE mga ganyan. Ganyan ko siya pinasok.
Given the premise of the movie, did you want the soundtrack of the film to really feature some of our favorite local artists?
Oo. I’m a really big fan of musicals and musical films. Nung na-uso ulit yung Begin Again and Once, I wanted to make one of my own. Ginusto kong gumawa ng sine na purely OPM artists lang ginagamit ko. Since marami sa mga kaibigan ko nasa creative industry, mas naging madali sa akin na maghanap ng musicians at artists. Like Juan Miguel Severo (Gege) is a good friend of mine from college. Game siya agad and he knows how to sing. Kilala si Ge sa pagiging spoken word artist pero dati singer talaga yan. Na-miss ko yun kaya naisip ko din, ‘ba’t di natin ibalik?’ For the others like Ang Bandang Shirley and the 3D’s, talagang personal favorites ko sila.
“Sana. Gusto ko din maisip ng mga tao na, hindi dahil hindi sila or kayo nagkatuluyan, hindi na siya happy ending. Minsan o kadalasan, may mga happy ending din na nagsisimula sa sarili.”
Why was the road trip important for the two friends? Do you advise that one should take someone they like out on a trip?
Pwede (laughs). Personally, I love to travel. Kapag nagtra-travel tayo, may goal tayo na gusto i-settle within ourselves. So between the two characters, they wanted to settle their feelings for one another. Meron nga ba talaga? Before graduating, Carson wants to graduate from her feelings for Dio as well.
Do you think this film will encourage people more to speak up about their feelings?
Sana. Gusto ko din maisip ng mga tao na, hindi dahil hindi sila or kayo nagkatuluyan, hindi na siya happy ending. Minsan o kadalasan, may mga happy ending din na nagsisimula sa sarili.
Shot on location at Privato Hotel
Styled by MJ Benitez
Photography assisted by Arabella Paner
Styling assisted by Andrea Mojica
JP’s Grooming by Eddiemar Cabiltes
Produced by Marga Buenaventura and Ina Jacobe
Sittings by Belle Toledo
I’m Drunk, I Love You is showing in select theaters nationwide.