Words by Patricia Yap
Photos by Krizia Joy Rivera
After Filipino filmmaker and director Mikhail Red’s success with Birdshot becoming the first Filipino film picked to stream on Netflix, comes yet another first for the critically acclaimed director—the first ever Filipino original Netflix film, Dead Kids!
Yes, you heard it right, the Philippines now has a Netflix original that is written, directed, produced, shot, and starred by an all-Filipino ensemble.
Dead Kids cast from left to right: Jan Silverio, Kelvin Miranda, Khalil Ramos, Vance Larena, Sue Ramirez, Markus Paterson and Gabby Padilla
During the red carpet premiere by Cinema One Original Film Festival last November, Red and the cast of Dead Kids took to the stage to talk about their upcoming film. Here they shared what it’s like to be the first to reach such a milestone in Philippine cinema, what the best and hardest parts of the whole process were, and their hopes for the film.
Through Netflix, Dead Kids will be able to reach Netflix’s whooping 158+ million subscribers in 190 countries—taking our local films on the global stage!
Dead Kids Director Mikhail Red | @red_mikhail
With the film loosely based on true events about a college kidnapping case, people became curious of Red’s reasons for choosing this as his inspiration for the film.
“I wanted to do that [college kidnapping story] pero I transposed it to high school. Kasi mas vulnerable, mas “coming-of-age” and it deals with so many subjects kasi. It’s my take on the barkada genre. It’s a Filipino staple rin pero I’m adding my own twist and I think it’s a fusion of Western genre crime thriller, but it’s still very Filipino,” he said.
Vance Larena | @vancelarena as Blanco
When asked about the cast’s thoughts on being a part of the first Filipino Netflix original, they were nothing short of thankful.
For Vance Larena, who played the part of Blanco, he said that all of this was like a “dream come true”.
“Ito kasi yung panaginip na parang […] gusto ko sana dito na lang ako parati,” he said. “And to think na it’s the first Filipino Netflix original film ay isang malaking karangalan. Kasi biruin mo ni-rere present namin yung Pilipinas. At sana magustuhan niyo; hindi lang ng mga Pilipino, pati na ang buong mundo,” Larena added.
Director Mikhail Red
According to Red, since this was his first time making a movie about the youth and working with a bigger cast with more dialogue, he was really proud of the cast he worked with. “I think sila ang nagdadala ng movie na ito,” he said.
Red even noted that he enjoyed the “moral ambiguity” of each character; a common theme in all of his film’s characters. “I like dealing with very morally ambiguous characters kasi parang kang nag na navigate ng ‘moral mine field’, and it’s throwing the question sa audience, diba? ‘What would you do if you were in their situation?”, he added.
Together with this, the cast couldn’t help but feel grateful to each other for the memories they formed, as well as how easy it was working with each other and direk Mikhail on set.
Jan Silverio (left) and Kelvin Miranda (right) as Sta. Maria
Jan Silverio, who played Uy, said, “Super fun, super fun! Siguro it really helped na we really bonded. We’re like one big barkada everytime we’re on set, so it didn’t feel like work at all.”
Larena added, “Itong grupo na toh, kahit first time namin magkakatrabaho […] hindi naging hadlang yun para mabuo yung samahang nabuo na meron kami ngayon. Parang itong samahan na nabuo namin sobrang solid na feeling namin forever na.”
Jan Silverio, Kelvin Miranda and Vance Larena
Silverio then added that working with direk Red was “super chill” because Red is “the kind of person that knows what he’s doing and what he wants, but at the same time he gives his actors the freedom to attack their characters.”
Markus Paterson as Chuck and Sue Ramirez as Janina
But it wasn’t all fun and games. The cast also shared the hard parts that came with shooting, as well as with acting out a film that was “unusual” from films usually shown made in the Philippines.
Kelvin Miranda, the actor for Sta. Maria, said that he found it difficult to portray his role as Sta. Maria is very introverted in contrast to his extroverted self. As for Silverio, since this is his first ever film experience, he had trouble adjusting, especially with co-actors that already knew what they were doing. “Ako lang yung newbie sa film. So, siguro yun yung pressure; yun yung hardest part in adjusting to a new environment,” said Silverio.
Khalil Ramos as Paolo and Gabby Padilla as Yssa
Khalil Ramos, who played Paolo and Gabby Padilla, who played Yssa both shared the same sentiment that the scenes where “sh*t hit the fan” was the hardest because it was unlike anything any of them ever experienced before; and so they needed to make everything feel real.
“I don’t recall having a teenage heist film in my generation—a local one. So, to be able to do that, and for it to be picked up by Netflix to be the first Netflix original film is crazy. It’s very different. So we hope that translates in the film, and we hope that the audience feels that sense of freshness from the material,” said Padilla.
Director Mikhail Red
Wrapping up the event, the Dead Kids cast and Director Red just hope that the message in the film translates to the audience.
“I take inspiration from events that disturb me and I hope [the film] disturbs my audience as well, because that’s how you get people to move and act: when they’re uncomfortable with [the] status quo,” said Red.
Through this event, we got to see how much passion and authenticity Red and the cast poured in the making of this film. It’s refreshing to see a cast not only be a barkada on set and in the film, but in real life as well. And aside from the technical difficulties the whole team had to face, they even braved possible criticisms that would come from showcasing an “unusual” film.
Dead Kids is now showing on Netflix.
Dead Kids Film