Industria: A Tell (Almost) All With Film Director JP Habac
I’m Drunk, I Love You director JP Habac dishes on struggle, success and the sequel
Apologetic and quite flustered, I’m Drunk, I Love You director JP Habac came to meet me on a Thursday afternoon at Toby’s Estate in Shangri-La Plaza. Quite frankly (and a little selfishly), I was thankful he was running late; it gave me extra time to prepare for the interview. His 2017 film, after all, is one of my favorite Pinoy flicks and getting the opportunity to sit down with him was a welcome chance that still presented as a challenge.
I first learned of JP Habac as the credits rolled for I’m Drunk, I Love You. I ran into him on the premiere night of GOYO: Ang Batang Heneral, where my editor-in-chief made the introductions. Even then, a smile spread across my face at the opening for a feature.
While JP quickly became a household name in 2017, I learned off-the-bat that his journey was not as painless as it might have seemed. Enrolled first at the University of the Philippines as a pre-med student who took up Biology and then Geography, the would-be director took a General Education class that quite literally changed his life. After his professor had his students view Lino Brocka’s Orapronobis starring Philip Salvador and Dina Bonnevie, JP fell in love in a way that was undeniable. And after a series of odd jobs as a personal assistant, camera caretaker and a member of the art department of a production design team—where he juggled making short films, attending workshops and participating in competitions—he finally landed a job as Assistant Director to veteran Jerrold Tarog. Now he has a sequel in the works and another film premiering in January 16, 2019: Sakaling Maging Tayo, starring Elisse Joson and McCoy de Leon.youtube
You can’t deny it: When passion strikes, there is no letting it slide you by. You act on it; you fuel it—even if it means spending your savings on a short film that will only make it to your reel.
What struck me the most about JP is how completely down-to-earth and simple he is. His stories are inspired by everyday people and relatable experiences, and he lives by “Hangga’t masakit pa, isulat mo lang.” And this is exactly why his body of work hits us all in the heart; he poured out experience after experience and heartbreak and after heartbreak and presented it to us in a theme we could all relate to: unrequited love.
But in a world that is built on choreographing fiction, how can one possibly make something feel so real and so genuine? Without the camera tricks and special effects, it is difficult to hold an audience’s attention simply with dialogue and a few breathtaking shots. To JP, the trick is to let actors act, to give them the freedom to say and move as they feel their characters out and simply capture the scene on film. This, in my opinion, is a simple equation that is far too often overlooked.
The final product of I’m Drunk, I Love You was two years in the making and was delayed by one major setback. But things have a way of falling into place, as they did with JP. When he pitched the story to production house TBA, the green light was granted and they made it to their first shooting day. It all came to a high as JP watched his mother get teary-eyed at his film—completed, finally. And when the Filipino people fought to #SaveIDILY, the film ran for a total of 5 weeks in more than 70 cinemas. If that isn’t success as a film director, then I don’t know what is.
That is, unless you count a clamored-for sequel:
Magandang araw, mga bata!
— JP Habac (@jphabac) October 16, 2018
The sequel, I Love You, I Do, takes part seven years after the original. Carson and Dio, now in their late 20s, are each battling an internal struggle that we might know all too well. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the central characters’ stories are far from over. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long to hear the rest of it.
I Love You, I Do is set to premiere in 2019.
Art Alexandra Lara