“I really feel that this is the funniest one yet, ” acclaimed screenwriter and director Chris Martinez shares about the latest offering from the creative duo behind the now-iconic Ang Babae sa Septic Tank saga.
In a media conference following a two-episode preview, Martinez expressed excitement in making a relevant follow-up to the film series that bridges the three-year gap since the sequel to the historic 2011 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival entry was released–now as Ang Babae sa Septic Tank: The Real Untold Story of Josephine Bracken, sporting a new digital series format through ABS-CBN’s video content sharing platform, iWant.
After its widely-successful initial outing with its hilarious commentary on the independent film industry, Septic Tank out went on to become a cult classic and became one of the most successful independent films ever to be shown at the esteemed film festival, spawning a sequel at the Metro Manila Film Festival five years later, via a satirical look into the mainstream rom-com movie scene.
This time, re-dressing the franchise into a digital series, the film takes on a seven-episode mockumentary on the making of a historical biopic directed by Marlon Rivera, and again enlists the services of veteran comedy queen Eugene Domingo, marking the return of her well-received hyperreal, megalomaniacal version of herself.
“This is fresh and different. This is the most complex out of all that we’ve done in the franchise,” the screenwriter, director said.
When asked about the evolution of the series and delivering its third installment in 2019, Martinez enthused, “Great franchises come in threes. Sabi ko, di puwedeng walang pangatlo. Yung part 3, it came with the dawning of digital platforms like Netflix, iFlix, Hooq. There was a time na nagsi-series binge ako pati si Uge (Domingo). Naisip ko, bakit di natin gawing series yung part 3. And tamang tama, Dreamscape and iWant are looking for content. So, nagpresent kami kaagad kay Sir Deo (Deo Endrinal of Dreamscape Digital) na naka-Powerpoint at naka-outline ang mga episodes and what the series will be all about and then he approved it right away. I think it is because of the excitement for the new platform and iba na kasi ang viewing habits ng audience, kaya we decided to become a digital series. We just want to be there.”
The movie within a series shows Domingo as the ambitious, entitled first-time director, who unknowingly spreads herself thinly as director, producer, and actress playing the role of Jose Rizal’s Irish love interest Josephine Bracken.
“I really looked for the most absurd character na puwedeng gampanan ni Eugene sa roster ng mga historical characters natin. Not only that, it’s a way for us to comment on historical revisionism, how we appropriate facts and historical events to fit our needs. Nandun tayo sa era na binabaluktot natin ang katotohan para ma-achieve kung ano ang gusto nating mangyari. Sa series na ‘to yun ang tanong. Kung guilty ba siya o hindi para lang ma-achieve ang pangarap niya,” Martinez added.
“Josephine Bracken is a very mysterious character. Ang ganda ng character niya kasi hindi bastang diretsong mayumi, mabait, o kahit maganda lang siya. Maraming magandang pag-aralan sa kaniya,” the 47-year-old award-winning actress said about her roles. “At si Eugene Domingo dito, hindi naman talaga nagpapatawa. Sadyang nakakatawa lang talaga yung mga pinaggagagawa niya.“
Joining her, in their are other actors who gamely took on the surrealistic “versions” of their actual selves like Tony Labrusca, who plays the film version of Jose Rizal, Mylene Dizon and Joanna Ampil who play the actresses portraying Rizal’s sisters, Narcisa and Saturnina. Writer and diretor Jose Javier Reyes, meanwhile, portrays himself, working as Direk Uge’s collaborator and screenwriter.
Domingo also takes pride in being at home with the young demographic of moviegoers that Septic Tank attracted that she believes would translated into would-be viewers of the intelligent comedy.
“I’m very happy that the majority of millennials are open to these kinds of platforms and themes and I am very confident of my millennial followers na makaka-relate sa ganitong material,” the Kimmy Dora lead actress added.
“The way the storytelling was designed was something innovative and fresh, which was welcomed by the younger people. So sila talaga ang open sa alternative na paraan ng mga kuwento. Yung una, and pangalawa, ‘meta’ sila eh. Itong pangatlo, ‘fake documentary’ naman. So, the younger ones, and of course the film enthusiasts, are the ones na open for these kinds of alternative storytelling,” Martinez shared.
“I think this is something that we made for the younger generation. Nung sinusulat ko sya, this is meant for the young ones. It’s your time. Kayo naman. Pwede naman nang ipasa ang torch para ipagpatuloy ang paglaban para sa katotohanan. That’s what the series is about. For the young ones to realize what’s happening around you and be more critical of what’s happening around you,” he added.
To support historical facts referenced in the series, Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo joins the team to show viewers true stories pertaining to the historical characters.
“I think the millennials are more woke, or ‘mulat’ in terms of our history. They’re very in touch with our history and the historical characters. Puwedeng daanin sa humor or sa memes na nakakatawa. But I think they are very much in touch with what happened in the past and want to know more about our history. Even the books of Ambeth Ocampo, annual bestsellers, eh. So, merong yearning for history,” he noted.
Martinez also highlights how the franchise is not only created to elicit laughter but a mission to spark meaningful dialogue on important issues. “Every Ang Babae sa Septic Tank is a cautionary tale. First part is a warning for independent filmmakers na wag magpapadala sa ating ambisyon na parang nag-eexploit na tayo ng mahihirap in the guise of poverty porn. The second one is actually for the movie industry, ganito na lang ba ang gagawin natin? Romcom na lang ng romcom? Wala na bang iba? Itong pangatlo is about history. We should be careful in how we present truth and reality, in any art form: on film, in our stories, and especially TV. Isa syang babala na alamin natin ang tunay na nangyari at wag nating baluktutin ang mga nangyari.”
Before the seven-episode series drops on iWant, users can watch the first two Ang Babae sa Septic Tank movies for free on the streaming service. Stream Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 3, produced by Quantum Films and Dreamscape Digital, starting July 17 on the iWant app (iOs and Android) or on iwant.ph.