by RICA AREVALO
Modern zombie movies and series have sprung up. There’s AMC’s The Walking Dead, the hilarious Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, World War Z, the Korean hit film Train to Busan. Now Mikhail Red’s Block Z is coming to cinemas on Wednesday (Jan. 29).
Mik, the son of Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner Raymond Red, is on a roll amassing projects from both local movie studios to international ones like Netflix and HBO.
“I have the flexibility to choose my projects, the freedom to control my pace,” says the 28-year-old filmmaker, adding that he has made it a point not to be tied down to any exclusive contract. “I’m open when a big opportunity comes knocking, and I can dictate my own rates and value, and decide how to build my own brand.”
He teams up with his younger brother, editor Nikolas, in this zombie outbreak campus thriller. “We grew up watching the same films so he is familiar with my language and my references,” he muses. “He is a very talented guy, and he also edited my other genre projects: Dead Kids and Eerie.”
How did he convince ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. to diversify genres and produce a zombie film? “Supporting these genre projects will encourage studios to invest more. These films should be made and there is an audience out there who will support the genre,” says the 2016 Best Film winner in the Asian Future section of the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival. “If these projects fail, they will just stick to regular programming and we will have to resort to Hollywood films for our genre tastes.”
During the shoot, lead stars Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto were marred with intrigues. “I was very fortunate that despite personal circumstances, Joshua and Julia remained professional on set and delivered strong performances right up to the end of production,” he says. “These two young actors may have come from the ‘love team’ structure but what sets them apart is that they have proven themselves in genres outside of rom-com and drama, showing their dedication and versatility.”
Mik has no regrets with his career path. “Dropping out of college to pursue filmmaking full time felt risky,” he confesses. “Not signing exclusivity deals for financial security with big studios felt risky, but I believe that in order to take a big leap, you must remove your safety rope.”
He is currently filming his first miniseries project, Halfworlds Season 3, for HBO. “I am lucky that the HBO series I’m working on is about Filipino folklore, so the voice and milieu are still very Filipino,” says the Birdshot director.
Mik maintains a relaxing, chill atmosphere on his production whether it’s a local or international project. “I like having a fun and light set, even if we’re working on tough genre projects with many components and aspects,” he quips. “I always maintain the Filipino family atmosphere.”
An avid Star Wars fan, he eyes Hollywood with awe and optimism. “I’m working with my management in 3 Arts Entertainment and my agent in Paradigm to find the perfect English language project for me,” adds Mik, who has been receiving open directing assignments and scripts to pursue his upcoming international projects. “I will fly back to the US for more meetings in the coming months.”
We hope a future Oscar nomination will be in his destiny, too.