Many may not know this but the exceptional actress Bela Padilla does not only show her wares on screen. In fact, she exhibits quite a prolific creative prowess off-screen as well—first as a screenwriter, credited in such movies as “10,000 Hours” featuring Robin Padilla, “Luck At First Sight,” which she starred together with Jericho Rosales, and “Last Night” topbilled by Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga.
Now, Bela has taken an even bigger role—a rare opportunity wherein she is the lead star, director, and screenwriter for the film “366,” in which she shares casting credits with Zanjoe Marudo and JC Santos.
In this Metro Chats interview on the FYE Channel’s Kumu account, Bela said that she had been involved in creating films for other production houses. In these stints, she said she had been told a lot of times to try her hand at film directing, on top of being the screenwriter, since she could easily turn her vivid scripts into astonishing frames onscreen. She admitted she was reluctant at first to sit on the director’s chair, since she said she thought she wasn’t ready, having not enough background on the craft. While on lockdown during the pandemic, she realized, “You can’t guarantee what tomorrow brings in your life...I gave myself a chance and allowed myself to believe that I really could do it.”
Bela shared that she made sure to prepare well for this first-time stint, by doing some self-studying. She read all the books she thought would help her, even the ones no one recommended. She has also done so much preparation by doing pre-production work, such as daily shot listings with her cinematographer. After a prayer with the whole production team to start filming, Direk Bela would then lay down ground rules on the set, mostly benefitting the cast and crew—particularly one that allows them to take breathers for five minutes when they are frustrated or tired. As such, they became more stress-free as they did scenes. Bela noted that the “366” set is one of the happiest she has ever worked in.
Bela revealed that she wrote the scripts without thinking that she was actually going to act in her work. But as the project was about to go into full steam, the pandemic happened, putting the production to a halt, with Bela almost giving up when filming had been postponed many times. But when restrictions were eased, Bela finally had the chance make this artistic dream come true, which makes her at par with industry legends in overseeing all the essential creative processes in film production.
“366,” she shared has three main characters—June portrayed by Bela, Marco, played by Zanjoe, and JC as Pao. It revolves around a tragic love story on dealing with grief and learning how to love again after a failed relationship. The film title is based on the days of a leap year, which was when the story unfolded. She thanked Zanjoe and JC for arranging their schedules to be part of her film.
Bela also said she realized that working behind the scenes is definitely much more demanding than acting in front of the camera, since the creative team needs to take their work off the set, devoting hours or days to complete their tasks. She likewise said that her experience as a writer and director taught her to properly handle her own personal life, such as dealing with frustrations and facing ordeals without panicking.
Catch more of Bela’s insightful interview on Metro Chats in this video.
Metro Chats is a one-on-one interview with former Metro cover girls and other trending celebrities and personalities. Catch them on FYE Channel's official Kumu account (@FYEChannel) every Thursday at 7PM, hosted by Metro Editor-in-Chief Geolette Esguerra. You may also binge-watch past episodes on TFC.tv.