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Apocalypse Child Cast Interview – Part 2: “Our sex scene was on the first shoot day, can you imagine???”

Director Mario Cornejo and his cast discuss the horrors of filming on a beach, in Part 2 of our extended interview with the cast of 5***** film APOCALYPSE CHILD

After talking to easternKicks at the Udine Far East Film Festival, we catch up with Mario Cornejo and the cast of his film Apocalypse Child again before it hits screens in Warsaw at the Five Flavours Film Festival. Jump into the water with part 2 of our extended interview with the cast of Apocalypse Child, about a surfing instructor who believes he’s the progeny of Francis Ford Coppola from the filming of Apocalypse Now.

easternKicks: To start with, I’m really intrigued about some of the shots in Apocalypse Child, as the film is very much about the visual experience as it is about the narrative, can you talk to me more about the cinematography? You told me previously it was shot between yourself and a friend, am I right in saying there are some GoPro shots in the film?

Apocalypse Child

Mario: There are only 5 or 6 GoPro shots in the entire film. My favourite is the one where Sid is under the surfboard, with Annicka on top, and he swims underneath and they’re both just there. He thought of it and said, “I always wanted to do this”, and so I said ok. For the GoPro I had a dome, so I could get half in and half out of the water, it’s kind of hard as the lens of a GoPro is quite small so if you’re trying to get the water in the middle, you have to use a dome or some sort of housing to get the shot, the dome is fun!

easternKicks: Where did the idea for a surfing film come from?

Mario: We were researching a very different kind of movie at the time, but it was based in a surfing community. So we went to Baler, it’s a small town in the north east of the Philippines, about 6 hours from where we live. It’s a long drive but when you get there it’s beautiful. When we arrived, we were told the legend of how surfing started in the Philippines, and that’s what we included in the film. That when Apocalypse Now filmed surfing scenes in the country, and when they left, they left behind a surfboard floating in the sea. A fisherman pulled it out and sold it to 5 local boys, and those boys (one of whom we met) eventually became the first surfing champions from the Philippines. When we heard that story, it spoke to us a lot about Hollywood, our colonial past; and Monster (my wife and the producer) came up with this idea that what if instead of leaving behind just a surfboard, the production left behind some children, and one of these children was supposedly the son of Francis Ford Coppola. So based on that, and pouring all my daddy issues on top, and that’s how we came up with the story.

Apocalypse Child

easternKicks: As the story progresses, I thought that it would follow the traditional narrative flows but it ebbed completely differently, and I felt relieved in a way as it was unpredictable. So how long did the film take you to make? You mentioned 5 years in production?

Mario: The whole process took 5 years. We had thought about a different film, and then we got a grant and started writing, that took about a year or two. We kind of half-assed the grant, we kind of got there but didn’t get there as we didn’t fulfil the requirements, but a film competition came up where you submit a script and they give $20,000 to chosen films so as to kick-start production. Monster made me join that so I would finish writing the movie the way I wanted it to be, so she gave me a deadline, and it meant every day in the morning I’d go outside the house with my scriptwriting software and churn out those pages, and hone it into what it was really going to be. From the time that we got into the competition, it took 5 years of script development, and then the time we got the script submitted from until the film was in the theatre only took 6 months. It was very quick.

easternKicks: Do you feel disappointed as you spent so long developing it, and it’s suddenly gone and out there?

Mario: No, I just had to do it! Maybe it was the only way it was going to get done if we went the standard way of long development, long turn around, finding investors…. It would be another reason to drag our feet, so maybe the contest deadline and festival deadline altogether meant no matter what, whatever came out then that was it! That instinct took over us. I’m as happy as I can be; it’s the film I needed to make. In-spite of the fact that I would change everything about it, I’m proud of it.

easternKicks: This isn’t the first time that Monster and yourself have worked together?

Mario: Monster and I met many years ago, we were still studying, but we started working together. We made a short film and made our first feature together, after that we became a couple and made another documentary, then this film. This is our 3rd feature length film together.

Apocalypse Child

easternKicks: Was there anything from previous productions that you brought to the table?

Mario: The first film we made was a light crime comedy, but the second film informed us more, it was Monsters’ documentary. We shot that in a completely different way, and maybe that helped a lot in how we shot this film. If you see the 3 films together, I don’t know what you would feel… I think the only thing we do that’s consistent is that editing is so crucial to our process, which going through 2 years of editing on the documentary really helped.

easternKicks: Apocalypse Child feels more like a drama and documentary and less like an actual fictional film, in the way you’re unobtrusively watching over someone’s shoulder most of the time…

Mario: I talked to my cinematographer and we said, “If it feels like too much filmmaking then we have to cut back. If the camera moves are too distracting…”, and they still are, seeing it recently again there are still parts I would have been a little more relaxed on, but now I know. I had the camera on a steadicam a few times, and it really strikes me as the rest was handheld, and the one shot on the steadicam now really stands out which I wish we held the camera on.

easternKicks: Annicka and Sid, how was it working together on this project?

Annicka: Oh it was awful; I just wanted to kill myself… No it was an incredible experience. It was nice that there were only 6 people in the crew, 6 people on a beach and we really got to bond. We became like a family, which made it very easy to work off each other, it was very collaborative! Sid’s very easy to work with, we jived quite well. I like his style, working with him made me feel very comfortable to experiment and explore and play. Mario is really great to work with, what we basically did is we had a script that we would analyse and then chuck out the window and go. It was a really nice experience, especially as an actor to have that much input.

Sid: It was very easy working on the set, especially as it was all so crazy…

Annicka: Our sex scene was on the first day, can you imagine?

easternKicks: Oh that’s awkward…

Annicka: Actually it’s not! It was the sex scene and we just decided to laugh, it set the scene and we just went and jumped into it. We were so mad at Mario as he shot our whole story in 3 days, all in reverse. We were together, then the relationship going bad, and then not together by the 3rd day. We were getting so into it and he then broke us up!

easternKicks: So do you make a habit of smashing lots of glasses…

Annicka: I loved to smash the glasses in the film, we’re the smashers!

Sid: I only threw two glasses in the final edit, but I don’t think Mario left all the smashes in the film…

easternKicks: How did the two of you find it different shooting on a beach, as opposed to a film set or a studio?

Annicka: It’s hell for the producer…

Sid: It’s heaven for us!

Mario: A lot of the time I’d call the guys on set, and they’d deny this, but they’d look at me and be like “Why are you disturbing us on vacation?” and I had to remind them it’s not a vacation! “I brought you here to work, and I let you relax and drink, but it’s not a vacation!”.

Annicka: Come on guys let’s be honest, it was all just part of the process of getting into role for the film… When you’re not on set, you’d go to the beach or go surf. One thing I was trying to be really careful about was my colour, continuity and not getting burnt so I was constantly covered in sunblock.

Sid: I got my colour in 3 days!

Annicka: It’s a very different set. We were there for a month and I ended up wearing my costume all the time, even when not on set. It wasn’t being on vacation, but it felt very relaxed. Which is what you get when you shoot on a beach!

Sid: They left actually, Mario and Monster left us there for 4 days! The first time I saw them again was Mario standing over me was I was sleeping on the beach going “are you okay?”, and I thought “Noooo, I have to work now…”.

Mario: Shooting on a beach is best. In London you have these beautiful sets, but out there in the Philippines we don’t have that. It’s very common to shoot on beaches, we have the best!


easternKicks: How long did it take you as actors to learn the surfing skills for the film?

Sid: It didn’t take long, but not enough for us to be experts or for Mario to actually use our shots…

Mario: We were hoping that Sid, who’s very athletic, would be passable by the shoot, but in the back of our heads just thought that maybe we’d never actually show him surfing in the film.

easternKicks: Did you have to use another actor then to get the wide shots…?

Mario: Did you see him surf in the film?

easternKicks:… Oh it’s just photos! Yeah! Wow I only just realised you don’t…

Annicka: I think it’s such a nice part though that surfing is a huge thing in Ford’s (Sid) life and the film itself is about surfing, but you never see him surfing.

Mario: and I stole that from The Big Lebowski, there’s this massive bowling tournament coming and you never see a tournament. We knew that in the film they would talk all the time about surfing, but you’d never see it, it’s not important!

Apocalypse Child screens on Thursday 29th August 2019 at Genesis Cinema, London, presented by Filikino. You can purchase tickets here.

Read Part 1 of our interview with the cast of Apocalypse Child here 

About the author

Andrew Daley
News Editor for easternKicks, and a Video Producer for Cycling Weekly based in London, with a passion for East Asian cinema, photography, and the outdoors. Read reviews/articles »
Read all posts by Andrew Daley

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