Director Erik Matti speaks candidly about his acclaimed thriller On The Job, and filmmaking in the Philippines…
The opening film for this year’s Terracotta Far East Film Festival, On The Job could help change the way most perceive film from the Philippines. A gritty action thriller inspired by real scandals, it steadily engrosses you in its tale of two prison inmates hired by the government to carry out hits, and the high-flying young cop who discovers the truth of this corruption is much closer to him than he would like. Warmly received both at home and internationally, the film premiered at the Cannes Director’s Fortnight in 2013, immediately bringing it to the attention of US producers. The (almost) inevitable US remake is currently in pre-production, with Baltasar Kormákur (director of Contraband and 2 Guns) attached.
The film’s director Erik Matti has a solid career behind him with both commercially successful films and advertising, but it’s obvious that this means more to him than much of his previous work. In the Q&A the night before, Matti has proved himself almost as entertaining in person as the film itself. When we meet in the relaxed surroundings of the ICA bar area, Matti is just as welcoming, chatty, candid and often hilarious. Offered the choice of business cards, Matti picks the one backed with Song Kang-ho from The Good, The Bad, The Weird.
[Warning: the following interview contains spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film.]
Can you tell me about the inspiration for On The Job? Where did the idea come from, and how did the film come to be made?
We had the premise for the film maybe 10 or 11 years ago. When I was starting out, on maybe my second or third film, there was a service driver for one of the shoots, this small guy. He told me that he just came out of prison, but while he was inside he made a living by coming out to kill and then going back to prison; and he gets paid like US$120 to kill. So that stuck with me. In fact, after that, maybe a year or two later, I tried to come up with a draft, but only out of me thinking about the story. It was kind of false; a non-stop action movie.
“When I was starting out there was a service driver for one of the shoots, this small guy. He told me while he was in prison he made a living by coming out to kill and then going back in.”
And then later on I went into advertising; I didn’t do movies for around five years. When I wanted to go back into mainstream filmmaking in the Philippines, I wanted to start with that film. It was after I did a small film that I produced on my own, where I only invited friends to see it. It was never shown in theatres, I just sent it to festivals. But attached to that, I made a short trailer of that story; which is the opening of the film, but on a much smaller scale. It’s just too people waiting in a street. But the main actor was already Joel Torre [who would play Tatang in the final film].
So I sent the film around. My small film never made it to many festivals [laughs], but a lot of people reacted to the trailer. And one guy, Todd Brown of twitchfilm.com, contacted me and said, ‘You know I saw this trailer upfront and it’s really good. Is it in production?’ And I said no, I don’t even have a script yet. ‘Why?’ I said, I don’t even know if I have the money to make it. We’re not in Hollywood, where you get paid money to develop a film. You are hired to do a film, and that’s when you start writing the script, otherwise no one’s going to pay you. So he says, ‘Is it okay if I look for financing on this?’ So I said, sure, why not? He tried to steer me towards grants. I sent for half from the Hong Kong Asian Forum, I think, when they give US$10,000. I applied for Puchon/NAFF, also a film fund. None of them reacted to the story. It wasn’t even shortlisted. But by then, Todd says that since he’s looking for funding, it would be best if we had a script.
So at that point I was in advertising. I’d always wanted to go back into filmmaking, so I took a break, maybe six or eight months, and I just wrote the script. Together with that I did some research to find out if it’s really true. And then I talked to two consultants, in the beginning it was only two [it would grow to four, all of whom remain anonymous on the final film for obvious reasons], and I found out a much bigger story. In my initial story, it was a senator who was bringing the prisoners out of prison. The consultant said that is not possible, the penitentiaries are under military jurisdiction, so the warden will not listen to anyone except a military guy. So most probably, your financier [for the hits] should be a military guy, and maybe he will be working with a senator or someone in government.
So it was all those things. And of course I was interested in the process; how do they get out? So they have to get out by the warden telling them, you need to fix my daughter’s birthday bash, you need to help out in cooking, or you need to do carpentry, and so on. It interested me a lot; more than a plot thing, but how it evolves. So I was able to write a draft. But character wise I’m not such a good writer, so I got a co-writer, which is my life partner Michiko Yamamoto. And she put order into it, all the heart that you see in the film, is really hers. In my original draft, the kid [Daniel] was supposed to kill the older guy [Tatang]. When she finished with the draft, Tatang was already killing the guy, and it was so ironic. It had a really good emotional punch.
So from then we had the script; we sent it to Todd and he went around with the script, talked to a few financiers. Even talked to a Hong Kong producer, and they said, ‘But this is a Filipino film? We haven’t seen any Filipino film that gets bought internationally. So if this was from Hong Kong, easily we’d give you the money.’ Because Hong Kong has a really strong international standing; there’s Johnnie To, Andrew Lau, etc. They get their films into Italy, into Europe. So we got nothing.
So I parked the whole thing. We resumed doing films with the creature movie Tik Tik: The Aswang Chronicles [which also screened at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival]. While we were doing Tik Tik, one guy who owns the biggest Tuna cannery in the Philippines – I know him, I do a lot of commercials with their companies – he approached me on one of the commercials we were doing and said, ‘My secret life is the movies. Is it possible for me to sit in when you talk about movies and things, and maybe we can do a movie together? Why not?’ So we sat down, we were developing other stories at that point; it took maybe three or four month – and of course scripts don’t get written that fast. So he pitched in some stories, and of course they don’t get made that easily! So he was agitated, he was restless. ‘I already want to produce a film. Is there anything you have in the pipeline that’s ready?’ So we showed him the script. Overnight he called us. ‘I’ve already read it twice, let’s do this film!’
But then we don’t have actors; only Joel and Joey [Marquez]. Thinking that we should make good at the local box office, we need to have stronger actors attached to it. But because all the big names belong to the TV stations, you have to partner with them. We had already sent the script to the biggest studio [Star Cinema], which eventually co-produced this, and they said no: ‘It’s too dark, there’s no hope; it’s too gritty; it’s not the kind of film we make.’
So instead we tried to get actors on our side. No one wanted to commit, they felt it was too bloody, too violent. And all of them now, right after it went to Cannes, and was bought by Universal, they’re saying ‘You know that film was offered to me?’ But of course you didn’t do it, man! [Laughs.]
Eventually Tik Tik made money at the box office. And that’s not the kind of film that gets made at the box office in Manila. So the major studios started calling us up, and said maybe we can start talking about a few projects? Before that, we were selling Tik Tik to them and nobody wanted to listen. You know, ‘It’s too high concept? Why does it have to be on green screen, that costs so much?’ So we sat down again with Star Cinema. My partner, knowing that On The Job they had already rejected, we pitched them different projects; and then out of the blue they said, ‘Where was that script you sent us three years ago?’ I said it’s still here and we’re still producing it, but we don’t have actors, and I don’t think you’d like it. ‘No no no, let us look at it!’ So we sent it to them. Three days later they said, ‘Okay let’s do this. Can we sit down and talk about casting?’
“We tried to get actors on our side. No one wanted to commit, they felt it was too bloody, too violent. And all of them now, right after it went to Cannes, are saying ‘You know that film was offered to me?’ But of course you didn’t do it, man!”
So from that point, it happened quite fast, and that company usually takes so long to develop films. (It was really a fluke, because since then I have projects with them that are still not made now!) We sat down, they said these are our available actors – you can shoot in three weeks! So I grab Gerald [Anderson]; Piolo [Pascual], immediately, because he already has the script, and he said yes to being the policeman. In fact when Star Cinema got interested, I called him and said, ‘Piolo, they want you to come in. Are you okay with that?’ And he said, Of course. I have a contract with them, but even if that hadn’t been the case I would have co-produced the film with you.’
So it all came together. You talked about Tik Tik not being the sort of film that would normally get made, and the reluctance for companies to finance On The Job. Do you think as a Filipino film director you’re helping to push the genres and types of films that get made?
I think that’s part of your frustration; you only get the same kinds of films in theatres. You just wish that you could go to the cinema and say: okay, I want to watch this drama, or I want to watch that abstract film. You want there to be as much variety as possible in the cinemas. Of course, you are very careful because we could get burned. We’re not like the big studios. We’re a medium scale company; we rely mostly on partnerships. We cannot produce a film on our own. We can only afford to produce a film for 5 million pesos (US$250,000). But if we partner and we know that with a TV studio, they’ll buy your TV rights, they will pay you another US$400,000; so you know that even if you risk US$500,000 financially, that would still be recouped.
So we are very careful, but we want to push the kind of films that the local market can accept. And this is also coming from all those clichés that big studios have led everyone to believe; that the audience is not intelligent enough, that you shouldn’t give them something to think about. And we’re not even giving them highbrow, intellectual stuff; just engaging ideas, where the audience are not spoon-fed everything they need to hear.
So I hope we can keep up with that. I’m not so sure. The reason why I’m doing the sequel to Tik Tik is because I can do one for the studio so that we can afford to do our next, more ambitious, more serious films. We’re hoping we can have a good turnout.
We thought we achieved that after On The Job. Right after Cannes we went back to Manila – and after the theatrical release, even if it didn’t make so much money – the studios were getting in touch with us and saying they wanted to do something like that. Not necessarily action, but something with a lot more ‘meat’ in it, with a great story. So we thought, ‘Yes, it’s working!’ We made some pitches and they liked them. But then, once you write the script, they all start going into the script. And what usually happens is, when they start ‘tweaking’ the script, it slowly turns into exactly the same sort of films that are already showing in cinemas [laughs].
“We wrote the script and sent it to them. And then at the next meeting we sit down, and there are notes…”
So, for example, the film that I’m supposed to do in October – which is the next project with Star Cinema after On The Job – my thesis was when I laid down that project, this will only costs US$300,000. They usually produce films, even the romantic comedies, for US$1.2 million, because they do a lot of reshoots, and even rewrites while shooting. So US$300,000 is nothing. I said, ‘Let’s do this, it’s fast!’ And we were thinking we could either send it to Venice or Cannes. So they said okay, so we write the script and sent it to them. And then at the next meeting we sit down, and there are notes…
Okay, so one stupid note – just so you get the idea! It’s a story about a husband and a wife; the husband protects the wife from the repercussions of a policy scheme. So note from the creative assistant or whoever was, ‘Erm, when did we see how much he loves his wife?’ Isn’t she his wife [laughs], do I need to show he loves her? He married her, I think it’s a given [laughs]. And when he fights for her, that’s enough proof of how much he loves her!
He was like, ‘But no, we want to see it.’ And finally, three or four of these notes, I said, ‘You know what, this only costs US$300,000. We can look for the money elsewhere if you want. But this script doesn’t change. It’s like On The Job. Aren’t you glad that, beyond your romantic comedies, you can have different films that you can bring out to your audience, and that build your brand? We’re actually helping you build your brand! If you want to turn this into another blockbuster, this will never be that sort of film; it won’t be a 300 million peso film. So you want to turn it into that sort of film, I’m sorry, but this film is not open to rewrites. But Tik Tik, which is really for the local audience, comment as much as you like! You want more laughs? Alright, I’ll give it to you, but not on this script.’
So do you think you’ll get more freedom if you make commercial films, and then put that money into your personal projects?
Yeah yeah yeah! I’m trying to be a responsible filmmaker [laughs]. I just don’t want to be throwing away other people’s money by only doing my own personal stuff.
It must be satisfying to see both your films, and those by other filmmakers pushing against those local expectations, and seeing them recognised internationally?
A lot of filmmakers from the Philippines are recognised by major, serious film festivals around the world. But what was satisfying on our end – specifically with On The Job, for example – is that, more than just being recognised in film festivals bringing a stamp of credibility to the project, that it can be bought. Yes, most of the Filipino films go around film festivals: the independent stuff, the arthouse stuff. But we have yet to see a return of the investment. That only happened with On The Job. Despite everyone saying we can’t compete with Hong Kong, we can’t compete with Korea in terms of international sales. It just goes to prove if you craft something really well, tell a story that’s a bit universal – maybe with local insight but still universal – it can go around and it can be good for you.
I’m happy that a lot of the local filmmakers are now also looking at beyond just doing their own personal ‘serious’ films, actually thinking about packaging it in a story that’s more universal that could allow other countries to buy it and showcase it in a wider, bigger market.
So I think that’s where my satisfaction is coming from. And it’s the satisfaction of being at Cannes. We never went out with that intention. Of course, it was something I always wanted, but I never thought that I would really end up in Cannes, because I just make the films that I want to; a fantasy, an adult drama with a lot of nudity, a comedy, a superhero spoof, such a mix of films. With On The Job, we were just making it with no pressure what so ever. I’ve seen filmmakers who kill themselves right before February every year because they’re rushing to make it to Cannes – only to be frustrated and disappointed that they are not picked. We just submitted the film to Cannes. Okay, of course once you submit, you start to feel the pressure [laughs]! In the dead of the night you sometimes think, are they going to pick it or not? Does it have the right ingredients? So of course, you want the film to be as competitive as everyone else’s.
Did you have any reference point or inspirations for the film?
There are simple rules that I employ in making a film, guiding questions that I ask myself. One, is it personal? Two, is it universal? Three, is it relevant? I don’t want to talk about a story that might be pretty close to me, but nobody cares about. For example, I remember this war that happened in our province that killed 80 people. But that’s a tribal war, at this point is it still relevant? Unless there’s a more universal insight that holds the tribal war together, then it might be worth exploring. But if it’s just about the tribal war and it means so much to you because your grandfather part of that tribe, I don’t think anyone would care about it.
Then the fourth question, and I’ve done films solely on answering this question, is it worth doing? So for example, with the creature movie Tik Tik, when it was propositioned that it would be a green screen film, I felt that it was worth doing, because it was a chance for us to explore the medium, and to probably be the first to do a film in the Philippines like that. It wasn’t the best green screen film there was, we had problems with the creatures and all those things. But it was exciting to explore it and figure out how to solve the problems as we go along.
So with those four questions, with On The Job, my first problem there was when I wrote the assassin prisoner and the police story, I couldn’t relate to any part of it. And that’s why it became just an action film in the beginning. When my co-writer Michiko came in, she asked me the same question, what’s so special about this film? Why would you specifically want to do it? So I answered, well, I haven’t been in prison so I don’t really care what that feels like [laughs]. I hate the police so I couldn’t care enough to talk about their convictions. The only thing that really struck a chord with me was the mentor/protégé story.
Which becomes almost like a father and son relationship.
Yes. And that has been going in and out of my past films. Of course, it’s about my father, but also about my mentor, who fought me because I went over budget on a movie he produced for me. It was just that one movie, and it made my career, but after that we fought. Even now we’re still fighting, even up to On The Job – he let out a comment in the press about it not being such a good movie or something.
So at the back of your mind your always trying to prove to your father that you are good enough, but you never really know what he thinks about you. So that struck a chord, and I said, okay, what if the parallel stories also had parallel relationships of father/son mentoring? And that was where the title came from, because I know how it feels to be On The Job, to be a protégé and how much the job matters, beyond everything else. How much you sacrifice other things for the job, just to prove to the mentor that you are worthy. So then I became excited to do it. Yeeees! Now I have something to talk about, and I know what to do about it.
One thing I really like about the film is that there’s a real shift in tone and character sympathies towards the end. Despite actually being a ruthless killer, Tatang seems quite amiable at the beginning.
There’s a lot of humanity as well.
Yes, while the cop Francis almost seems as if he could be corrupt as his father in law, but by the end your allegiances are completely swapped. How important was casting in making this work?
You know, I hear a lot of young filmmakers say this particular actor has to audition for the role. It’s your responsibility as a filmmaker to know what’s out there. Out of respect, you don’t just ask a major actor to audition, just because you want to find out as a filmmaker if they can play the role. Me, I go out of my way to look at their work, to study their filmography, what they could possibly do; just so when you start offering, you don’t necessarily have to see them audition. You already know that person may be perfect for the part because you can see him doing it.
That’s what happened with Piolo, for example. When I sent his the script I gave the choice of whether he took the role of prisoner or police man, but at the back of my mind I know he would be perfect for the policeman. I’m just happy that when he texted back, he said ‘I’ve read the script, I want to play the policeman.’ And I said, ‘Yes!” But then I think he too knows his capacity and strengths.
Joel, he’s a good friend. I know him, I know how he moves, how he talks. He’s a guy that you just trust; he doesn’t need a lot of instructions. It’s like if you’re working with a Robert De Niro, why would you have to direct him? [Laughs.] You presume he knows what he has to do. So he goes to the set, and you see him totally a changed man when he goes through his scenes. And that still surprises me, that there’s a side of him that I’ve never seen on our drinking nights or at any other time! It just shows you how much acting can really be done in a particular work.
Of course, there’s Joey Marquez, who I really love. When I gave him the script he asked, ‘you really think I can do this?’ because he’s a comedian. And then Gerald really surprised me! The guy I wanted for his role is a bit older than him, so I knew if he were able to do that part we would have done it totally differently. But with Gerald, Michiko was really, really happy, because she wanted Gerald from the very beginning. So when Star Cinema gave us him, she said, ‘You know, I can really see him in the role.’ And it wasn’t clear to me what she was referring to. It was the naïve arrogance that the character carries, that can only understand coming from someone that’s young. If had been the other guy, it would have been a totally different take on the role, because you wouldn’t have been able to accept him as a naïve guy. So when he tries to look naïve, you gonna say, ‘Come on! Are you stupid? You’re old enough to know better!’ But Gerald, you can accept that he falters, than he can be reckless.
When I was editing the film, I told Gerald, you know what made the film for your character? I remembered telling him in our first meeting that there would be parts in the script that you have to punctuate certain changes in the character, and knowing that some young actors can be lazy with work, I thought it had just slid by and he hadn’t taken note of it. See the first scene Daniel and Tatang do together with that long dialogue, and then compare it to the scene where a new guy brings in food for Daniel’s character, and Tatang starts getting paranoid about him slowly becoming a boss, and you see a completely different Gerald. That he now has a sense of authority over something or someone, that in reality he still doesn’t have yet, but he feels that there’s a right of passage that happened. And I told him that was a really, really strong scene for you. And of course, in the awards in the Philippines it’s Piolo, Joel and Joey that are always nominated, but Gerald is never nominated.
So do you have a scene that you are proudest of in the movie?
There are two scenes that I really love. One is the hospital scene. I love it when you pull off something that’s so visual, that has no aid of dialogue whatsoever, and just leaves you totally engaged. I loved how all the four characters come together in that scene. I felt that I did justice to each of them and it was worth it with that scene; that all four are highlighted and each has their moment. It’s the kind of moment in a film where all the characters come together and you say, yes, and not one was left behind.
So I was really happy with the balance we made on that. We made several edits; there was tons of material. Some were more focused on Gerald, some were more focused on Piolo, and we just kept coming back to it. Because one cut of a reaction totally changes the entire dynamics, the anticipation.
And the other scene, I always avoid where it’s two people talking in the script. My question is: are these two people talking, sitting down in front of each other, the best possible way to bring out the scene? Because you know how boring it is to shoot two people talking, right? So with On The Job, I always think of them walking, being in the middle of a crowd, the hallway of a prison, it makes it more interesting. But there was one scene where I decided I wanted people just sitting down, because the tension in the scene will come from that immobility, and the camera just stuck there. No movement, no dolly or anything. It’s the scene where Piolo, carrying his cell phone, talks to the general. It wasn’t a simple sequence to shoot, because I had to sort of choreograph when they should look and how. It’s about what’s not being said that gets implanted on the audience. Is he betraying his badge? Do they believe him?
Actually we opened a film school and we have an editing class, and they did an edit of that scene. And someone edited it, and I didn’t realise I’d got takes where the looks were more sinister, where the it was more ‘get ready, you’re gonna be dead tomorrow.’ Of course, they would never have worked for the film, because it would have pre-empted what comes next. But I realised those little looks could actually push the scene to go elsewhere.
There’s quite a funky soundtrack going on, which I really enjoyed. It almost seems to pay homage to the classic thrillers of the 70s, like Get Carter. How did that come about?
The guy who did the soundtrack is like a musical encyclopaedia. So my first idea for the music of the film was that I would only use Filipino music that exists, that we’re going to buy. Little did I know that it would cost so much. He was already part of the project, and he said: ‘You know what, this is what I suggest. What are the songs you really like, and I’ll show you the cost. So he gave me some songs, there’s probably about five that made it to the film. So we paid for those. ‘For the other music, let me find some indie people who make similar music, but we’ll have to make it for the film.’ He knows a lot of the bands in Manila so we had a really great time putting it together.
Now, this came from the brief of the film, On The Job is Three Days Of The Condor, it’s The Parallax View; the kind of film where many things are happening and you don’t know who’s telling the truth, who’s the good guy or bad guy. And you know, when you ask him how he came up with this music, his reference was Lalo Schifrin. Yeah? It’s Dirty Harry [laughs]!
And Enter The Dragon and Mission Impossible! In the Q&A, you seemed very pragmatic about what will become of the US remake of On The Job, whenever that might be. But are you optimistic for what the end result might be?
You know, I would love to see their take on it, but it will be a different film. Whatever they do with it, I hope they runaway with the idea and make something really, really fresh and something I would never have thought of. So I’m pretty accepting about the ways of the world in that sense [laughs].
When Universal optioned the remake rights, a lot of people in Manila talked to me and said, ‘Are you going to allow that? Let them change your film?’ I said, I made the film first, it’s okay; my film is already out there. It’s their own film that they will be doing.
And it should be as well. It can’t be an exact copy, otherwise what would the point be?
Yes. And in a way it’s a form of flattery [laughs]. They’re doing my film!
“When Universal optioned the remake rights, a lot of people in Manila talked to me and said, ‘Are you going to allow that?’ I said it’s okay; my film is already out there. In a way it’s a form of flattery!”
In your career, with going between film and advertising, what are the changes you’ve seen in the Filipino film industry in the last decade or so?
There’s something I’ve been discussing over the last three or four years, but only a few of us agree with it. It seems like it doesn’t matter. But it became really clear of late in our school, where we have a scriptwriting class, and there are four professors; and the students pitch a concept for their film. And all the professors turn down their concepts, and I talked to them and asked them why. ‘Are you just being harsh or what?’ And they told me no. The problem is they don’t want to think big. All their stories are designed to be done on a low budget, which is my main beef with the industry now.
Of course, Michiko will tell me, you can find financing for your film, but for others it’s difficult. But I said, it’s not just about the films; it’s the country in general. Everybody tries to settle. I’ve had years where no one wanted to work with me. But it never made me do like one of those walking, abstract philosophical films [now who could he be talking about? 🙂 ] just because I can do it on a low budget. I stuck to the kind of films I want to make. That’s what I’ve noticed with the country. There’s no will to excel, to dream; they easily settle.
I asked the professors about the stories. They’re usually real time, which was a fad in the indie movement like three or four years ago, because a group of filmmakers feel that real time is perfect for a Third World scenario, because you only have to follow one character and you don’t have to do multiple plots, cos it will cost more money. So the whole film industry is starting to become like that. And because there are film festivals getting it, they think it’s good enough.
There are works that are really good within small films; I’m not saying they are all bad. What I’m saying is you have to challenge yourself for bigger things. I have friend filmmakers and there are several grant giving bodies in the Philippines – they grant like UD$12,000 to the filmmakers, which is really small, and you have to find counterpart financing for another US$15,000 – and a lot of the filmmakers who started with those grants now refuse to work on films like that. But what happens is everyone wants to prove himself or herself as a filmmaker, and they are looking for a way in. But I see them selling their cars, asking favours from their mothers, using up their savings, just to do that one film. And it’s not even to sell the film. They have an idea that they will go to Berlinale with this. There’s a weird idea of how films should be made, that the more personal and uncommercial it is, the better it is. And that’s not necessarily right. I keep telling them, ‘Lav Dias is Lav Dias because he’s already Lav Dias! [Laughs] So don’t try to be like him, because he gets his money however he wants. He can do a 10-hour movie and he’ll still get the money. He’s lucky with that. With you guys, don’t go through your filmography dreaming of that somebody will just bestow you with the money, just because you did the most brilliant film.’
But of course they have to see it for themselves, you cannot just tell them about it because they’ll feel bad.
That seems a good point to close the interview and allow the next interviewer a chance, though Matti has been such a pleasure to chat to I could quite happily sit here and chat for another hour! After taking a few photos, he asks, ‘Was that okay, sometimes I can be a little intense!’ Matti tells me he faces a 15-hour flight back to the Philippines the next day to so he can make his Film school’s student graduation on Tuesday. Catching site of my The Raid shoulder bag, he regrets he hasn’t had a chance to catch The Raid 2 in Leicester Square (like On The Job, it’s another production from XYZ Films), asking me if it’s worth seeing. I tell him yes, of course.
On The Job screened as the opening film of Terracotta Far East Film Festival, as part of a special spotlight on the Philippines. It will be released by eOne later in the year.
Big thanks to Claire Marty and Joey Leung of Terracotta for organising the interview, and of course Erik Matti himself for sparing the time and being so entertaining!