It was laserdisc, but it ended up being a bad Chinese copy. I paused the movie and reflected on whether I should continue watching despite the shoddy quality and decided that yes, I should. Little did I know that that bad Chinese bootleg laserdisc would go on to change my life. With its hysterical and realistic dialogue, surprises around every corner, uncomfortably lovable characters and unconventional way of revealing plot, Pulp Fiction became my favorite film. It wasn’t only that – all my life I had known that I wanted to be a storyteller, but it was only after watching Pulp Fiction that I realized what medium I wanted to work in. With cinema characters became more real, collaborating with people to tell a story seemed more fun, and most importantly, I realized how rewarding it would be watching your intended audience react en masse WHILE watching your work with them. Pulp was that turning point in my life that made me decide to be a filmmaker.
“Hey, you know what? I’ve got enough of these in my luggage and don’t think I really need any more”, he says, as he hands us a gold box with a logo saying, “Tanduay 50 years”. Quentin Tarantino is handing me a Tanduay Anniversary box. In his motherfucking hotel room. I may have dreamt of something like this when I was a brand new film fan at the age of 14, but if I ever did it was one of those fantasies that were swept under the rug for eternity like getting to make out with Teri Hatcher or having an affair with your hot high school teacher. Tarantino paces back and forth as he talks, doing his signature hand motions to stress certain points. I feel like I know this guy, with all the interviews I’ve seen and read of his before this moment. This is just like another one of those interviews – except it’s all happening in front of me, and apparently I’m the interviewer. “Ok, Ok. Favorite character I’ve ever written. That’s a good question. I think, without a doubt, it would be The Bride. Then Jules. Then Mr. Blonde. Then Gogo.” Tarantino’s got a bit of a reputation – egomaniac, asshole, conceited filmmaker – but I find that impossible to believe. I just dropped him a line to tell him that I’m leaving his videoke vcd’s with the front desk, and suddenly this guy invites me up to his hotel room to shoot the shit and talk film an hour before he has to leave for the airport. And really – Tarantino’s doing all the entertaining . He’s telling me about how he got Michael Keaton to play the same character in both Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. He’s talking about his plans for his next film, the wonderfully-titled “Inglorious Bastards” (“It’s the next huge mountain i have to get over. It’s a big mountain, but after that I’m thinking maybe I can see the clearing”). Finally he talks about how much he likes it here and how he wants to come back as soon as possible (“All this is business. But now I’ve done my job and I’ve met a lot of great people and when I come back there won’t be work anymore. I’ll just drop by and say ‘hey guys!’ and hang out”). I then realized something about Quentin Tarantino that’s never really been touched on by the thousands of articles written about him: the guy’s a sweetheart. It’s endearing how much cinema means to him, and how I can honestly believe this guy’s going to watch every single Filipino DVD handed to him during the trip. He's a swell guy, and it’s great when the person who’s indirectly changed your life actually ends up being a swell guy.
Sandwich guitarist Diego Castillo and I didn’t like each other much, back in the day. To him I was an obnoxious spoiled brat, and I thought of him as a scary neo-nazi. One summer day in 94 he comes in to NU 107 wearing a t-shirt with the logo “Reservoir Dogs” on it, and I ask, “what’s that? A band?”
“It’s a movie.”
“Yeah? Never heard of it.”
“Rent it. I think you’ll like it.”
And that was the longest conversation we’d had at that point. I don’t know why, but right after that I headed on to Yves Vincent and rented a laser of Reservoir Dogs. It blew me away. It was the first time in my young pubescent life that I’d ever seen people talk about horribly obscene stuff, or saw bystanders get shot randomly, or watched someone getting tortured (to Stealer’s Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You” nonetheless). I didn’t even know that there were movies like this! Reservoir Dogs set me on a path to becoming a cinephile, but It was also the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Shortly after that Diego would recomment films like A Clockwork Orange, Goodfellas, The Shining, Fresh, Boyz N Tha Hood, Taxi Driver, The Godfather and Scarface. We’d talk non-stop about those movies, and we haven’t stopped talking to this day. We’re now about to start the first movie we’ve written together, and I dedicated my first movie to him and his then-girlfriend Myrene, because, as the credits said, “they started it all.” Probably should have put Tarantino in there as well.
This is how I met Quentin Tarantino – in the middle of a commercial interlock one of our photographers at Blow-Up Babies calls me and tells me that Cinemanila head Tikoy Aguiluz has just booked the studio for a shoot with Tarantino, Cirio Santiago and Eddie Romero. Before they could say “blueberry pie” I was rushing out and driving like the devil, calling all my partners to get there before the session was over. When I got there I saw my partner JA touching up the aforementioned portrait.
“Wala na sila. Pati nga ako di ko naabutan eh.”
“Oo. Pumasok lang sila, nagpapicture ng 2 minuto at umalis.”
“Bawal nga magpapicture yung iba eh. Umalis na sila.”
“MOTHERFUCKING SHIT FUCK GODDAMMIT HOLY CRAP FUCKING SHIT”
A few days later our photographer Mia Tengco said she could hear me scream the aforementioned phrases from inside the studio while she was taking pictures of a 2-year old and her mommy.
Whatever. The kid will eventually hear those words anyway so it’s better if they start young. I call Tikoy and ask him where they are and he says Cibo. So I run over there and he welcomes me into the restaurant. They introduce me to Tarantino and I kneel down and say, “Mr. Tarantino, I became a filmmaker because I saw Pulp Fiction. It is an honor and a pleasure to meet you.” He was very gracious about it – you know, “the pleasure is all mine” and all that. I cut him off by saying,
“As tribute, I present to you my softcore porn film.”
Which makes the above statement #8 in the “stupid things I say when I meet people I admire series”. Yes, I wonder myself why it was Gamitan that I first gave him. Truth is, I couldn’t find copies of the others at the time. We talked a bit, but that first meeting I think I was just staring at him, my mouth agape the whole time. Before he leaves I decide it’s the best time to have a picture taken with him, and I look around and the only person I can find is Raymond Red! So here --
Me with Cannes Palme d’Or winner Quentin Tarantino. Photo by Short Palm d’Or winner Raymond Red. When I was a high school film geek trekking out to all these film festivals to watch films by my favorite short filmmaker Raymond Red and you told me that one day he would take a picture of me and Quentin Tarantino I would have never believed you.