Loida has been a bit player for many years already, enabling her to get her daughter through her education even if she was a single mother. We follow her typical experience one day when she was called to a remote shooting location in Batangas for the hit TV soap opera entitled "Nauna Kang Naging Akin". The production seems to be behind schedule , needing to shoot so many sequences to air that very night, making the director super-stressed.
Through Loida, we see every indignity bit players had to endure in order to earn their seemingly measly living. They have no privacy, not enough food nor rest while on the set. They were at the constant beck, call and mercy of the director. the assistant director, the casting director. They had to wait for long periods of time under harsh conditions inflicted by weather, technical difficulties, and the inconsiderate diva behavior of the bigger stars.
It was such an inspired idea to get a star of the highest caliber to play this unsung hero of the movie industry. The fact that is was no less than Ms. Vilma Santos herself playing the lead role of Loida Malabanan makes this film so much more meaningful and special. If the lead was played by a lesser star, it would not have made an impression of such great impact as this film did.
Ms. Vilma Santos is the heart and soul of this film, and she was such a paradox in this role. She portrays her role in the most natural and realistic way, yet we know this was so NOT her. We know that in reality, Vilma already played the lead role in her very first movie in "Trudis Litt." She successfully dimmed her megawatt star power to appear inferior in stature to stars like Marian Rivera and Piolo Pascual who were the lead stars of the soap being shot, yet Ms. Vilma still manages to outshine them all.
Ms. Cherie Gil was so deliciously good in her villainous Dona Beatriz character. Tart Carlos, more popularly known for her role as the maid Doris on "Be Careful With My Heart," has a marked role playing Loida's friend and co-extra, where her skills in comedy shone. Musical director Vincent de Jesus was very effective as the harried assistant director, scrambling to accomplish all the orders of the stressed director.
This was such a revelatory and informative movie for me, to see what really happens behind those neat programs we see on TV or the big screen. We will see that behind the apparent glamour on screen, there is much chaos and exploitation on the set before those final edits were achieved. These behind-the-scenes situations were depicted so honestly such that this film could might as well have been a documentary to further the cause of fair treatment of bit players. It is a position statement as much as it was entertainment.
Like "Babae sa Septic Tank" and its insider look into indie film making last year, "Ekstra" is a definite must-see for all film fans to understand more in depth on how this celluloid industry that they love works. 9/10.
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