Filipino filmmaker Carlo Yan has created a short movie - Ikot (Round trip) - depicting the lives of “illegal” taxi drivers in Qatar, the first instalment of a trilogy that he has planned.
Yan told Gulf Times that Ikot has already been entered for two film festivals - Ajyal in Qatar and Tropfest Arabia (GCC) - to be held this year. Ajyal, organised by Doha Film Institute, will begin on November 26.
“I consider hardworking overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as my inspiration for doing this – their struggles and the risks they face every day,” he said.
Yan and six other crew members spent almost two weeks to finish the filming, which was held during the holy month of Ramadan in Bin Omran, Al Sadd and other parts of Doha.
The filmmaker sees the car as the most suitable location for the simple yet interesting story, which many expatriates can relate to. Through the film, he wants to send a message to fellow OFWs that life must go on despite the problems and failures that crop up along the way.
“There are a lot of hindrances and trials in life, but we have to keep moving. Otherwise, we’ll get stuck in a more difficult situation,” he said.
Ikot is about Mark, a former salesperson of a company in Qatar, who resigns and decides to become a “private” - therefore, illegal - taxi driver. He is aware of the risks involved, but believes that it will fetch him a higher income than his previous job.
While looking for customers, Mark meets Oliver and decides to take the latter for a ride – and the round trip (in Doha) starts there.
There are no flashbacks and the conversation focuses on their everyday life as expatriates. They talk about how to work harder to support their families back home and how they manage to survive in a foreign land.
Some scenes also portray the Filipinos’ concern for their fellowmen, extending a helping hand to the needy. After hours of roaming around the city, the two part ways, leaving both with something to ponder about.
“Life on Earth is like a wheel, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down,” said Yan, also an OFW, adding that he was impressed with the performances of the actors in the film.
As most of the scenes have been filmed inside the car, committing a mistake could have ruined everything, Yan stressed. “It was the biggest challenge for all of us because the vehicle was moving and it prevented us from shooting from different angles.”
The Ikot team also included Ray an Yema (sound engineer), Oliver Maalindog (sound design), Winddizy (music), Eugune Dela Cruz (director of photography), Paolo Gorriceta (executive producer) and Catarina Nevesdias (assistant director).
Yan has produced similar films, including Love ko si ma’am (I love ma’am), the first Filipino short film that made it to the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in 2011. It was also nominated for the Best Film Made in Qatar award. He is now working on two projects - The Secret Keeper and You and Me Plus One.
He mulls making a “film for a cause” to help Filipinos in dire need, especially distressed OFWs at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office.
Yan said he would need the support of the Philippine embassy and various Filipino groups in Qatar for this project.
On the challenges of producing an indie film, he had earlier said that budget, language and location were the main factors to consider.
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