ON OUR RADAR - Metro Manila gets a poster, official synopsis & we get a brief update from Director Sean Ellis


Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Thursday, May 03, 2012

metro manilaWe are huge fans of Director Sean Ellis’s work and are always keeping our ear to the ground for any news on his projects, so were very excited to hear a small informal update from him earlier today.

 If you don’t know Sean Ellis’s work by now you really should - Ellis has already achieved remarkable success as a high end photographer & directing commercials with his films exhibiting all the technical ability of a future master film maker honing his craft and we can’t wait to see his next feature Metro Manila.

 I first came to know Ellis’s work when I was introduced to his Academy nominated short film Cashback by a friend back in 2005. It stars a hotbed of UK talent like amongst others: Michelle Ryan, Sean Biggerstaff, Michael Dixon, Emilia Fox, Keeley Hazell and Mad Men’s Jared Harris. Ellis went on to expand the multiple award winning 18 minute short into a full feature that absolutely blew my mind - it was something so fresh an original and unlike anything else that British filmmakers of the day were thinking about - there are no guns, no gangsters, no exploitive grimy environmental conditions, no revenge or hidden agendas but there is a kind of a feel good factor without the saccharine after taste that is sadly all to rare on British screens.

 The Establishing Shot: Cashback Trailer Cashback Trailer

Cashback is one of those rare films that manages to merge Art and Cult in an absorbing tale that is a joy to watch. It is on my list of greatest films ever made and even though Ellis is an accomplished photographer it is hard to believe that Cashback was his directorial debut.

At first glance Cashback may be accused of being light of depth and a feature length film shot with a commercial’s sensibilities but past Sean Ellis and Cinematographer Angus Drayton's masterful handling of the visual aesthetics that fold into the haunting and dreamy soundtrack, the incredibly likeable and engaging characters - Cashback evokes emotion and feeling somewhere between nostalgia and youthful hope. Something that many films try to do but few succeed at.

It is also one of those films that treats London in a way that every day Londoners see it rather than the tourist postcard version or antithetically seeking out its dark underbelly.

 For his next film The Broken Ellis goes in a completely different direction showing his versatility with an original and suspense laden tale of Doppelgangers in London. 

Video: The Broken Trailer (Lena Headey)

The Broken is an intelligent and dark tale not for everyone but it cannot be denied that it is a competent and original story, that doesn’t fall back on clichés as it unwraps a dark and moody mystery. Again Ellis exceeds at building a universe that allows a claustrophobic nightmare to come to life allowing his cast to shine.

The Broken stars; Lena Headey, Ulrich Thomsen, Melvil Poupaud and Richard Jenkins. 

A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of Cashback and QA with the Cashback team courtesy of Tiger’s Undiscovered Treasure season

 Video: Undiscovered Treasures | Cashback | Q&A |  

After wards I got chatting to the team and in between having my mind blown at just how cool they all are - I asked Sean what he was working on next and he let me know that he had been shooting Metro Manila in the Philippines. He didn't give me to much detail but the story concerns the relationship between two cash in transit guards that become embroiled in a heist situation in busy Manila.

Hearing Sean talk about I was engrossed and a crime drama set in the dangerous and fast paced city of Manila seen through Sean Ellis’s eyes had my expectations running high. Just look at the Metro Manila poster below and you can feel the claustrophobia and weight of the city weighing down on the guy.



Metro Manila Film Poster
Metro Manila Film Poster (Click to enlarge)

With his third feature, Metro Manila, Ellis again challenges himself as he heads into unknown territory with a straight up Thriller - Drama set in the Philippines, made in its native language. The official Metro Manila synopsis follows:
Seeking a better life, Oscar Ramirez and his family decide to move from the poverty stricken rice fields of the Northern Philippine mountain ranges and journey towards the capital mega city of Metro Manila. Upon arriving in the big city, it isn't long before they fall foul to various city inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Oscar lands a job as a driver for an armoured truck company and is befriended by Ong, his senior officer. It soon becomes apparent that Ong has been waiting for the arrival of someone just like Oscar for some time. A few simple acts of kindness from Ong place Oscar in his debt; a debt that leads to blackmail as Ong forces Oscar to help him in a robbery of the company they both work for. 
As with his previous films Ellis is very hands on with the story, producing and directing but for Metro Manila he also picks up lead camera man duty so no doubt we will be getting very close to the drama/action as it takes place.

sean ellis metro manila
Image: Behind the scenes with Sean Ellis on the Metro Manila set (Stolen from the Metro Manila Facebook page over here!)

 Metro Manila is currently in post production and a couple of weeks ago an image appeared on the Metro Manila Facebook page letting us know that it was in it’s final week of Sound Mixing. But earlier today Sean gave us a quick update letting us know that Metro Manila:
Metro Manilla is very near the finishing line. It has taken a lot longer than originally planned (as it always does) and is expected to be completed by the end of the May” 
After that Metro Manila will hit the festival circuit and hopefully go into distribution. It has been 4 yours since The Broken and can’t wait for Metro Manila to hit the big screen. 

 For more information and updates on Metro Manila head over to: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Metro-Manila-Film/222304481196095 

Metro Manila 
Seeking a better life, Oscar Ramirez and his family decide to move from the poverty stricken rice fields of the Northern Philippine mountain ranges and journey towards the capital mega city of Metro Manila. Upon arriving in the big city, it isn't long before they fall foul to various city inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Oscar lands a job as a driver for an armored truck company and is befriended by Ong, his senior officer. It soon becomes apparent that Ong has been waiting for the arrival of someone just like Oscar for some time. A few simple acts of kindness from Ong place Oscar in his debt; a debt that leads to blackmail as Ong forces Oscar to help him in a robbery of the company they both work for 

Director: Sean Ellis 
Writers: Sean Ellis & Frank E. Flowers 
Stars: Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega and John Arcilla 

THE ESTABLISHING SHOT: ON OUR RADAR - METRO MANILA GETS A POSTER, OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS & WE GET A BRIEF UPDATE FROM DIRECTOR SEAN ELLIS

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