Chloe Veloso seeks to break stereotypes in her films
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
CONTRARY to what her dark-colored wardrobe suggests, Chloe Veloso is sociable and chatty, traits that surprise those who get intimidated by her at first meeting. It’s no different when they see her works in film, most of which she embeds with animated storytelling, in an attempt to break another stereotype: of LGBT films being too outrageous or melancholic, and too centered on discrimination.
Applauded for that vision—Chloe’s latest work, “Ina-Tay” (Mother-Father), a short film about a beautician named Elvis (Elvira to some) who goes through single parenthood, was selected as one of the 10 nationwide finalists in the recently concluded Cinemalaya 2014.
The filmmaker, who hails from Tacloban City, has been drawn to the art since she was a child, influenced by her dad who used to tell her stories from fairy tales to mythology, and after a hobbyist photographer taught her visual composition.
She eventually developed the knack for storytelling through film, and during her stay at the University of the Philippines Cebu College where she majored in computer science years back, founded the film and theater group Amateur Creative Thespians of UP (Act-UP). She shared that despite the lack of mentors and equipment back then, the group pursued their passions and through self-learning, honed their skills.
Chloe only recently had formal training when she decided to take her masters in cinema studies at the University of San Carlos. Since 2012 she’s been joining music video and film competitions, and in 2013 had her first entry to the Sinulog Short Film Competition, the lighthearted yet heartwarming, “Ang Gugmang Ti-unay ni Daniella” (Daniella’s True Love), for which she was nominated for best director.
Collectively her works have been recognized in festivals likes Binisaya, CineSB, NCCA’s Cinema Rehiyon, Bacollywood, Sinedisipulo, and UPelikula. She has also dabbled in the horror genre trough her 2014 short, “Dag-um” (Dark Skies), which is her take on the tragedy of losing one’s faith.
“My style is still evolving,” she said. “But I love to choreograph my scenes similar to that of theater, since I did theater back in grade school and high school. And as part of my advocacy for LGBT rights, I make it a point that there is proper representation in my films.”
In great company
Chloe said she is “proud and happy” of how many filmmakers outside Manila are now making their mark in their respective regions. In Cebu, she wants to play her role in reviving the Golden Age of Cebuano Cinema, which she said can be achieved through unification of the local film sector, and raising awareness among the public audience of homegrown works.
Film appreciation is something she wants to develop as well, and Chloe is presently working with Barangay Kamputhaw’s Hugpong sa Mahuyang nga Nilalang (Human) that will soon conduct screenings of LGBT films in their community. With Act-UP, she organizes Movie Mondays in Handuraw Gorordo, where they screen films and give out popcorn for free.
Chloe plans to expand Act-UP, which remains an active student-based organization today, beyond the campus. “I’m planning to start another film group but this time it will be open to everyone who wants to join and it’ll focus on a wider range of projects that are not school related,” she said.
Following one’s passion
Chloe said that though funding remains a challenge for many aspiring filmmakers, it should never be a hindrance in following one’s passion. A phone camera, for one, can work just as good. “It’s not the camera that makes a good film — it’s the story,” she said. “The camera is just a tool in storytelling.”
And to develop that, she said an extensive knowledge on film helps, as she herself has done by immersing in films from different eras, genres and cultures. Then, “just practice and shoot,” she advised.
“Filmmaking is a tough job,” she said. “Although it may seem glamorous on screen, behind the scenes it’s stressful as hell. But at the end of the day, once you see the finished output, all the stress disappears, and seeing the audience react to your film the way you intended it to be is an even greater reward.”
Chloe juggles filmmaking in between her day jobs as part-time college instructor and as trainer in a language center. She said, “When I’m not shooting a film, I’m usually watching a film with my friends and dissecting it for kicks. Or when I take a break from ‘moving’ pictures, I divert my attention to still pictures. I’m not a photographer but I like taking photos for fun. I also love to read books, drown in the latest album of my favorite artist, or jam with my band.”
Photography: Junmar Sprite G. Dulosa | Production Assistant: Dexter Maneja
Hair & Make-up: Christyl Pelayo | Venue: Benjo’s BZ Blends