Enrique Gil On His Comeback In Raunchy Comedy ‘I Am Not Huge Chicken’  – Deadline7 min read

EXCLUSIVE: It’s simply one other day in Manila’s Riverbanks Heart studios and a stand-in actor is thrashing off a gaggle of gangsters with an outsized prosthetic penis – fortunately one that’s wrapped in a tasteful chiffon scarf. 

The actor he’s standing in for, Enrique Gil, is without doubt one of the largest heartthrobs within the Philippines’ movie and TV industries and it’s protected to say he’s taking a slight departure together with his most up-to-date undertaking, I Am Not Huge Chicken, which was largely filmed in Thailand with some interiors in Manila. 

Produced by Anima Studios and ABS-CBN‘s Black Sheep, the movie is a few 30-something virgin (Gil) who, dejected after his girlfriend turns down his marriage proposal, heads off on vacation to Thailand with a bunch of buddies. As soon as there, a peculiar chain of occasions ensues when Gil’s character is mistaken for a well-known Thai porn star, the “Huge Chicken” of the title. 

Directed by Victor Villanueva (Kidnap For Romance) and written by Lilit Reyes and Joma Labayen, the movie additionally stars Nikko Natividad, Pepe Herera and comic Crimson Ollero. Anima’s Bianca Balbuena and Kriz Gazmen of ABS-CBN are producing the movie for the 2 studios, with Gil additionally on board as a producer.

Sitting down with Deadline on a break between takes, Gil says that is the primary time he’s made a straight-up comedy, particularly one so raunchy, likening it extra to a Western-style comedy than a typical Philippines movie. 

“I’d taken a break of about three years throughout the pandemic, and earlier than that was doing quite a lot of romcoms and dramas, in addition to some horrors,” says Gil, underplaying his observe report of creating a number of the Philippines’ largest romantic dramas, typically with frequent co-star Liza Soberano. “Rising up, me and my dad used to simply love comedy, he was a comic himself, so I actually wished to make a stable comedy movie that me and my dad, if he had been nonetheless right here, would wish to watch.” 

He provides that he additionally hopes the undertaking pushes the envelope for Filipino mainstream movies, no less than just a little. Filipino cinema will not be identified for comedy that doesn’t contain a “love staff” and plenty of romance, whereas I Am Not Huge Chicken is extra of a buddy (or in Tagalog ‘barkada’) film, revolving across the mishaps of the group of buddies. “Drama, melodrama, a lot of crying, that’s the bread and butter of Filipino leisure, so it was simply enjoyable to make an out and out comedy for a change,” Gil says. “Simply have fun and time.”

Villanueva, who began out with quirky black comedy Jesus Is Useless, however is now well-known for mainstream dramas and comedies, says that whereas the movie has some naughty jokes, it’s not too outrageous because it’s aiming for an enormous cinema launch. Neither is it misogynistic: “Though we possibly didn’t plan it this manner, the straight male characters are type of losers, whereas it’s the ladies and the LGBT characters who’re in management,” Villanueva says. 

He explains that the story was impressed by the real-life expertise of the author Reyes’ good friend, who went on vacation to Thailand and acquired swarmed by a bunch of women satisfied he was any individual else. This occurred to Reyes’ good friend within the early 2000s, and the movie can also be set on this extra harmless, pre-cell telephones and social media interval, when circumstances of mistaken identification had been a lot tougher to disprove. 

Reyes and Labayen wrote the script with enter from Villanueva and Gil. “It was a unbelievable collaborative expertise with quite a lot of forwards and backwards,” Villanueva remembers. “At one level we had been frightened about portray Thailand in a foul mild, as a consequence of a number of the jokes, however when our Thai counterparts learn the script, they mentioned it was advantageous, so we felt reassured.” 

Whereas some scenes are being filmed in Manila, a lot of the shoot happened in Bangkok. Mockingly for such a mainstream manufacturing, it includes a few of Asia’s heavyweight arthouse producing expertise. Bianca Balbuena, who now heads Anima Studios, was beforehand head of EpicMedia Productions, producing movies equivalent to Lav Diaz’s Important Truths Of The Lake and up to date Sundance title In My Mom’s Pores and skin. When in Bangkok, the movie was facilitated by Thai producer Soros Sukhum’s 185 Movies, which co-produced Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria

“They’re so organised and take additional excellent care of you,” says Gil, when requested how he preferred capturing in Thailand. “Like Filipinos, they’re hospitable individuals. They shoot shorter days than we do right here and every part was very clean.”

I Am Not Huge Chicken

He provides that the movie will current Thailand as a sexy vacation spot (gangsters and porn stars apart) and he want to see extra movies that showcase the Philippines in the identical means. “Everybody desires to go to Korea and eat Korean meals due to their Ok-pop, dramas and flicks. We needs to be doing the identical factor for the Philippines,” he says. “However there are issues we have to do first, like enhance our budgets and our manufacturing high quality, maybe get a bit extra authorities assist.”

Gil says he determined to take a hiatus from the leisure business in 2020 when the sequence he was engaged on, ABS-CBN’s Make It With You, was shut down as a result of pandemic. 

“Throughout these three years, I used to be simply concentrating on my different companies that I run with my mother, we’ve a property growth enterprise collectively, however realised that I didn’t wish to go away the business completely, so I made a decision to launch my very own manufacturing firm,” he says. 

Often called an entrepreneur in addition to an actor and dancer, Gil additionally just lately invested in a ticketing enterprise, Ticket2Me, that sells tickets for reside occasions and produces some live shows. In the meantime, his manufacturing outfit, Immerse Leisure, is growing a slate of tasks for international streamers together with Netflix and Prime Video, in addition to regional streamer Viu. 

“We’re simply attempting to push the boundaries of Filipino content material, placing movies and sequence on the market on streaming platforms for international markets,” Gil says. “It simply doesn’t make sense that the Philippines is essentially the most English-speaking nation in Asia, however we’re probably not tapping into worldwide markets.”

He says the tasks his firm is growing are in English, Tagalog and a mix of each referred to as Taglish. “The Philippines makes quite a lot of dramas and romcoms as a result of they’re not costly to make, however to succeed in a much bigger viewers, we have to break the boundaries. As an alternative of simply promoting our islands, we must always we showcasing our tradition and our movies,” he says.  

I Am Not Huge Chicken appears set to point out worldwide audiences that the Philippines has some vary within the comedy style no less than. The movie can also be eagerly awaited by Gil’s followers within the Philippines who’ve needed to go three lengthy years with out seeing him on display. Theatrical launch is being lined up for later this yr, whereas the producers are additionally planning to take the movie to worldwide style festivals in 2024. 

“All of us had such a tough time throughout the pandemic, we hope this movie is a launch and a protected area for everybody,” says Gil. “We had enjoyable making it and hope our viewers feels the identical means after they watch the movie.”

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