Sunday, April 26, 2009

YELLOW WRISTBANDS, ORANGE CHUCKS ] Butch Garcia on creating the Bagets world

bagets-mood-boardCollage by JR Agra

I have done other films with Maryo J. De los Reyes before Bagets. I was kind of part of his team. We worked on the concept of Bagets together with the writer Jake Tordesillas and the producer William Leary. We never knew of course that what we were working on was going to be phenomenal. All we wanted to do was to make a really good youth film.

The look of Bagets was not influenced by any local or foreign film before it, nor was it influenced by what was going on in the fashion scene here or abroad. I was inspired by a Beatles poster done by the famous graphic artist Peter Max. He was very popular in the ‘60s, and I wanted that type of coloring. I wanted lots and lots of colors, different color pants for a different color shirt layered on another colored shirt. The kids will love it, I thought.

Apart from the Beatles poster, I spent time walking around the university belt, downtown Manila, and watched the kids, what they were wearing, what they were doing with their clothes. I took note of the little nuances: the open shirts, the sneakers, the way they tied their scarves. I adapted all of these but rehashed them by splashing it with lots of color. It was the early ‘80s, and people seemed to have tired from the color explosion of the past decade. So when I was looking around the department stores, from SM and Plaza Fair, all they had were beige and brown. Beige and brown! And the rest was just drab maroon.

So together with my brothers who were part of my production team, we bought a lot of shirts and dyed them. We bought those roundneck Crispa shirts—they were the ones that were really nice--bought our own stencils and printed away. We put pockets where there were none. We spray-painted fabrics. We made our own trinkets and accessories, put safety pins together, etc. We had a budget of P150,000 for the production design and costume. That was a lot of money during that time but clearly not enough for what I wanted to do. I wanted almost every scene to be big. Maglilipat lang ng bahay si Liza Lorena, people had to be playing with fireworks in the background. Mag-eexcursion lang sa beach kailangan may jeep driving through the shore.

The money was certainly not enough to dress up five boys, their girlfriends, their classmates and their mothers. We couldn’t just have people wear their own clothes because the look we were going for, in the clothes and in the sets, were mostly non-existent during that time. We were creating our own world, and we were dressing up its characters the way no one else was dressing up in real life. We had to resort to rehashing old clothes, or going to the department stores. We wanted the look to be different but not alienating to the young audience. I told Maryo that the look has to be reachable and affordable so that the kids will accept it.

Our guinea pigs, of course, were the five boys. They all somehow had similar outfits but you could see that some were a little bit nerdier than the others. At the start of the filming, I had already warned them: ‘Boys, paglalaruan ko kayo, paglalaruan natin ang mga damit niyo.’ Can you imagine any other young gym buff then wearing what JC was wearing: all those colorful shorts and yellow wristbands made of terry cloth? Making Aga Muhlach wear orange shoes was a big fight. And then there was that bowtie in the dance sequence. After awhile, they had began to accept that idea that we were doing something new. They would volunteer their own clothes but we would still rehash them, make them wear a different color undershirt, and then roll the sleeves with the undershirt peeking. That was a signature Bagets look.

They were wearing all these colourful outfits in a very colourful world. Because that was how I thought the kids saw their world, parang ‘70s, like some wonderful acid trip.

Bagets is really my claim to fame. Nobody here can claim that they made a film that changed the way people dressed up. I was nominated in the award-giving bodies the following year, but I never won. I don't even remember anymore who won, or for which movie. But, apparently, everybody seems to remember Bagets.As told to Jerome Gomez

Butch Garcia is the production designer for Bagets. His last film was the underrated Star Cinema project First Day High which tried to recreate a colorful youth world in the mold of Bagets.

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