Fil-American actor-filmmaker Anthony Diaz V has seen too many movies, one of those that left such a big impression on him was “The Passion of the Christ,” a 2004 American epic drama that primarily covers the final twelve hours of Jesus’ life. The film was a controversial hit written and directed by Mel Gibson, an artist and a non-conformist. “He has a terrific visual style,” says Anthony whose first full-length feature “Break,” a Hollywood style independent movie, is Sundance-bound.
Taking after Gibson and Ben Affleck, Anthony also writes, directs, and acts in the projects he produces under Kaizen Studios. With the rise of cinematic rebels in Hollywood, Europe, and Asia who are redefining the rules of making movies and tackling subjects that very few would touch, Anthony is a talent to watch for.
At 15, he was already making short films. By the time he was 20, Anthony has graduated with high honors from the University of Las Vegas Film School (UNLV) with a degree in Film, making him the youngest alumnus with such a distinction. After a couple more short features, one of which dramatizes the effects of the war in Afghanistan to a US military family, Anthony knew he was ready for a full-length film.
He chose to do “Break” which was inspired by “Lunch Break,” a short Anthony made when he was 17 years old. “The characters in the short were actually based on each of my friends’ personalities who acted in my film. I took those character traits and gave it to the Japanese actors playing the roles.” He also transferred the setting to Japan, a country that has always fascinated him. “When I was younger, I used to travel with my father a lot, Japan in particular,” shares Anthony. “I always remember falling in love with the lifestyle and the culture because it was all new and fresh to me. As I got older and fell in love with cinema, naturally you want to move into making a feature film.”
Japan was his obvious choice of a locale. Portraying the Japanese ghetto scene, Anthony proceeded to blend American storytelling with Japanese cinema and infuse it with the elements of hip-hop. He changed some dialogue from English to Japanese, hired Japanese actors and thought that he was good to go. The actual filming proved otherwise. “It was not easy. I had a Japanese translator on the set and having to communicate through him with the actors was really tough. It cuts into a lot of production time.”
Guerilla shoots are also not allowed in Japan. “We have to lock down a location one day ahead of time. On top of that, you only get a certain number of hours to shoot in that location. If it rains, you’ve no choice but to apply for another permit (to shoot).”
But Anthony persevered through it all even when what was supposed to be a three-week shoot stretched on. Because that is, after all, the essence of making movies. From its inception, cinema is meant to beguile. It weaves magic no matter the apparatus with which you create it. Advances in technology have taken over but a great film at its very core does what it is supposed to do — take audiences to a rollercoaster ride, surprise them, baffle them in the same manner that the creator, the filmmaker experiences the same vicarious journey, that of continuously being surprised and falling deeper into loving the art of making movies.
The story of a Japanese-American youth named Johnny, confused and rebelling against circumstance and the norms, “Break” is more than worth a peek. It is thrilling and yet dramatic, intense and introspective in turns. “Acting and directing at the same time, it’s a natural process for me. Being in front of the camera and being behind it is all a natural process for me,” says Anthony Diaz V, cinema craftsman at heart.
He is out to conquer, leave a mark, and pave the way upon which next generation Anthony Diazes 15 to 20 years from now will tread. “If there is one lesson I learned and have proven to myself, it’s ‘If you’re gonna dream, dream big because it’s free.’ It’s amazing how when dreams are put into action, life opens up the possibilities.”
“Break” also stars Namihiko Oomura, Kaede Ishizuka, Tohru Watanabe, Japanese rapper Ish-One and American rapper Crazy T.
Diaz’s film was received warmly, with a jam packed crowd composed of fans and friends in the Philippine entertainment industry, who all watched the private screening t the Power Plant Mall’s Cinema 3 held last November 19, 2016.
Prior to the private screening, a press conference in Mamou was feted for Diaz and his team, which was attended by reporters from the major TV networks, entertainment writers and bloggers.
To these, Anthony Diaz V gratefully enthused, “Thank you Philippines for all the love! You all are so great and thank you for making the premiere of BREAK in Manila an experience I will never forget! I will cherish this memory forever! Thank you for being such great fans! More great stories and films are coming soon from Kaizen Studios and I can’t wait to share it with all of you again! Stay tuned! From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much ”