After horror spoof Echorsis, Insight 360 goes mainstream with rom-com Mia

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A SCENE from Mia.

AT FIRST GLANCE, Veronica Velasco’s Mia might be a typical romantic comedy, but she insists that it is more than that as the film tackles issues that aren’t typically covered in films of the genre, like climate change.

“When Chris Cahilig [of Insight 360] came to us and said he wanted to do a ‘different kind of rom-com’ we said ‘are you sure?’ [then we decided] to create a rom-com that has climate change and environmental issues,” Ms. Velasco told the media during a press conference on Jan. 3 at Limbaga 77 Restaurant in Quezon City.

Ms. Velasco co-wrote the film with Jinky Laurel.

The film’s premise centers on its titular character Mia (played by Coleen Garcia), an alcoholic doctor who is mourning the death of her fiancée, and Jay (played by Edgar Allan Guzman), a rock collector who transforms mined-out land into rainforests —the two meet in Palawan. Jay is smitten with Mia but Mia still has to deal with her grief and avoids relationships — her confidant is her plant, a bromelia.

“Jay wants to save Mia from her own self-destructive behavior but Mia doesn’t want to be saved,” Ms. Velasco said, before adding that the film revolves around the Chinese saying about being responsible for the life you save.

Mia is the second film from Insight 360 Films after 2016’s Echorsis by Lem Lorca, a horror film spoof. Mr. Cahilig, the head of the production outfit, said Mia was their first stab at more commercial fare.

“Filipinos have seen a lot of rom-coms already so we wanted a story about hope and love. And it’s so difficult to create a story that will stand out. When the script was pitched to us, we instantly loved it, there were barely any revisions made to the final script,” Mr. Cahilig told BusinessWorld shortly before the conference.

Mia opens on Jan. 15 in cinemas nationwide.

Mr. Cahilig said that after Mia, the company is planning to produce five movies within the year, some of which are “indie films and art films” alongside horror movies and rom-coms.

“Some films I will be directing also,” he said.

These will be the first full-length features directed by Mr. Cahilig.

Mr. Cahilig has been directing branded short films for several years now, starting with Pitaka (Wallet), Sinturon (Belt), Bag, and No Strings Attached for leather goods brand McJim in 2017.

The short films have been screened and won several awards in international film festivals including a Best Digital Ad award from the 40th Catholic Mass Media Award and Best Illustrated Poem in the 2018 Wales International Film Festival for Pitaka.

Last year, Mr. Cahilig directed two short films for storage company Loc&Stor: The Secret and One Night Only.

“I’m really a storyteller at heart and PR and marketing is about telling stories [but] I find PR and advertising very limiting in terms of narrative, so I’ve been looking at templates from other countries like Thailand who tell long branded stories with the brands being unintrusive and organic to the narrative,” he said.

For reference, Pitaka is eight minutes long and has been viewed “over 25 million times” on the McJim Facebook page, according to the brand. — Zsarlene B. Chua