The secrets of a successful partnership according to Gallaga and Reyes

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“We keep our bullshit detectors very open for each other.” — Peque Gallaga

Peque Gallaga: Mutual respect. Patience.

Lore Reyes: A lot of patience.

Gallaga: Sophistication. We keep reminding each other of what we contributed to the film, including the things the other did not contribute to. In other words, we’re always reminding each other that we can lie, that we can cheat, and that taking credit for anything is useless. There’s a sort of meta-awareness about how this partnership is weighed.

Reyes: I know what you’re talking about but what you just said will take a lot of explanation.

Gallaga: Okay. Let me put it this way: there are times when someone sees a beautiful scene and I’ll say that I shot it and the other guy won’t even bother to say that it was his, and vice versa. It doesn’t matter in the end.

Reyes: It’s a point of pride that a movie is seamless. Nobody can tell if a scene was shot by me or by him.

Gallaga: That’s why we can fool our friends. We can keep lying. That being said, the opposite is also true: we always tell each other if what we’re doing is good. All artists need feedback—not just need negative feedback, not just what you could have done better—you also need to know that you’re on track. Validation from an equal is important.

Reyes: It needs to be said.

Gallaga: We keep our bullshit detectors very open for each other. So much so that we don’t talk about it anymore. From the beginning, we had to be careful about who was bullshitting what—not each other, but onscreen. If you say “Gallaga-Reyes film,” there can be a lot of flaws, there can be a lot of mistakes, or things that didn’t work, but there is no pretension. We don’t pretend to be deeper than we are. We don’t pretend to be cleverer than we are. We call each other out.

Reyes: When we have a serious argument, we make sure that it doesn’t affect the staff. We try to settle things without the problem spreading through the set.

Gallaga: I don’t know if this counts as a rule of good collaboration but when you have a partner, you have to get into work mode. When you’re alone, you allow yourself to be lazy. A lot of individual directors don’t do their homework. They spend a lot of time drinking and talking about “the movie.” They wake up early in the morning and they spend two hours at breakfast talking about their art. When Lore and I get together, it’s work. We don’t sit down and bullshit each other. We do shot lists. We talk about making the movie, not the art of making a movie.

Reyes: When you’re working with a partner, you’re motivated. If you want to be lazy, you have to tell your partner that you want to be lazy. Who does that? You don’t do that.