Features Filipino artists Joel Torre and Natalie Mendoza
AN aswang storyline conceptualized in the United Kingdom and shot in South Africa? Why not? For British film and TV director Terence Daw, it was not a far-fetched idea.
That is when his film, Surviving Evil, came to fruition. Daw, who is married to UK-based, Filipina travel writer Rowena Marella-Daw, said that his many visits to the Philippines has made him come to know the legend of the aswang. “I’d been looking for an English-language story to write for a film set in the Philippines, and my wife (Rowena), suggested something with an ‘aswang’ theme,” he said in an e-mail interview with Asian Journal. “Nearly three years later, after writing a script, partnering with producers (Focus Films UK) and pulling together finance, we began shooting the movie.”
However, the location for shooting the movie was not where Daw hoped for. Due to co-production arrangements, they had to do the movie in South Africa instead of the Philippines.
The movie features two Filipino artists, acclaimed actor Joel Torre (whom Daw met in Manila) and half-Filipina Natalie Mendoza. Other cast members include American actor Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom, Twin Peaks, to name a few), Christina Cole, Louise Barnes and Colin Moss.
Surviving Evil tells the story about a TV documentary crew who came to a remote island in the Philippines to shoot a survival special with wilderness expert Seb Beazley (played by Zane). They are assisted by Filipino guides Joey (played by Torre) and Chill (played by Mendoza), who share a secret fear of something terrible on the island. Soon the crew learn about the legend of the Aswang—a vicious, sub-human creature from Philippine folklore that hunts for human flesh and crave the blood of pregnant women. When one of the crew discovers she is pregnant, the whole find themselves fighting for their lives in a jungle filled with terror.
Daw has enjoyed a long career in the entertainment industry, starting in the film cutting rooms of Thames TV and London Weekend TV (LWT) and moving into Promotions – writing, editing and producing LWT’s on-air trailers and promos. His early days as a freelance director covered a broad range of assignments, including live network shows, music & arts, children’s series and documentaries (one of which, Mighty Hunter, was nominated for an RTS award). Moving into his main area of interest—drama—Daw went on to direct numerous episodes of UK drama series and serials, including Brookside, Heartbeat, Emmerdale, The Bill & Thieftakers. He also directed the feature-length special Emmerdale Revenge, distributed internationally by Granada Media.
Daw has also been active as a screenwriter, working in the UK and US, and currently has several of his scripts for TV drama and feature films in development.
Although the movie has been released in the UK and various other territories (including Japan but not yet in the Philippines), Surviving Evil will be having its first release in the US, via Freestyle Digital Media.
“I’m excited that the Filipino-American audience will finally get a chance to see it,” said Daw and added, “Like most lower budgeted films, precarious financing and tight scheduling meant many compromises—but the cast and crew were great and I think it turned out pretty okay!”
Still, Daw is determined to shoot a movie in the Philippines, and he already has a script for an action-thriller set in Manila. “All I need now is the money to make it! And you never know, there might even be a sequel to Surviving Evil one day!”
Surviving Evil was co-produced by Audience Films, along with Focus Films in 2009. Daw wrote and directed the film which was entirely shot on location in South Africa. The movie also screened at the SHRIEKFEST Los Angeles Horror/SciFi Festival, and was selected for Official Competition at the Festival de Cine Fantastico (FANCINE) in Malaga. Surviving Evil has since had several showings on the UK’s Horror Channel and is due to have its US Video On Demand release on August 20, 2013; to be followed by a DVD release on October 22, 2013.
For Video On Demand log on to: www.freestyledigitalmedia.tv
To watch the trailer: www.audiencefilms.co.uk/about-audience-films/
Add Surviving Evil on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Surviving-Evil-movie/45274215846
(San Francisco July 5, 2013 SF Magazine pg.2)