When Celine Lopez met Sean Ellis
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Guest writer: Celine Lopez shares her take on the journey to Metro Manila

Who says you don’t meet great men at parties?
Although it was far from romantic, my friendship with Sean started out in 2007 in a party at my home.
He had studied with a good friend of mine in Barcelona and immediately started gushing about how interesting Manila was.

Sean Ellis, Celine Lopez, Axel Favre
Tea time at Lusso, Greenbelt 5—from L-R: Sean Ellis, Celine Lopez, Axel Favre

Years passed. Sean made other movies and I was busy with YStyle while living in India/London part time.
Every time I saw Sean, all we could talk about was this movie project. But we couldn’t seem to get our timing in order.
Then on November 2010, Sean was free from any pending projects and I was about to call off my wedding. We said to each other, “Eff it let’s do this!”
And so began the adventure and the amazing ride of the precious movie Metro Manila.

Sean Ellis, Metro Manila

At Sundance, our first night of screening garnered a humble number of viewers who applauded when the movie ended—in unison with gasps. It was music to our ears. At that moment we were just happy to be there.
The next day, through our Sundance app, we saw that all of our screening dates had been sold out.
Our baby had taken its first step.

Jake Macapagal, Celine Lopez, John Arcilla at Sundance
At Sundance 2013: Jake Macapagal, Celine Lopez, John Arcilla

The thing that struck me the most about Sean was his sensitivity upon observing our culture.
Sean noted: what’s not being said is louder than what’s being said. He made the brave decision to shoot it in Tagalog. The undeniable talent of Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega, John Arcilla, JM Rodriguez and Ana Abad Santos took this challenge to another level.
Sean’s partner Tilly, along with the passionate production team, all took this jewel box production to heart.
What I found most interesting was seeing how everyone—from different countries, cultures and even backgrounds—all work together in this passion project.

Metro Manila at Sundance
Metro Manila’s Filipino cast, producers, and director accepting the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Things were difficult. Money was tight. Even time was a precious commodity.
There were terse moments always to be followed by hugs afterwards. It was a great moment for everyone, even if there were no guarantees of success.
However, we all knew we were all part of something special. We literally just did it. Bahala na!
Seeing Metro Manila grow into the hit that it is today, even noted by the Guardian as possibly the movie of 2013 has surpassed our greatest dreams.

Metro Manila family scene

What touches me the most about our film is that it has found its way in the hearts of all our viewers in Europe. The universal language of love, hope and faith has found its way to audiences who understand Tagalog in the same capacity as hieroglyphics.
Philippine cinema is definitely having its moment along with other foreign movies that have put their focus on our country.
Metro Manila is proudly the UK’s submission for the Oscars.

When Sean first arrived in Manila, I gave him a Team Manila T-shirt that said the Philippines needs more love stories.
Providentially, Metro Manila has become one of our love stories.
See the baby in theaters this October 9, 2013. Mabuhay!

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