On the Spot: Quark Henares
The "rock star" director on his latest flick, his relationship with his so-famous mom, being one of SPOT.ph’s Top 10 Cutest Directors, and more.
(SPOT.ph) Filmmaker, vocalist, entrepreneur, headline-maker-Quark Henares is all four of these but hey, you knew that already. He straddles the worlds of film and music, famously spawning sexy films like Gamitan and Keka (the latter being Quentin Tarantino-approved, mind you) and shows of his vocal chops as the front man of the rock band Us-2 Evil-0. That, and he's pioneered things like Rockeoke in Manila (a concept he borrowed from New York, he admits) and once managed bands like popular Pinoy rock group Chicosci.
When he's not behind the camera or the mic, this 29-year-old moonlights as a business manager for the photography studio Blow Up-Babies in Serendra and the Cubao X comic book store Sputnik. Headline-maker? He's been one all his life, inevitably as the son of controversial beauty mogul Dr.Vicki Belo and NU 107 founder Atom Henares, but in recent years as a budding filmmaker idolized by young cineastes for his contributions to the local film industry-whether he's directing movies, music videos, commercials, or "corrupting young minds" (as his Facebook fan page bio says) at Ateneo de Manila University where he teaches courses on film.
Currently, Henares is on hiatus from the local film industry to undertake yet another endeavor: finish a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of Southern California (USC). Not one one to go out without a bang, he leaves us with his first indie flick and latest reel masterpiece, Rakenrol. Six years in the making and fresh from a round of international film festivals, Henares’ much-awaited film, which was co-written by Sandwich’s Diego Castillo, finally hits the big screen this month at the Cinemalaya Film Festival. In true rock star fashion, Rakenrol will close the festival with an all-star concert featuring Pupil, Taken by Cars, Ciudad, Itchyworms, Techy Romantics, and more.
In this SPOT.ph exclusive, we grilled the young filmmaker on his new film , the boons and banes of being a director, his relationship with his so-famous mom (and her controversial fiancé), landing a spot on our Top 10 Cutest Male Directors list, and more.
Quark Henares at work. Click for more.
How do you feel about Rakenrol finally premiering here in the Philippines via Cinemalaya?
Oh my God. Awesome. I’m so happy! Oh my God! (laughs) Actually, ang saya saya saya saya namin na finally it will be in the Philippines. I mean, it was shown in other countries, but Diego and I made this film for Filipinos and we made it about the Filipino rock scene, and there are things that only Filipinos will understand. It’s such a thrill and it’s such a great thing to be able to finally show it and ’yun nga, sa CCP pa, the closing of Cinemalaya. [I’m] very happy!
What was the most challenging part about creating this film? The most fulfilling?
The most challenging part, I think, was-the whole thing kasi-it was my first indie so ang hirap. I mean, being used to a studio system na ’yung tipong every thing may system na and they already have their post houses and whatever whereas here, we had to beg, borrow, steal. It was hard kasi ’yun nga we were a small indie film. And we had, let’s say, the four-Jason, Glaiza, Alwyn, and Ketchup-it was hard getting their schedules together so even though we only had 12 shooting days, that was once a month. Every month we’d shoot and it took us more than a year to finish 12 shooting days.
We (Diego Castillo and Quark Henares) wrote the story February 2005 ’yung first draft so mga six years nga siya. But I’m glad na it’s done.
Watch the Rakenrol trailer
What do you love and hate the most about making films?
I love every thing about making films except that it’s so expensive. But it’s going to be cheaper. But ’yun nga, I don’t think that you can reach your full potential as an art form unless, you know, anyone on the street can do it. They’re getting there, but right now, it’s still a very expensive process.
I really love being on set. I really love every thing from the writing-Diego and I alone in that room writing-it was very nice and fun. It was like doing a radio show together. If we shot those writing sessions, it could have been awesome.
From working with the cast-probably the best ensemble cast I ever worked with, everyone from Glaiza, Jason, Ramon Bautista, Alwyn, Ketchup, Jun Sabayton... everyone was so supportive, even ’yung mga supporting-to working on the music with people like Mikey from Ciudad and Diego from Pedicab. Ang ganda talaga ng whole process. I just hate that it took so long. But I’m very, very happy na OK na siya.
Henares on Rakenrol
Henares on being one of SPOT.ph’s Top 10 Cutest Male Directors
How do you feel about being named one of SPOT.ph’s Top 10 Cutest Male Directors?
(laughs) Tin-weet niyo ko eh tapos nagulat talaga ako. What the fuck?! (laughs) Parang weird. Astig siya, astig siya... I think, everybody had a blast. I remember I would see Sid (Maderazo) a lot. Nagpicture pa kami ni Wincy at ni Joaquin. "O pare, mga top 10." It’s ridiculous because I think directors don’t really... I mean, we’re always behind the camera. We don't see ourselves as people in front of the camera. But masaya. (laughs) Thank you, Spot. Woo!
What’s the movie that made you want to be a filmmaker?
Pulp Fiction. When I saw Pulp Fiction, I saw that they were having fun and I saw that there were things that we could do with cinema that we couldn’t do with any other medium. It was a really good story and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I was like, "I want to be a filmmaker."
What’s the dream film you’d like to make?
The dream film I’d like to make is this (Rakenrol) so I’m happy. I actually don’t, I mean, I want to make a Sci-Fi futuristic Filipino film eventually na very Filipino ’yung dating. But not withstanding, it was really Keka and Rakenrol for me that really, that I had been dreaming about for years. I’m very, very happy and fulfilled.
If you could work with any actor or actress, who would it be and what role would you cast him or her for?
I have always wanted to work with Joel Torre; I think he’s an awesome, awesome actor, or Epi Quizon. Cherie Gil, I also really love. I want to work with the more, you know I have always been working with kids, so I think I want to now try to work [with older actors]. I have a role for Aga Muhlach, it would be awesome-it’s like a normal government guy type na lawyer pero asshole. (laughs) I think he’s capable of so much more than what he’s always being cast as.
Our cute director’s showreel: "Two minutes and 20 seconds is hardly enough time to compress 10 years into, and two paragraphs are hardly enough to thank all the wonderful and talented people I’ve collaborated on these projects with. The biggest reason I’m happy to be a filmmaker is because I became friends with people like you."
Quark Henares to aspiring filmmakers: "Stop aspiring and just be."
Name five must-watch Pinoy movies and the local filmmakers you look up to.
Bayan Ko, Kapit sa Patalim by Lino Brocka. It’s just really fantastic. I remember watching it for the first time and I was blown away. My favorite Filipino movie of all time is Batch ’81. Keka was kind of a tribute to Batch ’81. I really, really love [it]. I think it’s so powerful and it’s a Mike De Leon [film]. And also Salawahan by Ishmael Bernal. It’s so funny and it’s so absurd. I can’t believe that they actually made a movie like Salawahan. In the past decade siguro Lav Diaz’s Batang West Side. It's five hours long, it’s worth it. It’s an amazing, beautiful film. And I really love Jerrold Tarrog’s Confessional. I’m a big fan of Confessional.
My favorite, favorite director right now is RA Rivera who hasn’t made a feature film. He’s my idol and I think he’s really brilliant. One day, pagbalik ko from business school, ifufund ko ang kaniyang feature film siguro. (laughs) I think RA has this very absurd sense of humor na hindi galing pelikula. It comes from a lot of Pinoy pop culture. It comes from ’yung mga docu, ’yung mga Negosyete, mga ganun. He really created that whole viral thing. I think RA’s more important than a lot of major critics. I think he’s underrated because he hasn’t made a feature film, but in terms of viral, siya talaga ’yung hari ng virals. You know he’s really awesome and also I hate that there are so many commercials now that copy RA’s style. But they never get RA. I think it’s a crime. That’s wrong.
What do you make of indie director Rafa Santos’ comments about stage actors? Do you think his film should have been pulled out of Cinemalaya?
I don't think Rafa’s film should have been pulled out, honestly. I think he meant it in jest; he was making a joke. Medyo mukhang American ’yung sensibility niya so parang feeling niya siguro nasa Conan O’Brien siya or whatever. For me it wasn’t funny. Hindi siya nakakatawa at hindi siya kumambyo. I work with theater actors all the time and I really love working with them... It’s hard being known as a theater person.. may stigma talaga eh. But they really have so much passion and so much discipline. It’s unbelievably inspiring and it's great working with people like that.
So sana man lang binawi mo man lang ’di ba? Kasi it wasn’t funny, you know, in the most basic sense. And also he kept on repeating it... he just kept on going on. I think a lot of people have been overreacting or maybe medyo witch-hunt. Kawawa ’yung bata. But I don't think his film should be pulled out. I don’t think he should be crucified. But I can understand people like Jenny Jamora, they come up to me and they feel really strongly about it because it’s their craft. It’s not a job. And to even be joked about parang you cheapened their craft, ’di ba?
If a film were to be made based on your life, what would the title be?
Well Rakenrol is kind of based on our lives, kami ni Diego. I guess that would be [it]. It’s not really autobiographical, but there are many autobiographical elements from both our lives. Also I think it’s very personal. It comes from real people, people we really know. So Rakenrol would be the title of the film. (laughs)
What’s your advice to aspiring filmmakers?
Right now, my message to aspiring filmmakers is don't be an aspiring filmmaker, just be a filmmaker. With your DSLR, with your friends-tignan mo ’yung Super 8 ’di ba? ’Yang mga bagets na yan, they were able to make a movie. Just make a film. There is literally nothing stopping you from becoming a filmmaker right now. We’ve got equipment. You can be in Cannes like tomorrow if you just put your mind to it. So that's my advice. And don't feed your actors cat food and Skyflakes.
Quark Henares talks about his relationship with his mom, Vicki Belo, and her fiancé, Hayden Kho Jr.
You also sing. Tell us more about what made you decide to get into that.
I was into music long before I was into film. My dad owned a radio station so while I was growing up, I would always hangout with these rockstars and rock people. Thirteen years old pa lang ako, I was already part of a radio show. I really grew up with bands. And then in high school I started managing Ciudad. In college I managed Monsterbot, Chicosci and Boldstar. So I started managing bands [and it wasn’t] until I graduated college, when they were becoming signed already and they had albums, na "Uy pagawa naman ng music video." The music really came before the [filmmaking], which is fine. That’s why some people say about Us-2 Evil-O, "O bakit siya nagmumusic ngayon? ’Di ba direktor ’yun?" It’s actually the other way around.
Who are your favorite local bands?
Right now it’s Taken by Cars. I’m really happy their song’s my last music video before leaving. Before leaving, my last music video is "This is Our City" by Taken by Cars so I’m really happy to have gone off on that note. There are a lot of bands playing in the Rakenrol premiere on July 23-Taken by Cars is playing, Itchyworms is playing, Ang Bandang Shirley, Ciudad, Outer Hope, Kate Torralba. Even the band in the movie might be playing. Everyone should go and check it out on July 23.
What’s it like to be the son of Dr. Vicki Belo? How close are you and your mom?
We are really, really close. I love her to bits. She’s a really good person-one of the most delightful and wonderful people in this world. It’s weird being known as the son of Vicki Belo. I chanced upon a Tweet recently na parang, "Nye! Anak pala ni Vicki Belo si Quark Henares. I’m really glad na people don’t just know me as [the son of Vicki Belo]. Parang nagugulat na lang sila na I’m the son of Vicki Belo. But it’s really great. More than anything, it’s a really good relationship and I’m really proud of her.
How do you feel about her engagement to Hayden Kho? What’s your relationship with him like? Are you guys, er, close?
I’m not really happy about it. I don't think anyone would be happy if their mom ended up with someone who’s known for videotaping women. I’m not happy, but my mom’s happiness is the most important. I will support her above anything else as long as she’s happy. Si Hayden, both Cristalle and I are watching him and I think we really have to kill him (laughs) if he hurts her again.
Alam mo OK naman si Hayden. He seems like an OK guy to hangout with. He’s nice. But nandun na eh. Ginawa na niya eh. Alam mo ’yun? So you can’t forget something like that. He’s an OK guy honestly, but patay pa rin siya sa amin ’di ba? (laughs)
*Henares has since apologized for threatening Hayden Kho Jr. Read more about it here.
An invitation from the filmmaker
You’ve moved to the U.S. to study at University of Southern California. What are you looking forward to? And what are you most likely going to miss about life here in Manila?
I will be studying for two years for MBA, Masters in Business Administration in USC. Honestly, I love my job and I love the Philippines. I don’t know if I’m really looking forward to anything, just watching bands maybe. (laughs) I’ll miss everything about the Philippines.
Where do you usually hangout here?
I have a number of businesses. I have a comic book store In Cubao X called Sputnik so I’m in Cubao X a lot. I guess in Route 196 and Saguijo. As producer of Rockeoke I go to Bowler a lot. What else? B-Side. Also Serendra because Blow-Up Babies is there. Anywhere and everywhere; there are lots of cool places to go to in Manila.
What should we expect from you when you get back two years from now?
Baka maging corpo douche ako noh pagbalik ko? Parang naka-tie na, "Hey, what's up?" (laughs) But I really don’t know. I will be as surprised as you. I want to make another movie. I want to continue doing what I do. Maybe now with the business background or maybe I can just work on my businesses. We’ll see. (laughs)
Photos by Mads Adrias, Odie Flores, Celine Willard, FHM, Alrik Abesames, Mitch Mauricio, Pong Ignacio, and courtesy of Quark Henares