Posted August 14, 2017 by Yuri Mangahas in Movies/TV

THE DIALOGUE: Firing The Birdshot with Mikhail Red and Mary Joy Apostol

Rarely do we see a local film that succeeds in achieving the compositional aesthetic typically seen in Japanese and Korean films. Numerous helmers have stepped and tried, but neither of them seemed close to achievement. We have gone so much into the Western visual form that we have lost touch of our Asian foundation.

Fortunately, one young director laid the steps for what could possibly be one of the best films in the Philippine scene. Apart from its Asian-styled visuals, the movie succeeds in juxtaposing a tale of corruption and blood with a tender coming of age story, prompting success from film festivals left and right.


Birdshot is Mikhail Red’s second film after his 2013 debut flick Rekorder.

Enter, Mikhail Red’s Birdshot.

After receiving critical acclaim in last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, the film served as the opener for 2017’s Cinemalaya, and is set to join in the upcoming Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

FlipGeeks had the opportunity to chat with Red regarding the film, his inspiration for forming Birdshot, and what drives him to direct striking movies.


FG: Where did you source the inspiration behind Birdshot? Is there a particular event that inspired the team to craft this film?

I was making my first feature Rekorder back in 2013 when I encountered a news article about a farmer who mistakenly shoots, kills, cooks, and eats a Philippine Eagle. The culprit was jailed even though he claimed he was unaware of the law protecting the national bird. It’s situations like these that fascinate me as a storyteller, there’s no clear line between protagonist and antagonist, everyone is morally ambiguous struggling to survive the foodchain of society. This is what inspired me to craft the tale of Birdshot.

How was it working with Mary Joy Apostol and the rest of the cast?

Mary Joy Apostol is a natural, we went through hundreds of hopefuls before we picked Mary Joy for the role. She had the perfect balance of graceful innocence and fiery ferocity. She drew rave international reviews for her debut performance, I am really proud of her and I know that she will go far in her field. Working with veteran actors John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes, and Ku Aquino was also quite convenient for me. They had the instinct to perfectly portray their morally complex roles while being patient with me since I had to do multiple angles to create a visually dynamic film.

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 3.51.06 PM

Marie Joy Apostol’s acting debut in Birdshot was met with praise from critics and audiences alike.

How can you describe the film’s aesthetic? In a glance, one can say that it is a bowl of different Asian styles rolled into a beautiful piece. 

Cornfields over rice fields, cold versus warmth, every visual aspect of Birdshot was carefully controlled. I wanted to create a nomadic western parable but set in the Philippines. I wanted a very dynamic approach to the film language because even though the film is peppered with social relevance it is still a genre thriller on the surface. Aesthetically i was inspired by Asian films like Memories of Murder and western films like No Country for Old Men, i wanted the two cinematic cultures to clash and to create a hybrid of a film that’s layered with both substance and style, that’s both entertaining and engaging.

Aside from Marie Joy Apostol, veteran thespian and TBA staple John Arcilla joins the fray in a support role.

Aside from Marie Joy Apostol, veteran thespian and TBA staple John Arcilla joins the fray in a support role.

What drives you to direct films like these?

Philippine cinema is vibrant, so many different genres and styles are showcased in our local films. But I guess that as a storyteller and filmmaker I have found my niche with these kinds of mystery thrillers, I feel that it is not commonly explored compared to rom-coms, heavy arthouse and horror, and If I didn’t make these films who else would? I basically try to create the kind of cinema that I would like to see as an audience because I am still a film fan at heart. If i want to see a certain kind of film and no one is making it, i will have to do it myself. After Birdshot’s release I will be in production for my nocturnal assassin drama set in urban manila entitled Neomanila, It will premiere this October for Qcinema, and my murder mystery horror set in an all girls catholic school entitled Eerie, which should be done by 2018.

NEXT: Budding actress Marie Joy Apostol sits with FlipGeeks as we delve further on her preparation for Birdshot, and the road that lies for her.

Yuri Mangahas

Yuri is magnanimously juggling between two managerial jobs: A technical manager position for an advertising/copy-writing company, and an associate editorial position for a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Nevertheless, he still finds time taking photos and seeking for geek nirvana.