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How The Flip Side Inspired Me As A Young Film Student

As a film major, navigating through the uncertainties of the film industry can be mind-boggling at times. I know that I’m lucky that I have the opportunity to study my passion but sometimes it gets really frustrating to go on, especially during the pandemic.

I take comfort in the fact, though, that I'm not alone. Other artists have also struggled through this uncertainty, such as Rod Pulido, who recently spoke with Samahan about his groundbreaking film, The Flip Side.

Rod Pulido smiling next to a vase of flowers
Filmmaker Rod Pulido (Image courtesy of Rod Pulido)

In an interview with Samahan, Pulido stated that “The Flip Side” means the Filipino side, also known as the B-side or the side that you never hear. It was styled that way because, during the late ‘90s to the early ‘00s, Filipinos — and Asian Americans in general — were rarely seen in mainstream Western media. The Flip Side centers on a trio of Filipino siblings trying to assimilate into America and was the first feature film by a Filipino filmmaker to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Inspired by Spike Lee who wrote, produced, and directed Do the Right Thing, Pulido took up filmmaking because he always wanted to tell stories.

You’ll notice that the movie is filled with common Filipino house paraphernalia such as a lolo who lives with the family, a giant spoon and fork hanging on the wall, the no shoes in the house policy, and more.

Also notable is that the film was shot in black and white. Pulido explained that he chose to film in black and white rather than in color because the theme of the film is that “the world is not just black and white.”

Characters in the film, especially Marivic, Davis, and Darius, are shown searching for different ways to root themselves in America. Marivic leans towards white American culture and even gets a nose job, believing it will make her more attractive to her white boyfriend. Davis, meanwhile, identifies more strongly with Black culture. Darius takes a different tactic; instead of trying to assimilate into a different culture, he immerses himself in his Filipino cultural roots.

With a running budget of $8,000 and a camera package grant from Panavision, Pulido was able to shoot the film in 25 days. A true storyteller, he wanted to write about his experiences as a Filipino American and share them with the world. For him, the main rule of writing is to write what you know. “Every time Hollywood puts out a film about people of color, it’s always shown in the white lens," explained Pulido. The Flip Side set out to disrupt that and became the first Filipino American film ever to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Filipino American man sitting at information desk at Sundance Film Festival
Rod Pulido at Sundance (Image courtesy of Rod Pulido

Pulido’s advice for creatives is to surround yourself with people who support you and to use the naysayers’ words as fuel to motivate yourself.

He emphasizes the importance of approaching it as honestly as possible by learning your craft well and putting in the work to master it.

As an aspiring filmmaker who wants to have a feature film someday, listening to Rod Pulido’s words gave me the motivation, courage, and inspiration to continue to pursue this career choice despite its uncertainties. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Stay true to your voice and don’t let anybody water your vision down. Try to look at the journey; every day you get to learn something new.

To learn more about Rod Pulido, follow him on Twitter and Instagram! Also be sure to check on The Flip Side, available on YouTube.

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