Words by Stan Sy
Imagine being at the beach—no, not Boracay—somewhere less inhabited and more peaceful.
That pretty much sets the table for the music video for “Lutang,” Ely Buendia’s second collaboration with the Itchyworms, following last year’s “Pariwara.”
Directed by Audry Dionisio, the video was inspired by the 2000 film “Cast Away,” which Dionisio had never seen prior to the making of the video. “Lutang means ‘to float’ or you’re staring off into space, right? So we kinda took it literally,” she shares. “We went for the water concept. It just so happened that Roy Angara, who is the owner of Aliya Surf Camp in Baler, offered his place. He would take us around and use that as a venue for any music video—not this one yet, in particular.”
Audry Dionisio, director of the “Lutang” music video | Photo by Francis Reyes
It was an idea Dionisio kept in her back pocket until Buendia and the Itchyworms decided to shoot a video for “Lutang.” “It just so happened I had watched “Cast Away,” and I figured these guys are funny, let’s tap that and make “Cast Away” funny,” she explains. Dionisio previously directed the music video for Apartel’s “Sala Sa Init” alongside Apartel drummer Pat Sarabia. According to Dionisio, “[The music video] was so dark, so we chose a funny concept because we were like, ‘We don’t want to be known as those people who created really twisted videos,’ so let’s go for something light. And then I brought the “Cast Away” thing.”
With an idea for the destination music video in place, you’d expect huge production meetings to take place for discussions about the storyboard and the script. That wasn’t exactly the case for Dionisio and her team. Itchyworms lead guitarist Chino Singson shares that everything mostly came from Dionisio and Sarabia and that the whole shoot was coordinated via Facebook Messenger. In a world where a thesis meeting could take place on the Messenger app, this shouldn’t come across as surprising.
While the pre-production stage was something the team easily put together online, getting everyone to Baler at the same time was more challenging. Singson added that they had to work around the schedules of the Itchyworms, Apartel, the production crew, and the individual schedules of Buendia and Itchyworms frontman Jugs Jugueta. Dionisio explained that while the logistics of it all was challenging, everyone had fun throughout the two-day shoot. “It was light and it seemed like a free vacation,” she shares.
The shoot itself wasn’t fun and games, especially when you consider the fact that the musicians and the crew all had to hike up and down a mountain to get to the location, plus they had no roof nor tent to use as a shade in between takes. “[The location] was 30 minutes from where we came,” Jugueta tells Billboard Philippines. “It’s not far, but it was very hot. Sobrang nognog ko, tingnan mo! [Look, I got really dark!]”
“Wala ngang kahit ano,” adds bassist Kelvin Yu. “So nandoon lang kami talaga kaya nangitim kaming lahat. [There really wasn’t anything there. We were all just under the sun, so we all got pretty dark afterward.]”
Singson compared the experience to shooting the music video for “Pariwara,” which they shot in broad daylight in their suits at Cubao Expo. “Isipin mo na lang na magsuot ka ng slacks tsaka polo, tsaka coat, tapos magbabad ka sa araw. Mainit siya,” he narrates. “May breaks naman kami in between. We’ve been in more uncomfortable shoots—iyung mga mas mahahabang shoots—before. So isipin mo iyung “Pariwara”, naka-full suit talaga kami tapos nakabilad sa araw sa Cubao X. Pero iyan, medyo air cool kasi butas-butas, medyo mas comfortable pa. [Imagine wearing slacks, and then a polo under a coat, and just stay under the sun all day. It’s pretty hot. We had breaks in between, though. We’ve been in longer and more uncomfortable shoots before. So recall the “Pariwara” video, we were in full suits, and we were under the sun, shooting at Cubao X. But for this one, it was air cool because our clothes were tattered, so it was at least a bit more comfortable.]”
Drummer Jazz Nicolas told Billboard Philippines how natural it felt for them to project the castaway vibe because it was how they genuinely felt during the shoot. “Naramdaman talaga namin iyung pagiging castaway kasi ang init. Ang layo din noon, actually,” Nicolas says. “So iyung tired and sweaty look doon, totoo iyon!” But he maintains that it was all worth it anyway because of how much fun they all had while doing it. “It was a dream come true kasi nasa beach kami with Ely [Buendia] and the whole band, so sobrang fun lang. [We really felt like castaways because it was so hot. The location was far, too. So that tired and sweaty look, that was genuine! It was a dream come true because we were at the beach with Ely and the whole band, so it was fun.]”
Jugueta adds that the location was so appropriate for the shoot and just looked great for the video. “Just take a picture, no filter needed talaga,” he shares. “It looks good, ‘di ba? It’s just getting there is so hard. Just take a picture, no filter needed, really. It looks good, doesn’t it? It’s just getting there is so hard.”
Even though the location itself didn’t need a filter, there was some color grading applied in the editing to achieve the look and feel that Dionisio and Sarabia wanted—something Ely Buendia himself worked on while taking on most of the editing duties. The Pinoy rock icon told Billboard Philippines that he loves editing and that it is one of his favorite parts of the process of making videos. “I get to really put my stamp on the project,” says Buendia. “Audry [Dionisio] and I worked on it and I’ve also been reading up on [editing]. Actually, it was a training ground for me. I’ve never tried color grading before and I wanted to do it, so it’s the first time I’ve tried it.” He adds that after “Lutang,” this won’t be the last time he gets involved with the editing side of a music video.
Buendia and the Itchyworms surprised us all last year when they came together for “Pariwara,” and one year later, they’ve launched their second music video together for “Lutang.” “We thought that “Pariwara” would be the first and the last collaboration,” says Jugueta. “And then this happened. We didn’t expect it to happen, but it happened.”
While the video itself isn’t something one should overthink, there is a little easter egg in its director’s cut. Dionisio tipped Billboard Philippines off about the Marvel-like post-credits scene featuring a cartoony arrangement of the song, which Nicolas composed while he was in New York earlier this year.
Not bad for a video that was essentially put together via Facebook Messenger.
Ely Buendia and The Itchyworms released the official visual for “Lutang” on Jul. 31.
See more photos from the music video launch on July 12 at Route 196 Katipunan: