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article imageActors Oscar Torre and Chuti Tiu Grow a 'Pretty Rosebud' Special

By Mindy Peterman     Apr 24, 2014 in Entertainment
Oscar Torre and Chuti Tiu not only have a successful marriage but successful careers in the entertainment business as well. They recently pooled their considerable talents to work on the film Pretty Rosebud, which was written by Tiu and directed by Torre.
The film Pretty Rosebud was written by actress Chuti Tiu (Beautiful, The Specials). Tiu has plenty of experience working in front of the camera but had no formal education in film production prior to starting the project. It didn't matter. Her script and the film, which was directed by actor and Tiu’s husband Oscar Torre (Libertad, Hangover III), resonated with many, garnering praise from critics and viewers alike. It was honored with five awards at the Idyllwild International Film Festival: Best Feature Film, Best Director (Oscar Torre), Best Screenplay (Chuti Tiu), Best Actress (Chuti Tiu) and Best Cinematography (Tarina Reed). This was a first in IIFC's history.
I recently interviewed the couple about what it took to get this project off the ground, their careers, and how they keep their marriage strong while working in the entertainment business.
Chuti, after working in the business as an actress for many years, why did you feel now was the time to branch out and write a screenplay?
I had actually written this first as a play over 10 years ago, then converted it to a screenplay. It's always important to branch out and employ other mediums for storytelling- it gives me a more global perspective of the whole filmmaking process. I knew it was time to get the film made when Oscar (then my boyfriend) said, "You'd better get this film done now; if you wait too long, you'll have to play the role of the mom!"
Please tell us about the film. What is its premise and what would you hope your audience will take away from viewing it?
Pretty Rosebud is about an unhappily married career-driven woman, Cissy, who tries to please everyone, but the pressure of it all causes her to crack. She ends up exploring some dark places in her efforts to find her true path.
This is something that I know a lot of people can relate to - trying to please others, to be liked. And in doing so, people end up not truly being themselves. It's a kind of inhibiting fear. I want people to have the courage to say, do, or be who they really are, regardless of any rejection or shunning they may experience.
Did a particular incident in your life inspire you to write this story?
I get inspiration from all over when I write: the newspaper, the television, even just people-watching and asking "what if?" So there wasn't a particular incident per se, but I had been in a marriage that ended up in a divorce, and that's never easy. Add to that being Catholic, and Filipino no less (the Philippines is one of the two countries in the world where divorce is illegal - the other is Malta). Talking with a lot of women and men who were in similar situations, I was able to glean a lot of interesting vignettes and characters.
Also, with being the child of immigrant parents, there's always a push and pull in terms of culture, beliefs and identity. Given all this, I had a wonderful cauldron of influences from which to draw upon when writing a script.
Oscar, you not only direct the film but you act in it as well. What sort of challenges did it present taking on this double role?
I knew it was going to be challenging, so I made sure to play a role that didn't have a lot of days of shooting. Thank God for monitors and the ability to playback the scene I just did. When you're in the scene as an actor, you only know how the scene felt but that is not always accurate. For example, in one of my scenes I had like five takes because I felt like I wasn't getting the performance out of myself that I wanted. But when we (the editor Donna Mathewson and myself) were editing the scene, we realized that my first take was the best of all five!
Who are the principal cast members in the film and was it difficult to cast this project?
Chuti and I are very blessed to have friends who happen to be excellent actors, so when it came time for casting, it was just a matter of them agreeing to be in our film. We had a few roles that we couldn't find in our pool of friends, so we did some casting, but for the most part it was people whom we had worked with in the past and are now friends.
Speaking of challenges, how was it working with your spouse on a project so close to your hearts?
In truth, it was very easy to work with Chuti - going into it, I really didn't know because I had never worked with her and thought that it might get a little weird, but luckily it wasn't at all. She was so professional, always very prepared and took directions very well. I joke with Chuti that while we were shooting the film, it was the only time that she ever listened to me! The most challenging part for me was that this was a film that Chuti had beautifully written, and I didn't want to mess it up by doing a bad job as a director.
Chuti, now that you’ve had critical success with this project, would you like to write more screenplays or, perhaps, novels?
Absolutely! I'm currently writing several other projects now, all screenplays. Don't think I have the patience for novels! But never say never, right? Basically, I am drawn to projects that have a message and illuminate some part of the human condition; I figure if I'm moved by something, there must be someone somewhere out there that will be moved, too.
Oscar, was this your directorial debut? If so, did you enjoy being behind the camera and would you do it again?
It was the most stressful thing I've ever done but also the most rewarding. I really enjoyed how creative the job is - having control of every detail that helps bring the vision to light and at the same time having talented, creative collaborators (from cast to crew) who are there to help you tell the story as best as possible.
On a more personal note, how do you find time to separate your professional pursuits from your family life?
It's really hard to separate the two, because any little thing might spark an idea and at that moment you either want to write it or share it with your partner, but we do try to take some time off and go on date nights or get away and try to not talk about the business.
Do either or both of you have any special plans or goals for the future?
Oscar: I am planning to direct a short in the summer that I wrote and will also be starring in it with Chuti [as well as] a couple other projects that Chuti is writing. Hopefully she'll let me direct. But at the moment, we are doing the TUGG screenings with Pretty Rosebud and playing at film festivals - which has been very exciting and rewarding to actually see the audience embrace the film and be moved by it. In the end, that's biggest reward you can have as a filmmaker.
Chuti: I confided in my friends that after finishing principal photography for Pretty Rosebud, I could die a happy person. It was this feeling of having accomplished a dream, gloriously giving life to a story...there's this electricity of creation. I will keep on creating, as an actor, a writer, and whatever else calls me, because that's what I was put on this earth to do.
Pretty Rosebud TICKET INFO & VENUES can be found here.
Contact Oscar and Chuti on Twitter: @ChutiTiu @prosebudmovie @OscarTorreActor
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