TIFF 2015: Half-Filipino Chad McKinney stars in Beast
TIFF 2015: Half-Filipino Chad McKinney stars in Beast
By Rachelle Cruz
Beast, directed by the Mckeith brothers (Tom and Sam) captured the realistic nitty-gritty streets of Manila and the underground world boxing. The story followed the character of Jaime, played by newbie actor Chad McKinney, as a Filipino-American boxer pimped out by his father (Garret Dillahunt), an American expat. The film, shot in Manila for about 23 days, with 15-16 hour day shoots, was met with a lot of challenges during filming, but in the end, premiered in this year’s 40th Toronto International Film Festival.
Jane Schoettle, the founder and former director of the TIFF Kids International Film Festival, described Beast as, “a heart-pounding tale that captures your attention from the first frame and never loses its grip.”
The Philippine Reporter got a chance to interview actors Sam McKinney and Garret Dillahunt, including Australian directors, Tom and Sam McKeith:
TPR: Your film Beast made it to TIFF. What does it mean for you guys?
Garett Dillahunt: I’m just really proud of the McKeith brothers. I’m happy for them and for Chad too. All of them is sort of featured debuts, right? To get into a prestigious festival like that, I’m proud to be part of it.
Chad McKinney: I’m happy to be here, it’s kind of — mindblowing. And at the same time, not only that, I’m sitting next to Garett Dillahunt. And there’s pictures of me everywhere! It’s just one of those breathtaking experiences. Toronto’s amazing and the Toronto International Film Festival is just amazing. Actually, yesterday was the first time I saw Beast, they hid it from me!
TPR: So what’s your thoughts when you first saw it?
CM: I was in it a lot! (He laughs). The direction, the McKeith brothers, do look out for them because they will be doing a lot more. I just hope that I get a call again to work with them. Angeli Bayani and of course all my kababayans, ..
TPR: How did you get on board with the project and to be part of the film?
CM: I was at Elorde, Sucat, and I wasn’t even boxing I was training amateur fighters for the fights that night, you know how Elorde does their amateur fight night. And we were just hanging out and I saw Will James, who plays a character in the movie. He saw me in the boxing ring and walked up to me and exchanged info, had a camera, did some shots of me, I thought that was it. They were like, ‘We’re doing a movie’ and I was like ‘Ok, like somebody else is gonna get it like Jake Cuenca’.and I was like ‘I have no chance’. And then I got a call. The rest is history.
TPR: So what was it like working with Garett and vice versa?
GD: It was awful, awful, this guy what a pain (he said smiling). I could be his dad now, to that stage in my career. But it’s great, there’s so much–You just gotta walk outside in Manila, and you’re in this incredible environment and world that is so different. I stand out, but it’s great, this is my second movie in the Philippines. The last one we shot in the island of Bohol, which is much farther south, much more rural. So I never spent as much time in Manila, and you can’t lock Manila down, it’s too busy, there’s too much going on. But also a rich atmosphere for a film. Anywhere you turn the camera, it’s interesting.
TPR: Can you talk then about your character development and your dynamics as you play the role of his father to Jaime (CK)?
GD: It was very improvisational really in a way on set. They’ve just set up the situations and let us go. And it wasn’t that hard. I think with Chad and the circumstances we knew. You know I’m a guy, down on his luck obviously, knows a little about boxing and using his son to make his living, and certainly loves his son but he’s full of all kinds of regret and shame, and trying to impress his kid but at the same time he’s pimping him out, and here’s this boy, trying to make his own way and become his own man.
CM: I’m a LRT-MRT guy so it was nice to have these foreigners come to the Philippines and not wanna be in the Fort Bonifacio. They wanted to get the real aspects and elements of the Philippines. But I think what was good about my acting in it, and why I did so well, was I was able to take real life events that I went through, put it in, and it shone through.
TPR: Can you elaborate?
CM: When I did the movie, I just moved from the States from being a prominent boxer. And doing alright financially everything and I pretty much, not gambled it all away, but I wasted all the money, I was too young and they gave me all this so I found myself living in the Philippines on my dad’s couch, pretending that I wasn’t going out to Prive and going out and saying ‘Oh yah, yah, I’m still someone’. And the movie is what humbled me back down and I was able to take away from it. A lot of the character was, really, just me. Most people know me as the class clown or the happy-go-lucky, always making people laugh. No one ever gets to see that side, and even when I saw it for the first time, but I saw what they saw..
TPR: So where do you go from here?
CM: Well, I show up, even in boxing, I show up pretending I know nothing. Actually, not nothing, but I just go there and say, I know nothing, I’ll soak it up like a sponge. So it was great to learn off from these guys, different ways of acting, different ways of doing scenes. They hid the script from me. They would give me the lines, day of, and I had to memorize all the lines on the day of. They did it so I wouldn’t know the outcome. So that it wouldn’t show through. It’s raw.
TPR: What has been the reception like so far?
CM: No one walked out…(he laughed)
GD: It seems like it’s been well-received so far. It’s such an interesting world. It’s foreign to most people. If not Philippines itself, then the underground boxing in the Philippines is certainly not most something most people know about.