Fil-Am director Philip G. Flores, winner of “Netflix FIND Your Voice” filmmaking competition premiered his first feature film “The Wheeler Boys” at 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival
By Oliver Carnay
Twenty-eight years old Fil-Am filmmaker Philip G. Flores couldn’t believe that it only took six months for him to finish his first feature film “The Wheeler Boys” and had its World Premiere on June 25 during the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival presented by Los Angeles Times, at the same time streamed FREE on Netflix for 48 hours (at www.netflix.com/findyourvoice ).
Winner of 'Netflix FIND Your Voice" Fil-Am filmmaker Philip G. Flores with Oliver Carnay
Producers Chase B. Kenney and Philip G. Flores with Netflix, Inc. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, with FIND Executive Director Dawn Hudson.
As the winner of “Netflix FIND Your Voice” filmmaking competition, Flores received a prized package of more than $350,000 to produce his script collaborated with co-writer Max Doty in time for the 2010 L.A. Filmfest. Included with the grant was $150,000 cash from Netflix, a camera package donated by Panavision, Kodak color negatives from Kodak, dailies and release prints from Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, and a digital intermediate package from EFILM, a division of Deluxe. After winning, the script had its revisions and was fully developed in Film Independent’s Screenwriting Lab (where Flores was an alumni), and subsequently at the Film Independent’s Producers Lab.
The initial announcement of Philip’s winning was in January 2009 after ‘Netflix FIND Your Voice’ competition received more than 2,000 applications and scripts from aspiring filmmakers. FIND (Film Independent) identified 10 semi-finalists, who were each asked to submit a two-to-three minute video short related to the project they were proposing. The applicants had to be first-time filmmakers who had not yet created and publicly screened a full-length, narrative feature film of at least 70 minutes. Philip’s was among the top six highest number of the online voting process that was selected to the final round. Among entertainment industry veterans and accomplished filmmakers’ panel of judges include Josh Brolin, John Sayles, Dustin Lance Black, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, and Stephanie Allain.
“I always wanted to write a story set in high school, and I was fortunate enough to read Max's short story four years ago. It perfectly encapsulated my feelings and experiences in high school. It was incredibly realistic and authentic, and I wanted to do a high school movie that stayed true to that. We wrote “The Wheeler Boys” over the course of the past two years. We started writing the actual script at the end of 2008 and continued rewriting it until we shot at the end of 2009 after it won the Netflix FIND Your Voice filmmaking competition,” Flores noted.
Flores’ team started production in December 2009 and shot 22 days in Los Angeles (mainly in Lawndale, North Hollywood, Castaic, and Santa Clarita) finishing in late January 2010. “The most challenging part in creating the film was the schedule that we were up against. When we were first announced as the winners of the competition, we had roughly 10 months to complete the film, and it's been a sprint to finish in time for the festival and the Netflix 48-hour streaming window. Shooting on schedule was challenging but the biggest obstacle was when it rained for almost one week, but the particular exterior scenes became a blessing for the most part,” Flores said to this writer.
“The Wheeler Boys” is a story about Ted (Lorenzo James Henrie), a high school freshman who looks up to his older brother Truck (Alex Frost), the leader of the college frat known as “Kings,” who are engaged in a contest based on the sexual conquest of female classmates. Things go horribly wrong when Ted’s first love becomes another tally on the contest’s growing scoreboard.
In casting his film, Flores brought in Casting Director Matthew Lessall (Mean Creek). “I shared the same goals with Matthew and he brought in an amount of talented young actors in a very short time. Although, the casting process was very grueling and quick, we found all of our actors in less than two months. I love the casting process because you slowly get a better sense of your characters as each actor brings something to the role. Working with actors is one of my favorite parts of directing, so it was great to get a sense of them in the audition room.”
Cast members: Haley Ramm, Lorenzo James Henrie, Portia Doubleday, and Alex Frost
The talented cast members include Billy Cambell (who plays father to Ted and Truck), Alex Russell, Haley Ramm, Portia Doubleday, Olivia Crocicchia, Guy Wilson, John Lowell, Adam Cagley, Christian Alexander, Joshua Logan Moore, and many others.
Born by Filipino parents, Philip’s mom is a plain housewife originally from Ilocos Sur, while his dad is a retired doctor from Cuyapo. Flores was born in El Paso, Texas but raised in Southern California and growing up has “dinuguan” and “lechon kawali” as his favorite Filipino dishes He has only been to the Philippines twice but might plan to visit the Philippines for his next project in-development, an action-comedy set in the Philippines (in the tradition of Beverly Hills Cop and Three Kings).
His passion in filmmaking started at a very young age when his dad used to take him to see movies. He began making his own little films in high school and knew that he wanted to be a director. He studied filmmaking at USC where he earned his MFA in production.
“I was overwhelmed and surprised that we had won the competition. It was a surreal feeling, and it still hasn’t fully sunk in. Winning definitely validates me as a filmmaker and has given me unbelievable exposure here in Los Angeles. As a young director, it’s great to have that kind of notoriety. I definitely feel the pressure to follow up The Wheeler Boys with another film; there are greater expectations but I feel it can only help me grow as a filmmaker and improve my craft. My advice to other Filipino filmmakers is to continue making films and believe in your talents. Keep working to improve your skills and make better films, and sooner or later, someone will notice you and give you an opportunity.”
Philip G. Flores flanked by Lorenzo James Henrie and Alex Frost
Lorenzo James Henrie with this writer
co-star Alex Russell with this writer
L-R: John Lowell, Lorenzo James Henrie, Alex Russell, Alex Frost, Guy Wilson
Adam Cagley and Christian Alexander
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