The Mascot Scene

Date posted on June 28, 2012

On this week’s Flashback Fridays is a photo from Won’t Last A Day Without You‘s mascot scene.

Ah yes… the mascot scene.

This was part of the montage where, after Andrew threatens to report George to the KBP, George is forced to help Andrew get back with Melissa. The purpose of which is to provide the com part of the Rom-Com, and narratively, to drive home the point of how Andrew, despite his charms, is blatantly clueless about what it is like to romance a woman. His girlfriend, no less!

The moment I read this sequence on the script revision, I was really disappointed. If I were being completely honest, I just felt that this kind of scene was tired and cliché. That we were going to make a character don a costume was not all bad, per se. In the same way that a leading lady hopping on to the male consort, piggy back style, is not all bad. That, or a character running after his love interest as he or she leaves aboard a departing bus.

Such a scene, like “the mascot scene”, is most certainly not bad in itself. In fact, they’re usually really effective in delivering the comedy and romance that audiences not only expect, but crave for in the genre.

What made it bad, and what disappointed me about it is how, when taken in the context of the past films made by Star Cinema, it just came off as, like I said, tired. Old. Rehashed. Thus, clichéd. In the same way that those Korean scenes are tired and clichéd.

The first time I remember seeing “the mascot scene” was in Direk Joyce Bernal’s Til There Was You, when Judy Ann’s character put on a costume for a children’s party. Part of the many odd jobs she took on to make ends meet. It was certainly hilarious, and surprising, and even poignant! Well done, surely.

The next time I saw it, it was a little closer to home. In the penultimate sequence of Direk Cathy Garcia’s You Are the One, Sam Milby’s Will Derby drove through the Manila traffic in a desperate attempt to stop Toni Gonzaga’s Sally Malasmas. Simultaneously, he wondered how to get her to forgive him after he practically pushed her away. He drove by a lechon stall (rotisserie) and a bulb lit up. As the film closed, we saw Will dresse in a pink (like the one below) pig (although below’s is a bear) costume, asking Sally to forgive him, and hoping to convince her by virtue of his “pagpapakababoy” right then.

A third time I remember seeing “the mascot scene” was in Direk Ruel Bayani’s Paano Na Kaya? Yet again, a little bit close to WLADWY as it also starred Gerald Anderson. Thankfully, it wasn’t him who was wearing the costume, but the lovely Kim Chiu.

So yeah, I was well aware of how many times Star Cinema has resorted to this. Making it worse is the fact that it was used in one of my films (though I wash my hands off it. I didn’t write the mascot scene in You Are The One, and wouldn’t have allowed it printed on any paper if I had a say in it), and that it was used in another film where one of my lead stars was a part of.

It was disappointing because this was precisely why critics tended to feel like mainstream cinema is lazy and a sell out, and times like that, I shared that sentiment. I, too, agreed that there must have been another way to make the audiences feel kilig, without resorting to the same old recycled sequences. As a writer, I’ve always challenged myself that way. It’s hard enough to churn out love stories or romantic comedies with a fresh perspective or a new message to impart. We don’t help our case when we do it with the same, familiar gestures. As writers & filmmakers, we have to take it upon ourselves to innovate the genre.

Unfortunately, being the new director that I was, I was sort of bullied into shooting the scene anyway. I guess I didn’t have the confidence to demand a rewrite (and not when we were already behind schedule) when all of the bosses have unanimously agreed that this “mascot scene” was necessary and perfect the way it was. It just proves how challenging and frustrating it is to work in mainstream cinema sometimes.

In the end, I did my best to keep the scene without making it look and feel tired. Thankfully, there was enough in the written script to use so the scene remained relevant and not merely functional. I tried to make myself like the scene, tried to enjoy it myself, so the audiences would also find appreciation for the scene’s reinvention or re-imagining. Whether through the blocking, the element of surprise, the farcical mounting and its awkward resolution, I blindly hoped for success.

Truth be told, this turned out to be one of the most fun scenes we shot. Sarah was really game in putting on the costume. Lots of credit to her because that damn thing really smelled! We were laughing all day while we were doing that sequence. The awkwardness of making prim and conservative Sa walk around with this ginormous, heavy costume created a light atmosphere. She couldn’t help her giggles as she kept getting off balance. It was so infectious that even Ge couldn’t help but goof around while she was in it. In fact, the final cut of this scene that made it to the movie, where Sarah almost fell over as Gerald rushed and dragged her towards the ladder was as real as it could ever be.

In the end, I think we did succeed. The levity of the moment seeped through and I’ve had many people tell me it’s one of their most remembered and enjoyed scene in the movie.

So anyways, below is a BTS photo of us shooting my mascot scene. Sa was already wearing the Carebear costume while I gave her & Ge final instructions before taking the shot.

If anything, at least I got to do my own version of this “classic” Pinoy rom-com eksena… “the Mascot Scene” :)