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COVID-19 lockdowns in the Philippines have been some of the longest, strictest and most deadly in the world.
MOST OF OUR CAST MEMBERS HAVE LOST 100% OF THEIR INCOME SINCE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC BEGAN. Our producers have done all that we can financially, providing emergency COVID-19 financial assistance to cover housing and other necessities. With no clear end to the pandemic in sight, completing this feature film has become the quickest path to economic recovery for our cast.
In April, 22 protesters were arrested during a protest to demand food aid. Hours later, The president of the Philippines responded with a speech in which he ordered police and military to shoot lockdown violators “ My orders to the police, the military and the barangays: If they become unruly and they fight you and your lives are endangered, shoot them dead! Let’s see. Dead. Instead of causing chaos, I’ll just bury you." 
50% of the money we raise here together will be split between our cast to support their urgent needs. The other 50% will be used to complete the film - which will also generate income for our cast, well beyond their Filipino standards. 50% of future profits from the film will be shared by the cast.
Before COVID-19 hit, nearly one in five people  in the Philippines were already living below the poverty line -- the international poverty line is US$1.90 a day, less than the cost of a cup of coffee here in Vancouver, Canada. That means 22 million Filipinos were barely surviving before the pandemic. A staggering 8.1 percent of the population did not have sufficient income to meet their basic food requirements . In October 2020 The European Network on Debt and Development stated that since the beginning of COVID-19 an additional estimated 7.3 million people in the Philippines have temporarily or permanently lost their jobs, and are edging towards extreme poverty . The Department of Labour and Employment estimate 3 million more could lose their jobs before the end of 2020 .
At present, the pandemic lockdowns have caused Jaya to lose 100% of their income. Yet they continue to share what they have, feeding young kids and teenagers who come by when they are hungry, sharing their groceries with neighbors, housing 4 other adults, and supporting 3 of their students. Rent and bills are months overdue, they have had to sell their fridge and other appliances, electronics, and their vehicle. Their running water was cut off when they had to make the decision to put food on the table instead of paying that bill.
Jaya urgently needs funds to pay their rent, pay their bills, get their water re-connected, money for groceries, and to buy back their fridge, muimui and their beloved scooter.
Raul's income has dropped to PHP7000 (CAD$188) a month and he does not qualify for Government Social Assistance Raul and Amelia are both seniors, they urgently need money for food and medical exams. Their home suffered damage from a recent typhoon and there are urgent repairs needed for their safety.
Arnel is in his last year of high school. He does not generate an income. The producers of this film have supported Arnel's basic living expenses for the last 2 years. The money Arnel would receive if this crowd funder reaches its final goal would sustain Arnel's basic needs for nearly 2 years and pay for his college tuition.
//// ABOUT THE FILM
ASOG is a hybrid docuficftion film. A contemporary roadtrip comedy set on Leyte Island in the Philippines. It follows the story of a 40-year-old non-binary school teacher named REY. During the day Rey teaches high school students and at night they perform at Karaokee bars as a proudly gay comedian named JAYA. When Rey embarks on a road trip to compete in a drag pageant, they encounter one of their students, ARNEL. The struggling teenager is mourning the death of his Mother and travelling in search of his estranged Father. Rey is reluctant to take responsibility for his student outside of the classroom, but sees it as an opportunity to subsidize his own trip. As they travel together to a neighbouring island they encounter a series of surreal and funny obstacles along the way.
*Prinicipal photography was completed last year and we are currently in post-production.
ASOG takes place on the frontlines of climate change and explores LGBTQ+ issues, corporate land-grabbing and the legacy of colonialism in the Philippines. However, ASOG is also a pre-figurative production. We don’t simply want to tell a story that raises awareness - we want to tell a story that raises the quality of life for the people to whom this story belongs.
Jaya, Arnel, Amelia and Raul really did survive Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm in recorded history, which claimed the lives of more than 18,000 people  They lost loved ones, their homes were destroyed and their communities decimated. Amelia and Raul's homes truly were stolen by a developer that seized their land while they were still in evacuation centers.
After taking a helicopter flight over the city, U.S. marine Brig.-Gen. Paul Kennedy said "I don't believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house." 
Before the storm, Jaya worked as a school teacher, they were a successful touring comedian and the host of their own talk show. After Haiyan, the school where Jaya worked was destroyed, along with the television studio that hosted their show.
The director's last film WHEN THE STORM FADES allocated money the same way, 50% of crowdfunded money and 50% of the film profits went and continue to go directly to the Filipino cast of that film: The Pablo family. The Pablos we're able to make necessary repairs to their seaside home after it had been destroyed by a typhoon, they were able to pay for their children's education, they purchased an income-generating 'sari sari' store and when they were inevitably displaced by climate change adaptation construction they used the money to buy a new home.
//// ABOUT THE WRITER/DIRECTOR
Sean Devlin 叶 世民 is a Filipino-Chinese-Canadian writer/director/stand up comedian/prankster/activist. He most recently served as a Consulting Producer on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. For his last feature film, WHEN THE STORM FADES, The Director’s Guild of Canada presented Sean with the Emerging Canadian Director prize at the 37th Vancouver International Film Festival. The film earned Sean two international festival jury prizes for Best Director (Liverpool & Mumbai) and won Best Canadian Film at the 19th Gimli Film Festival as well as two Vancouver Film Critics’ Awards. The film is currently available worldwide via 1091 Pictures - HERE.
ASOG is his 4th feature film as writer/director. He has also directed nearly a hundred shorts (television commercials, short films and music videos). He has produced content for internationally renowned outlets such as Amazon Prime, The Guardian and CTV. His productions have been featured in The New York Times, VICE, The Globe & Mail and exhibited at Copenhagen’s prestigious Kunsthal Charlottenborg. He has been commissioned to teach his production methods by many of the finest universities and art festivals in the world. These include The Hemispheric Institute (NYU), Central Saint Martins - University of the Arts London (UK), Munich Academy of Fine Arts (Germany), Das Arts Masters Program (Netherlands) Roskilde Festival, Space 10 (Denmark), Vilnius Academy of Arts (Lithuania), Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland), Matihla Cultural (Brazil) and at Istanbul Technical University (Turkey).
For over a decade the primary focus of Sean's activism and artwork has been climate change. In 2011 members of Sean's family in the Philippines lost their home in Typhoon Sendong, two years later Typhoon Haiyan decimated Leyte Island where his mother was born and raised. He has directed 3 feature films and one short film in the last 6 years exploring the impacts of climate change in the Philippines, with a specific focus on communities where his family comes from. Sean's most recent films are docufiction hybrids, starring real Filipino climate survivors re-enacting and re-imagining their own life experiences within fictional narrative constructs. Sean’s activist work is rooted in principles of climate justice and ancient practices of creative disruption. For four years he worked as the principal artist and Executive Director of the political comedy organization ShitHarperDid.com. The Huffington Post declared it “The viral phenomenon that captured the digital zeitgeist during the 2011 federal election.” While the Globe and Mail praised the group’s work for “winning the viral video war with a stealth campaign that’s been spreading like prairie wildfire.” In the years that followed the organization crowdfunded numerous self-produced ads onto national television and exposed government deception through Yes Men-style impersonations. Sean twice successfully infiltrated former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s personal security detail in order to bring national attention to Canada’s contributions to climate change and the global refugee crisis. These performative interventions caused one Conservative Senator to call for changes to the law so that Devlin could be imprisoned. Since 2011 he has worked as a “thought stylist” for the Yes Men and as a facilitator and project manager for the Yes Lab (NYU) supporting artists and activists around the world in developing their own disruptive creative practices.
In 2014 he directed this short documentary about Typhoon Yolanda's impact for the country's largest alliance of storm survivors The People Surge:
//// THE CAST
REY ACLAO / JAYA
In 2014, Sean directed a short documentary about Typhoon Haiyan that featured the Pablo family. During this production he met Rey Aclao, a non-binary school teacher and comedian organizing weekly shows that helped people laugh and grieve collectively. As a professional comedian, Sean had great admiration for Rey’s work. As a filmmaker devoted to exploring the climate crisis, he was drawn to Rey’s artistic practice as an example of how impacted communities conduct their own recovery. Rey is a Haiyan survivor, having lost Loved ones and a recording studio in the storm. The way Rey tailored their comedy to support grieving audiences is profoundly inspiring. For 5 years Sean has continued a correspondence with Rey and has learned about the history of Filipino stage comedy and the role of non-binary artists within it. For over 20 years, Rey’s artistic practice has involved using comedy to hold space for collective grieving. As a Filipino-Canadian comedian who has been performing stand up, improv and sketch for 18 years, Sean has been deeply influenced by this opportunity to learn comedic practices that are specific to Filipino culture. Sean hired Rey to help coordinate ADR recording for WHEN THE STORM FADES. In addition to the salary they were paid for ASOG Sean has supported their living expenses through 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rey is the foremost professional comedian and performance teacher on Leyte Island, this financial support directly facilitates the ongoing work of nurturing the Asog tradition and the artistic celebration of LGBTQ+ identity on this small island. As a co-star Rey is also receiving 15% of the film’s profits.
This marks the 3rd film Sean has made with Arnel and members of his family. From the perspective of the heart, the Pablos have become part of Sean's extended family. Regarding quality of life, the Pablos’ neighborhood is being demolished to make way for a climate adaptation wall. All of WHEN THE STORM FADES’ theatrical profits went towards successfully buying a new home for Arnel and his family. Furthermore, 50% of all profit generated by sales of that film go directly to members of the Pablo Family. In addition to the salary he was paid for ASOG, Arnel’s schooling and material needs are supported through a weekly stipend from Sean for nearly two years. As a co-star Arnel is also receiving 15% of the film’s profits.
AMELIA DELA CRUZ & RAUL RAMOS (DISPLACED RESIDENTS OF SICOGON)
During 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan thousands of seaside residents on the island of Sicogon fled their homes. However, some were blocked from returning to their homes by a real-estate developer who had seized their land to build a resort. Amelia and Raul are two of the elderly residents who were displaced. They are leaders in their community. On top of their fee for appearing in the film and the travel and hotel expenses we covered for them, we also filmed sit down interviews with them. These interviews had nothing to do with Asog. Rather, we intend to release these interviews publicly in support of a looming litigation battle they are entering into. For their supporting roles, Amelia and Raul are splitting 15% of the film’s profits. With an additional 5% going towards ongoing community organizing led by the displaced residents of Sicogon.
//// THE CREW
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Anna MacDonald
Anna MacDonald is a Canadian/American cinematographer currently based in London, UK. She is an accomplished cinematographer across shorts and advertising, having more recently delved into feature-length. Anna studied cinematography at NFTS where her graduation film 'Come Out Of The Woods’ won the Panalux Award for Cinematography and screened in the Student Etudes Competition at Camerimage 2017. Her latest short “Good Thanks, You?” screened at Cannes 2020 and is nominated for a BIFA. Anna is represented by Vision Artists.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / SECOND CAMERA UNIT/ ASSISTANT EDITOR: Aya Garcia
Aya was born and raised in Manila. She is a collaborative storyteller, videographer, and editor currently living on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations. Her most current projects focus on intimate portrayals of the artist, the creative process and the impact of art within communities. Her work extends a commitment to creating interdependence through art. She enacts her lens in order to create worlds apart from the industries that extract resources from women, people of colour and any historically marginalized groups. Aya’s work can be found at www.ayagarcia.ca. When she is not filming, editing or hidden away in her dark room, Aya is surfing or hanging out with her dog.
PRODUCER: Amanda Ernst
Before getting into film in 2019, Amanda spent nearly a decade working in various areas of the music industry. Before taking up residence in Vancouver, she was head of Marketing with strong roles in Artist Relations and Career Development with Atlas Artists, A Division of Evenko & The Montreal Canadians. There she shared a role in strategic development, producing in collaboration with renowned international partners (The Agency Group, Windish Agency, High Road Touring, CAA UK, Fat Possum, ATO Records, Dine Alone). Amanda has represented some of Canada's most innovative artists and creators including Stars, We Are Wolves, Dusted and more. ASOG is Amanda's first feature film.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / DRONE OPERATOR / SOUND: JP Sarmiento
JP is a film professional and avid surfer based in The Philippines.
CO-PRODUCER: Shane Supernova
Shane was born and raised in London Ontario. Now a freelance media producer, and communications manager, he has created and managed content for organizations such as For The Refugees, Greenpeace, No More Silence, CUPE, and more. Bridging social and environmental justice with the internet has proved to be the best way to mobilize the masses. This led Shane to produce crowdfunding campaigns in relation to trending political or social events. Since 2012, he has been a part of raising over $250,000 for a variety of different organizations, campaigns, and entire communities. More recently he has co-produced 2 feature films in the Philippines and continues to work in marketing, distribution, and development for WTSF Films Inc.
 "21 protesters demanding food aid arrested in Quezon City" - CNN
 "Duterte tells police, military to shoot unruly quarantine violators" - CNN
 "Proportion of Poor Filipinos registered at 21.0 percent" - Philippine Statistics Authority
 "A poverty assessment for the Philippines" - The World Bank
 "The Philippines, Covid-19 and debt: Left alone to deal with the pandemic" European Network on Debt and Development
 "DOLE estimates 10 million workers will lose jobs this year due to COVID-19 pandemic" - CNN
 "Typhoon Haiyan: at least 10,000 reported dead in Philippine province" - The Guardian
 "Typhoon Haiyan survivors in Philippines desperate for aid" - The CBC
- Amy Cornish
- Matthew Stern
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