A global pandemic might not be conducive to a fiery romance show, but on an idyllic beach in the Philippines anything can happen. At least that’s what actors Charlie Dizon and Jameson Blake are going for in their new romantic series ‘My Sunset Girl’, directed by Andoy Ranay and streaming from July 14.
The actors reunite for their third project together, a romantic drama about the young Lucas and Ciara who find romance — first online and then on the shores of the scenic, seaside town that they live in.
Ciara has been locked up at home due to a medical condition but longs to see the world. She strikes up a social media friendship with travel enthusiast Lucas and when they meet they go on adventures that Ciara could never have dreamed of. However, based on the trailer, Lucas might not have the best intentions for Ciara.
Dizon, 25, and Blake, 24, previously starred together in the 2020 movie ‘Four Sisters Before the Wedding’ and in a Valentine’s Day episode of the anthology series ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’. In a Zoom interview with Gulf News, they share their excitement about their show and explain the intricacies — and little joys — of filming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What can the audience expect from ‘My Sunset Girl’?
Charlie Dizon: It’s about Ciara who is an 18-year-old woman who has been stuck at home all of her life because of her condition called xeroderma pigmentosum wherein she can’t be under the sunlight because it might affect her immune system and might cause her death. I think people might relate to it nowadays because we’re still under the pandemic and we still can’t go out of our houses, and they can relate to Ciara’s experience because she can’t really go out of her house because of her overprotective parents. When she meets Lucas online, another journey of her life will unravel and soon she will find out a lot of secrets.
I watched the trailer and one thing that really struck me was the beautiful location and natural beauty. Where was the filming done?
Jameson Blake: It was in a province called Batangas. It’s near the seaside so it’s just pure beaches.
What was it like filming there during the pandemic?
Blake: When we were on the beach, we felt free, I guess. Because it’s just the beach and it’s just us and the scenery is nice. So it just made the shooting even easier and made it more fun to do because of the location.
Dizon: It’s my first time going to the lighthouse [a tourist spot in the province] and seeing the whole body of water in Batangas. It was a very interesting and engaging experience for me because a lot of us can’t really go out... because when we have work we still need to do quarantine in our house before we go inside the locking bubble. Because of our locations and our accommodations in Batangas we really had a great time seeing the view and being with nature again.
You mentioned the bubble and quarantine. What are the technicalities of working in the pandemic that people might not understand?
Blake: They might not know that every time we start a movie or a certain project, we have to get swab tested even afterwards. And we have to stay quarantined for like maybe one to two weeks before we go into work and we have to follow the protocols and everything. It’s a different set-up from before when we could go to work and then could go home right after, but it’s not like that now. Now once we get to the location we have to stay there until we’re done and it’s packed up.
What was it like working together?
Dizon: It’s our third project together. We’ve done a movie and a series here in the Philippines. Working with Jameson is always a great experience, of course, because we’ve known each other for a long time. So we are very comfortable with each other and I think that helps a lot. It makes the work easier when you’re comfortable with each other. How about you Jameson [laughs]?
Blake: Yes, the same thing. It’s always easier to work with someone that you know, especially since we’ve known each other for a while. We don’t have to put a lot of effort to develop chemistry since it develops naturally. Since it’s our third project it’s much more light and it’s easier. We understand each other, we can help each other, and if we have any concerns we can just talk about it.
Are there any moments that stick out in your mind about filming?
Dizon: For me, we shot this series for a short period of time and during that time it was always raining and we really had a hard time doing it because most of our locations are at the beach. But most of all, my main takeaway is that I’m really glad that I got to work with the whole team because they were very efficient and they were very good team players.
Also the memorable parts are the our locations. The lighthouse, the beach… we have this one scene wherein the sun is literally going down. So I’d like to always remember that scene.
Blake: Same with me, I also enjoyed all the beach scenes, the colour, the vibe. Nature just brings out a lot when we do the scenes. And I also noticed when shooting started happening during the pandemic, every time I’m in the bubble I enjoy it because you get to bond with everybody, our co-actors. You’re not going home and it’s just you guys. So it’s like a temporary family.
One of the aspects of the series is that it starts out as a social media and online friendship. As people who are young and living in this pandemic, where meeting friends is hard, how did you related to this concept?
Dizon: Well, I’m more on the traditional side, so I’d like to meet the person first… not just on social media. But I think it’s fine to have a friendship over social media. There’s nothing wrong with that but I’d like to remind everyone to be vigilant and to be careful because nowadays there are lots of scammers also [laughs].
Blake: I have the same point of view when it comes to friends. I like to play games a lot so I meet a lot of people over the internet and actually become good friends with them. I’ve been enjoying the experience of meeting new people, but when it comes to [romantic] relationships maybe that’s a different story. When it comes to something serious, maybe it’s better to take it the old-fashioned way.
What do you think about social media and how it impacts relationships nowadays?
Blake: I’m looking at the more positive side. I just imagine if we didn’t have [social media] in this pandemic it would be really hard. We couldn’t even stay in touch with our family. Social media made things easier and has impacted us in a good way. But in a negative way, people are so hooked up with devices and everything because we can’t really do much, we’re stuck at home, right?
Are there any dream roles that you have for yourself?
Dizon: I would like to try… in the Philippines it’s called ‘bida-kontrabida’, it’s like the antagonist/protagonist all-in-one. So, I’d like to try that kind of role… I think it will be challenging and fun to experience.
Blake: I actually want to try something more action. If I got the chance to make a movie, or like a story, maybe something like ‘James Bond’.
What do you think fans will enjoy most from the series?
Dizon: Of course our love story in this series and the scenery. I’m sure people around the world will be curious where is that part of the Philippines. And also the lessons of the series, like… will [the couple] still be able to love [despite what happens] to them and what is the concept of freedom to them. I’m so excited for [audiences] to see it.
Blake: What they’ve seen on the trailer it not even half [of what’s in the show]. So much is going to happen.
Since this show is all about romance, what are your favourite romantic movies and TV shows?
Dizon: I’m actually into K-dramas, because most of them are romantic or romantic comedies. Someday I’d like to do something like that. And I like the movies here in the Philippines … [such as those] from Miss Toni Gonzaga… called ‘My Amnesia Girl’ and ‘Starting Over Again’; she’s my idol.
Blake: I’m not really a bit romantic movie watcher… but one movie I remember is ‘The Notebook’ — that’s pretty old, but that’s so far my favourite out of everything I’ve watched. When it comes to shows, I usually watch different kind of shoes like suspense and stuff like that.
Don’t miss it!
‘My Sunset Girl’ streams on iWantTFC every Wednesday from July 14.