How did you approach the band for this project? What was their reaction, especially Arnel’s when he found out that it was a Filipina doing the documentary?
We approached the band through its management company. My manager, Peter McHugh (who also happens to be half-Filipino, half American-Irish) of The Gotham Group contacted their manager, John Baruck. It was months of negotiating back and forth and finally John Baruck understood the power of the story—after we had shown him a trailer of the first shoot we did with the band as they rehearsed in California in May. Now he’s our staunchest ally, which is great because we can’t really do it without his support.
Arnel had heard that I wanted to do the film and of course, he was familiar with my past work. He thought it might actually work. He has been great.
What was your impression of Arnel when you first met him?
Arnel is the real thing. His size belies his power on stage—he owns that stage when he’s on it. As they say, “Ang lakas ng dating.” He’s a real star and the camera loves him. He also cares very much about doing right by the band and the fans. He truly understands and respects the legacy of Journey and he tries to honor that in every performance. I believe that where he’s come from and how far he’s gone is never far away from his thoughts.
On a personal level, Arnel is down-to-earth and realistic about all the hoopla that’s happening around him. Believe it or not, he’s still extremely humble—and it’s not pa-humble. I think this attitude is informed by his personal history. He’s been around and experienced a lot. I’ve also found him to be a profound thinker, a true artist in that way. So when I hear some people say, that “He’s just a karaoke boy,” I’m thinking boy, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
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