Coleen Garcia, Loisa Andalio to Star in Mikhail Red’s ‘Friendly Fire,’ Nadine Lustre Headlines ‘Nokturno’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Top Filipino director Mikhail Red (“Deleter”) will commence esports based film “Friendly Fire” imminently.

Red is currently serving on the international jury at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema and will commence the film as soon as he returns to the Philippines from France.

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“Friendly Fire” stars Loisa Andalio (“The Goodbye Girl”) and Coleen Garcia (“Kaluskos”). The film will follow Sonya (Garcia), a visionary female CEO who wants to put Philippine esports on the map. She scouts a young female player Hazel (Andalio) from a random internet cafe, sees the potential in her and trains her.

“It’s not your usual crime thriller that most of my films are, it’s something fresh for me and exciting. I like to think of it as my most wholesome project, because it’s more inspirational and it’s a genre I’ve always wanted to try – the sports movie and the underdog sports story,” Red told Variety. “Esports is becoming quite big, especially in the Philippines, and there’s this stigma and the lack of support. It’s very new and it’s something that a lot of people still don’t understand. It’s just interesting to follow the lives of these esports athletes who are handicapped in terms of resources, support, and even internet speed and lag.”

Internet cafes are a dying business in the Philippines and a part of “Friendly Fire” is set in one such cafe. Red says that the film will follow the beats of a classic boxing story and have a “rags-to-riches career fantasy journey.”

“Friendly Fire” is produced by Ten17p, which previously produced Red’s “Arisaka.” The film will be one of Red’s last few projects outside the studio system, the other being series “Dreamwalker,” as the filmmaker has launched a new venture.

Red recently revealed Evolve Studios, backed by Philippines media giant Viva Films, which previously produced his box office hit “Deleter.” Red found the experience of working with Viva extremely agreeable and decided to take the plunge.

“I always thought of heading a studio as more of an end game thing. Like after you’ve done a lot of films and you want to start your own studio, but I couldn’t help but say, yes, because they offered something that, honestly is quite rare in our country, which is co-ownership,” Red said. “And that’s a sad reality – a lot of filmmakers are very passionate, no matter what, they just want to tell the story, no matter the budget and the pay. But a lot of times, it’s taken advantage of by other studios – they own everything and you have no back end.”

“But this time, that’s the offer – when I said yes to Evolve, the biggest reason is the idea that they trust you enough and believe in you and as long as they’re happy with the end result, you have co-ownership and you have skin in the game,” Red added. “That’s a good initiative, inspiring, and that excites me with the creative control and focus in an entirely new in a way on the market that locally is quite rare.”

The business model for Evolve is to produce genre films by like-minded filmmakers, avoiding the three-year project market cycle and embracing the advantages of the studio system. Red will lead the venture as chief creative officer and his brother Nikolas Red, who wrote and edited “Deleter,” is creative producer.

Evolve launches with two films. The first, “Nokturno,” will be directed by Mikhail Red and will reunite him with his “Deleter” star Nadine Lustre. The film, which will commence production at the end of the year, is in the horror genre and follows an ancient curse that haunts a Filipino family. Lustre plays the daughter who left to work abroad and has to come back to solve the mystery. It is written by Rae Red (“Birdshot”).

Next up is sci-fi horror “Helel,” for which a director has not yet been finalized. The film will be about the first Filipina astronaut who encounters the devil in a failed orbital launch.

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