Star actors Marian Rivera and Piolo Pascual (both seated) have cameos in the film as “big stars.” Find Vilma Santos (Ate Vi) at the back with other “bit players.”

All eyes are now on Vilma Santos as the Star For All Seasons joins indie filmmaking and tries her luck in international film festivals, starting with Cinemalaya, with her latest movie “Ekstra,” directed by the multi-awarded Jeffrey Jeturian.

Jeffrey, FYI, is the same director who gave veteran actress Gina Pareño a number of international acting awards from the movie “Kubrador.”

He also currently directs the hottest daytime drama on Philippine television, “Be Careful With My Heart.”

Pinoy film buffs are wondering if Jeffrey’s magic will also work on Ate Vi, who was deglamorized (with no make up!) to play a bit player.

Several big names like Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera, Cherie Gil and Richard “Sir Chief” Yap have cameos as “big stars,” with Ate Vi as one of the harassed extras on the set.

However, the ever humble Batangas gov clarified that she didn’t do “Ekstra” to win international recognition.

“I don’t want to focus on competition,” she noted.

“I just wanted to experience doing an indie film. I was always intrigued by how [indie filmmakers] did it in such a short span of time and with a limited budget — yet they have [scored] such big contributions to the artistic side of local filmmaking. In my own little way, I’d like to contribute to the indie world...even if it’s tiring and ngarag (hectic) mode ako shooting for 17 hours every day. It’s not easy dividing my time. Of course, my priority is my duty as a public servant in Batangas.”

“I’ve never experienced being an extra. In my first movie, ‘Trudis Liit,’ I was already cast as the lead. I’ve always wondered what’s it like to be an ordinary movie worker.”

When asked what she learned about bit players while shooting, she replied:

“How hard it is for them...they are always last priority, especially those that are in ‘class B and C’ — part of the crowd or passersby. Sometimes they stand in as doubles for the lead stars. No movie can be made without extras. They shouldn’t be taken for granted. We all start somewhere and work our way up. This movie is my tribute to bit players who have supported me in all my movies.”

“They love picture-taking!” she added, with a laugh.

“Sometimes they get so excited and forget that the scene is not yet finished, so they are reprimanded. Sometimes the food on the set is not enough so they don’t get to eat. I always made sure to have my staff buy food for them.”

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