The dreamy mood of Mike de Leon’s ‘Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising’

If you’re into Filipino movies, you have probably heard of Mike de Leon, a film director who re-defined Filipino movie making which such films as Itim, Kakabakaba Ka Ba? and Sister Stella L. Although Itim and Kakabakaba Ka Ba? will always be my favorites among his work, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising left a distinct impression on me. Not because of the story — I’m not really a fan of love stories — but because of the mood.

Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, starring Christopher de Leon and Hilda Koronel, was shot in Baguio City. It’s a dreamy place alright with its pine trees and foggy mornings and evenings, and a perfect backdrop for romance. But at the time the film came out, there were rumors that Mike de Leon used a special camera filter to enhance even more the dreamy appearance of the film. The scenes, especially those shot outdoors, all had that fuzzy, glowing appearance that gave the feeling that everything was taking place in a dream. My words cannot give justification but that’s about as best as I can describe it.

I have been obsessed with the technique since. When I started using an analog SLR camera in the 1990s, there was one afternoon when I used my brother’s filters (without his knowledge hehehe) and took photos of then one-year-old Alex playing with a blanket on a mattress on the living room floor. After the film was processed, it had that exact fuzzy, dreamy effect that I wanted.

The idea, of course, is to buy the same kind of filter for my DSLR. I did wonder though if it was possible to create the same effect with the use of digital editing tools like Adobe Photoshop.

Then, I read this and voila! bird of paradise flower bud

It was exactly what I wanted. I wouldn’t have discovered it on my own because all I really use Photoshop and GIMP for is to crop and resize photos.

Click on the photos above to view them in large format.