Radhaa Nilia is a multimedia artist and producer. We spoke with her previously about her directorial debut with Hope Cafe. And catching up on a short film she Produced called Freight Train. Here’s the scoop:
What inspired you to Produce Freight Train?
I was inspired to produce ‘Freight Train’ because I think there is something very important about discussing matters that are often hard to talk about. With films, you can explore tough subjects and people will watch it. This film is about love, loss and depression. Depression can lead to suicide.
Statistics show men are much more vulnerable to suicide when depressed. I think this is something that we as a society should be discussing. It’s an epidemic in America, especially for men. Women are much more expressive with their grief and feelings overall. While men struggle silently. This film really steps inside that struggle and gives a closer look from the perspective of a man. It’s very revealing of another perspective that we don’t often see in films. We have so many stereotypes for leading men. The tough guy, the hunk, the perfect partner, the villain, but hardly ever do we show men’s deep vulnerabilities.
This film left me wanting more, why did you make it a short instead of a full feature?
In this film, we wanted to capture one moment suspended in time; between two worlds. The most powerful moments we experience in life are short-lived but life changing. Our approach was to laser focus on his life, at a singularly intense moment. Although the film is short, there was nothing that we felt was left out. The story is laid out clearly, though the conclusion leaves the viewer to think for themselves. We wanted to leave the audience with an open-ended question, something to dwell on afterward, and hopefully discuss with friends.
This film was so well done, who was the Director and Writer?
Zen Freese was the director and writer of ‘Freight Train’. He is a very talented writer and director who captured the intensity of this film perfectly. Visit his website: http://www.zfcreative.com.
The lead actor Raymond Bagatsing left a lasting impression. Can you tell us more about him?
The main lead is Raymond Bagatsing. He is an acclaimed and award-winning actor. I worked with him previously on my first Indie Film project called ‘Hope Cafe’. He played Pastor Jones and did such an amazing job. I knew he was meant to be the lead in this project. He is one of the best actors in the world and I feel blessed that he was able to find the time to be our lead actor.
We filmed ‘Freight Train’ in a heat wave that was over a hundred degrees in the middle of the desert. The sun mercilessly beat us down. Raymond stayed focused, in character. Not once did he complain. I can’t say the same for myself. But he was a real actor. A director’s dream come true. Raymond completed his scenes, flawlessly. In addition to the heat, Raymond fasted to make the desert scenes even more impactful. He is a method actor and devoted to his craft.
It was quite miraculous, really, and I am still in awe of him. He’s the real deal. Although he is based in the Philippines, he is an international actor and we were very lucky to have had the chance to work with him again. Because of him and all of the team working hard on this project, Freight Train went on to win best short film in Hollywood. Raymond picked up best Actor for his role.
In addition to producing, you also play a role in the film, tell us about your role.
I play Raymond’s wife in the film. A wife who feels that the marriage may have lost its spark. Communication is important in marriages. My character doesn’t know how to communicate and acts on instinct rather than reason. I think that’s something that happens a lot in relationships. In a way, she becomes a ghost of the past that haunts him throughout the film.
You filmed in the middle of the desert, what was that like?
On the first day of shooting it was a bit intense. We were about two hours out from anyone. And it looked like a mirage at first when the police came by our set. They were searching for a body. There was a whole team of them scrounging every inch of the desert. We were basically on an active crime scene and had to pack up and move everything after we had already set up our camp. It was tough to re-pack all the film equipment in that heatwave and move to a new location. The next morning while having breakfast we saw on the news, they recovered a body from the area we were in. It was both sad and creepy. But we only had one day left and had to make up for the lost time. We went all the way up to the desert cliffs in a very isolated place, and then within an hour, some police pulled up again. They got out and told us to be on the lookout because someone was running loose with a gun in the area, and was considered armed and dangerous. They warned us, but we could not afford to move again, so we just kept filming even though there was a leering threat in proximity. That was one wild experience. I found it ironic that the subject we were touching was someone that was so close to the edge. The film begs the question: How can we support men more when they are on the edge. And especially during tumultuous times.
You can find Radhaa Nilia:
https://RadhaaNilia.net https://www.instagram.com/radhaanilia https://www.facebook.com/RadhaaPublishing
You can find Raymond Bagatsing: https://www.instagram.com/raymondbagatsing https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0046532/