We talk to director Rod Singh about exploring your sexuality, and his new webseries streaming on Blued

When I was in college, I was a total ho. Not that there’s any shame in that; I fully support getting your freak on while you’re young. And as long as you’re doing it safely, there’s no better time to explore your sexuality.

Now that I’m a bit older, priorities have changed and I’m not as promiscuous as I used to be (at least that’s what I like to think). But sometimes, you just gotta let loose and let that old freak flag fly, amirite? Go to a club, wink at some guy, and let the rest of the night be a blur. Or join an orgy, perhaps? (Again, no judgment allowed — this is a safe space).

All of this is the subject of Mamu (And a Mother Too) and Isang Tula Para Sa Nawawala director Rod Singh’s new web series OrG!. Created with the dating app Blued, it has eight five- to seven-minute episodes that stream directly from the app. The story revolves around medical graduate Ram, who is secretly dating filmmaker Nico. Ram just so happens to be in an orgy group, so that shakes things up for their budding relationship. I spoke with the director via email on exploring one’s sexuality, the process of creating a web series, and why HIV doesn’t have to be at the center of every gay story.

 

 

YOUNG STAR: Tell me about how this series began. What made you want to make a show about, well, orgies?

ROD SINGH: The original idea was to make a romcom about a femme character. But Blued told me that they did something like that for (their previous series) ‘UR_Tadhana’. I decided to pitch something controversial. Well, in general naman, gay sex is controversial. ‘Yung idea ko for controversy is not for clout, but to open discussion. (In the) gay community, you’ll be surprised na there are a lot of sex-negative individuals. Sobrang stigmatized na ang sex; paano pa ang orgy, hindi ba? So sabi ko, why not make a story about orgies? Baka lang ‘yung stigma sa orgy nanggagaling dun sa kawalan ng kwento.

 

What were the hurdles you had to overcome to produce the show?

Sobrang daming challenges sa totoo lang. Una na dito ‘yung running time. Eight episodes na five to seven minutes. Challenge na masabi ko lahat ng gusto kong sabihin, so ang ginawa kong atake…from the color grading, to editing, to design — lahat ‘yun ay may dahilan. Pangalawa, casting. My plan was to create a non-conventional orgy group na may buff, may twink, may maputi, maitim, mataba, matangkad, maliit, bata, matanda. Kaso, mahalaga din ‘yung chemistry. Sa audition, ‘di nagwowork ‘yung chemistry nila… (so) dun na ‘ko sa twink professionals para hindi na komplikado. Kasi mahirap din ‘pag ‘di ko na-pull-off. Shooting the sex scene was a challenge too; sobrang laking bagay na may tiwala ‘yung actors ko. Inaalagaan ko sila in a way na pag magsho-shoot na kami ng sex scenes, ako at camera guy lang ang nasa set. Or minsan three to four kami from production tapos sila. Malaking bagay na maalagaan ko sila kasi as a director, maalaga ako sa artista lalo na pag mabigat ang hinihingi ko from them.

Let loose: OrG! follows the story of medical graduate Ram, his relationship with filmmaker Nico, and their relationship with Ram’s orgy group.

Apart from exploring orgies, the show is also about relationships. What can we expect from the show on this front?

Gay relationships in general are human. Just like any hetero relationships. May conflict, may challenges, may mga circumstances. When I make stories about LGBTQIA+ people, I make a story that is universal, something that can also resonate with het and cis individuals. Kasi ang point ko, we are just like you. We are human, too. So ‘di ako ganun ka-fixated to make something so unique dahil the thing with our society is, ‘yung mga unique na tao ay treated differently. Spectacle na nga minsan, so ako, umiiwas ako doon. Gusto ko pare-parehas lang tayo, nagkataong iba-iba lang ng circumstances.

 

The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing rates of HIV infection. How are you addressing this in the show?

For me, ‘yung sex negativity ng mga tao marahil nanggagaling dito sa issue na ‘to. So ako, iba ang atake ko — na for sexpositive individuals, as long as it is safe and consensual, it’s fun. I skipped the idea na may HIV involved, kasi feeling ko ‘yung target audience ng show ay hindi naman clueless about HIV. Siguro for me lang, HIV is not a default part of every gay story. Do we expect the same thing ba for heterosexual stories na sexy? Na may HIV involved? Hindi naman diba. Eh ang atake nga ng campaigns ngayon na hindi siya gay disease. So might as well start reclaiming that narrative na HIV should not be a prerequisite for every gay story, but it depends sa audience ha. Eh kung ang target audience mo ay young ones for example, maganda na ma-open na ‘yung idea sa kanila.

In making a show like OrG!, Rod makes sure that his actors feel like they can trust him, especially when shooting sensitive scenes.

What do you hope viewers will glean, learn about themselves, or want to try after watching the show?

Well, hopefully, kahit ma-shake lang talaga ‘yung perception nila sa orgy culture. For five to seven minutes per episode, challenge ‘yung ma-convert or maiba mo ‘yung pag-tingin nila. So for me, kahit dun na lang sa magsimula na silang magtanong about it, or maging curious. Baby steps, but still.

 

OrG! streams on Blued. Download it on the app store, or visit blued.com. You must be 18 years old and above to use the app.

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