Gayle Oblea is proud to direct a film on mental illness

Published September 6, 2022, 7:23 AM

by Annalyn S. Jusay

The 80s actress Beverly Vergel may no longer be active in local showbiz, but her legacy lives on in upcoming indie director Gayle Oblea. Gayle considers herself a “daughter” of Beverly, as it was during her five-year stay with the veteran actress that she decided to make films for a living.

“My mama (Beverly) encouraged me to be an actress at first, but I really don’t have the courage to perform in front of so many people. Then one time she brought me to a location shooting in Quezon, where I met the late  Maryo J. de los Reyes. I just loved the whole culture that I saw behind the scenes. That’s when I realized I really want to be a director,” the 30-year-old Gayle narrated.

Currently, Gayle specializes in short films that focus on mental illness, being a self-confessed bipolar herself. Her directorial debut “Blush” won for her the Best Director Award in Sine Siklab Film Festival 2019. For 2022, her offering is the 18-minuter  “As The Moth Flies” which they are planning to enter several film festivals abroad through the help of leading distribution company TBA Studios. Gayle’s group Creative Kartel collaborated for the movie with Rav Singh and Happy Manila as executive producers.

Gayle Oblea

“As the Moth Flies” centers around the relationship of Tonette and Jett (played by Mina Cruz and Boo Gabunada, respectively). As the story progresses, the film shows Jett going on a downward spiral as he deals with his demons. Then the couple ends up in the office of the psychiatrist (portrayed by Epy Quizon).

Having watched the movie a week ago, we can’t help but be amazed that a depiction of a heavy subject like mental illness can be delivered in 18 minutes or so. But yes, the young director with the whole talented cast did it. We couldn’t think of any other artists who could have played it much better than Mina, Boo and Epy.

Gayle considers it her mission to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness in Filipino society. She feels that most of the films touching on the sensitive topic are “sanitized and inaccurate.” To her mind, the very people who can shed light on the illness in the movies are those who suffer from it themselves.
She confesses to being a high-functioning bipolar and the screenplay of “As The Moth Flies” was written by her sister, who suffers from chronic depression.

The cast and production team of ‘As The Moth Flies’ during the screening at Century Mall Cinema

“I feel that in order for you to talk about mental illness, it’s either you understand it, you have enough research or you yourself experienced it, so you can interpret and execute the movie right,” she pointed out.

As a young director, Gayle has put on herself the goal of opening the minds of other people on the prevalence of mental disease and ending long-held myths.

“Nowadays, whenever someone is referred to as having a mental problem, people say it’s just drama or labels the person as suicide-prone. There are so many layers about the illness that people don’t see or understand, and I want to be the one to help voice it out,” she added.