Featured Video Play Icon

First Filipino-led film to be released by a Hollywood studio

In today’s segment we feature Filipino American film director #DianeParagas who directed #Yellow Rose – the first Filipino-led film to be released by a major Hollywood studio.

We caught up with her a few days before the October 9 commercial release and she revealed that more than the box office, she was more anxious about the movie reviews. But, she goes on to share that she’s thrilled they were all turning out to be positive, especially from all the major critics – The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, New York Times, LA Times and Chicago Tribune.

“It’s almost like putting your baby in a beauty pageant against your will. To be judged,” she says; and adds that she is just so grateful about everything at the moment.

Diane asks viewers, especially Filipino Americans to come and support the film but also to exercise safety when choosing a venue. She explains that “Hollywood is a business” and the performance of a film is the most important thing, especially during opening weekend.

She says that while is aware that there is a global pandemic, she hopes people will manage to make “Yellow Rose” one of the top movies of its opening movie, to send a message to Hollywood that “these are the type of movies worth supporting.” Especially coinciding with Filipino American History Month – it is also a good way to see this as a milestone for the community; and it needs to be celebrated!

Diane suggests ways to support “Yellow Rose” on its opening weekend – purchasing tickets and seeing it with your friends and family at your nearest theater; purchasing seats via Goldopen.com; going to a drive-in theater. And Diane reminds folks that the film’s soundtrack is also now available for everyone to enjoy.

Despite the success, Diane admits there were many challenges in the beginning. For one, she says it was very hard for her to get financing for the film. She was just somebody with an idea. After a couple of years trying, she even gave up on the film; though she continued directing and writing other films. But inspired by an Indian American Director who directed a South East Asian film, Diane says she realized there weren’t many directors creating Asian films.

“I realised it was my obligation, as somebody in a position who could do it, to tell these stories. If not me, who else,” she says; and now she notes that her film is showing in “over 800 theatres”.

Diane also talks about seeing so many filmmakers who fell into the trap of altering their film to adjust to their financiers’ instructions, which in turn, compromises the quality of the film. This, she says, made her uncompromising about “Yellow Rose.”

Despite many tempting offers, Diane says she did not falter. She continued to pitch the film the way it is – that it is a very personal story about a girl who grew up the same place she did – being the only Asian in her school and using music as an outlet: “It is about a girl who is struggling to find her voice in a world that is rejecting her,” she says.

Diane ads that she also soon realized that she was asking “permission from the wrong people.” Instead, she says she changed her strategy and came to her community, joining a competition held by ABS CBN called Cinematogrofo and that is how the film was financed. She chose to wait rather than compromise. And her patience has paid off!

Diane and Jannelle also talk about Filipina Princess Punzalan – who was the first to be cast in the film. Diane says she knew Princess would be the only actress who would successfully play the role of the main character’s mother. Diane adds she could see the “warmth of a human that comes out from Princess’ acting.”

Diane also shares her top 2 advice for fellow filmmakers – 1) “Listen to their own voice and know that their story has value despite anyone’s opinion. Believe in your voice and know that your uniqueness is your power.” 2) “Avoid asking permission from ‘outsiders’ as it is better to look to your own people. They will understand and support you in more ways than you would expect.”

She notes that there is a collaboration happening right now between the Filipino-American filmmakers who are all supportive of each other. Jannelle adds that the moment is now becoming a movement – – – of very passionate, like-minded and unique storytellers. And this is very exciting, as we are likely to see more movies like “Yellow Rose.”

In closing, Diane says she is just so grateful to be able to overcome the odds “after being underestimated by many in the industry.”

We bring you stories that matter.

Join SoJannelleTV’s email list and get access to our Zoom events and highlights.

Scroll to Top