Up-Close … with Philippe Angelo Ernesta, film producer, director & screenwriter-‘Risky challenges are my life force’


29-January-2013

Philippe ErnestaTo make your dreams come true, you have to rise above your thoughts and get into the action part somehow because it is your dream and it is up to you to make it become a reality.

For Philippe Angelo Ernesta, a man who truly believes his creator and himself, he is on the right path of realising one of his biggest wishes to produce films and other audio visual products internationally with the launch of his film production company SEY BIOSCOPIA.

Dreams…
Philippe had set his mind to achieving something in the field of engineering and yes he did.

“I managed a city and guild degree in electromechanical engineering which I satisfactorily practised for many years and later acquired a degree in marine engineering,” he recalled.

“My dream was to acquire a multi-engineering degree but my involvement in cinematography in the mid 1980s caused things to split half-way,” he said.

“But whatever I had acquired in engineering has helped me to easily grasp new skills, knowledge and discipline required for film-making.”

In no time at all I was able to handle responsibilities as a special effects technician, my speciality, apart from producing, he added.

Growing up...
“I was born and baptised at Cascade but spent some of my early childhood days at Roche Bois as well,” he said.

So how was life back then?
“It was hard, we had to make all our toys on our own, spend most of the day at sea or in the forest searching for fruits,” he said.

“I have moments in my early days that have marked my life and one that I remember well is at the school assembly, when my father whipped me in the presence of all teachers and students.”

Taking a little revenge so as not to be whipped again, Philippe threw away his teacher’s stick.

His school days were spent at the Saint John Bosco and Cascade schools and later he travelled to outer islands with his parents. He continued his secondary education at Anse Aux Pins and finally post secondary at the Technical School & Polytechnic, wanting a career in engineering.

Island life...
“I have had great experience when I was on some of the outer islands such as Agalega and Farquhar.”

He smiled as he recalled life on the islands − a life far from hardship, daily life worries but very close to Mother Nature.

“Honey, bird eggs, lobsters, turtle meat, you name it, all was in abundance at that time,” he said, recollecting the souvenirs of his early life.

Listening to him, I realised that he surely had been through staggering experience and fun on those islands compared to his early childhood days on Mahé.

These unforgettable souvenirs of life have been engraved on the walls of his heart and bring on a smile whenever he recalls this part of his past.

“Living in harmony with nature, among donkeys and horses, has enhanced my way of life as a naturalist, conservationist and has had great influence on my career presently as a film-maker,” he said.

“My adventurous nature took me to La Digue, and though an Ernesta, I discovered I had no relatives there and, finally, ended up on Praslin where I’ve lived for many years.”

Work...
“Ever since my school days were over, work became a top priority; at times from 5am to very late in the night,” he said.

“I want to thank my family for their support and for understanding my work and way of life.”
After completing his studies, Philippe joined the professional world as a petrol and diesel mechanic.

He then decided to become self-employed and ran his own mechanical workshop and various businesses.

“But later, joining the film-making industry in the year 1986 which took me half-way around the world working in most reputed studios, acquiring knowledge and discipline systematically changed my way of looking at life,” he said.

Philippe with Bollywood partner Suraj

Two decades later, juggling between engineering and film production, in the year 2006 Philippe took the turn to further his knowledge in film production in all aspects.

“Pursuing an in-depth study in cinematography, I spent the next five years away from all sorts of enjoyment,” he said. “With no financial income, just imagine my situation in a nothing-for-free world, something I do not want to be reminded of.”

But even if he suffered in silence as he told me, Philippe was determined as ever to equip himself with the skills and knowledge needed to be a professional film-maker.

“I am currently managing my own production company SEY BIOSCOPIA in partnership with Bollywood based BIOSCOPIA,”

Inspirations, role model and interests in life...
Ever inspired by the almighty creator, Philippe is a self believer motivated by challenges he faces in life.

“I enjoy listening to music especially lyrical and virtuous Creole music, but I also appreciate other forms of art.”

“As for what inspires me, it is always nature, inspiring personalities and my family. My father, an incorrigible jack of all trades, has always been my role model when I was growing up.”

The disciplined man as many would describe him staunchly believes in our educational well being and etiquettes.

“My main challenge was when I decided to take the plunge to be a film-maker. No matter what, I was determined to attain my goals and objectives and I did it,” he said.

Life as a producer...
“Well, it’s simply hard work and sacrifice tagging along with loads of responsibilities and discipline. It’s also about knowledge and vast amount of experiences.

Curiosity led me to ask the man who had spent more than two decades in film production about his reasons for going into this field.

“Very good question! I might not know why, but what I’m aware of is that risky challenges are my life force.

“After all it is a lucrative business and a very interesting career, where you also get to meet people of various nationalities. And then you move on to a new project maybe every year, the freshness of which sustains your interest and enthusiasm all the time.”

His business venture with the Bollywood producers...
“For some time I’ve been vetting various international production companies from all corners of the world including Bollywood,” he said.

“Eventually I have managed a collaboration with Bioscopia of Bollywood. Two of their important representatives, Suraj Kumar Jaiswal (producer-director) and Shellee (content writer & songwriter) were recently in Seychelles and thus SEY BIOSCOPIA has come about, where the company is quietly working and developing a number of projects and some of them will go into production when we are ready.”

Films he has worked on...
Philippe has worked on a number of films such as Pirates, Castaway, Robinson Crusoe, Gross Fatigue and also on international commercials like Bacardi and others.

He has also worked on some Bollywood movies namely Fareb, Papa Kehte Hain, Tamanna and a number of his own productions.

Last words...
“SEY BIOSCOPIA is looking at producing a bilingual Creole and English language film targeting international audiences, besides few other projects to tap into rich Seychelles history and culture cinematically, which will definitely bridge the gap between Seychelles and the outside world as well and make the whole world take note of this beautiful country and what it has to offer. An enterprise like this cannot be concluded successfully without enthusiastic support and co-operation of the people of Seychelles.”

 

by Mandy Bertin

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