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Friday, August 14, 2009

Norbert Caoili: Fil-Am breaks into Hollywood

A Filipino-American, who grew up and was raised in Washington, has made it to Hollywood with the release of his first feature horror film Frayed.

Norbert Caoili, who grew up in a tightly-knit Filipino family in the US, said his movie’s release is the realization of his lifelong dream.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Lock It In Entertainment will release Frayed and will be available on DVD nationwide on Aug. 25.

Caoili was co-writer and director of Frayed, as well as the editor, sound mixer and music composer.

Frayed is a story of a small town sheriff’s worst nightmare when his homicidal son escapes from a psychiatric hospital. The movie begins when the sheriff launches a massive manhunt to save the town and his family from his son’s brutal and violent psychosis.

What begins as a familiar slasher storyline, quickly becomes a psychologically dizzying thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Caoili enthuses that the film is not the usual and predictable slasher movie Hollywood often churns out.

“The end has a mind-blowing twist that will leave you shocked and disturbed. Just when you think you know where this film is going... you don’t!” says Caoili, who admits filmmaking is his first love.

Doing the movie has not been a walk in the park, Caoili says.

“Frayed is a seven-year project that me, along with my childhood friends, Rob Portmann (co-writer/director) and Kurt Svennungsen (co-writer/producer), have been dreaming of since our adolescent movie-making days in Kent, Washington,” Caoili says.

“Frayed is a slasher with a psychological twist, directed in the style of the classic suspenseful horror movies we

grew up watching. Frayed is frightening and visceral. One scene near the beginning of the movie may be too difficult to watch for some viewers,” says Caoili.

“I believe it is the tension and suspense created in the film that will affect viewers the most,” he adds.

Frayed was well-received at film festivals around the country and the world and received glowing reviews. It was one of only a handful of horror films to screen at the renowned Santa Barbara Film Festival.

It was picked up by Lionsgate after the movie’s premiere at the prestigious L.A. horror festival, Screamfest.

Frayed has also been released in Germany and will soon be on the shelves in the Canada, U.K., Thailand, the Middle East and other countries.

Tony Doupeí, a stage actor and drama teacher, plays the lead role of Sheriff Pat Baker. Doupeí has appeared in several movies, including Angelina Jolie’s Life Or Something Like It. Alena Dashiell (Menefee) stars as Sara in the film and is serving with the US Navy in Europe.

Caoili is the son of Filipinos and his father, Bert Caoili has been the president of the Filipino Community of Seattle for the past decade and an ardent Gawad Kalinga(GK) supporter.

The Caoilis are very involved in helping the poor in the Philippines through GK.

“Every day after school, we made movies that allowed us to ëstab, shoot and blow up our friends. We occasionally had run-ins with the local police for using illegal fireworks as special effects and once faced the barrel of an officerís shotgun when one of our friends thought our prop guns were real. Our ultimate dream was to someday make a feature film,” Caoili says.

Caoili graduated valedictorian from Kent-Meridian High School in 1987 and attended the University of Washington to study engineering- to follow in the footsteps of his father, a mechanical engineer and sister, Monica, an electrical engineer.

But about two years into his studies, he decided that engineering wasn’t his calling and decided to go back to his true love — filmmaking.

Caoili double-majored in Broadcast Communications and Political Science and shortly thereafter started his own video business with Portmann, shooting weddings and events.

They also produced a local cable comedy sketch show called Bert and Bert Theater and shot their first short film, Coup De Grace.

With his good looks, Caoili also got involved in front of the camera as a model and musician.

He even won the title Mr. Asia-Pacific International in 1994 which led to assignments in the modeling business.

Gifted with a good singing voice, he also performed as a singer/songwriter in various bands, including his R&B duo, MBD: Music By Dezign.

In 1996, Caoili formed Quantum Productions with his business partner, Mike Lorrain (visual effects artist/sound recordist) and began producing corporate videos and TV spots. Caoili honed his skills producing, directing, editing, sound mixing and music composing - all of which would become essential in creating Frayed.

Caoili thought their dream has all but come to a halt but in 2002, he received an unexpected call from Svennungsen who wanted them to continue their dream of doing a feature film.

Caoili, Portmann and Svennungsen formed Lock It In Entertainment to produce Frayed.

Their big break came when the Screamfest Film Festival called to tell them that their movie was accepted and Frayed premiered in LA at the Chinese Mann Theater. After that, many distributors began inquiring about their film, including Lionsgate, which they eventually signed with. Frayed also played at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, Nevermore Film Festival (North Carolina), Riofan Film Festival (Rio De Janeiro), Fantaspoa Film Festival (Brazil) and the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival (Arizona) where Frayed won the award for Best Cinematography.

After this movie, Caoili is now working on his next film project, developing several scripts including a World War II period film that takes place in his native country, the Philippines.

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