Studying at IAFT was a great journey.

How was your learning experience in IAFT Cebu?

One of the most important parts of IAFT life was to hang around very passionate people who also had this same dream and ideas about creating films and theater.

Living on the campus, sleeping, eating, hanging out, chilling by the pool, constantly with each other in a constant dialogue about what we could create in school, it was like a bank filled with creativity. Most of our ideas were really shit and we made so much crap in IAFT. Probably one out of 100 ideas turned out to be something good. But we did it, we took risks, tried silly characters, played around, tested each other’s limits, and that’s the learning process, that’s how we developed our skills and which the school allowed us to.

Another great thing with the school was our teacher Alex Murphy. He is great in many ways but maybe mostly, because he knows good writing. When we did our performance nights, we were handed good writing even tho we didn’t know it ourselves back then. We did not know how to separate good writing from bad, so we were lucky to have Alex there doing that for us. This is essential for an actor starting out, to get our hands on good play material. Alex taught me to honor the writer, and I had so much use for that in my career.

What were the best memories you have of IAFT?

My best memories are the performance nights, all of them. Those nights taught us, the hard way, how to interact with a real audience. They say that the audience will teach you everything you need to know. And I began to understand that there. Sometimes it felt like riding on a wave, when you can feel in your whole body that the audience is with you, and they will react to your every move or spoken word, then you know they are constantly listening to a story being told and not an actor performing, that feeling is addictive because it is so great. And there were also nights where we could feel that the audience really wasn’t in the scene, just watching actors performing and a not real life character. Probably because we didn’t move them enough that night, so that was bad acting and just as an important learning experience as when our performances turned out good. Learning the hard way!!

Any current projects?

I just finished shooting a short film, directed by a Swedish, Colombian director named Hernan Quintero, staring me in the lead role, produced by the company Casa Luego in Sweden. Earlier this year I also did a supporting in a role in the feature film named Finding Alice. I did a lead role in a project called Pleasure where I played a transsexual prostitute, for the movie Pleasure,  it was a short film that screened at Cannes a couple of weeks ago.

But the most important for this year will be the feature film TILT that I shot in Manila last year. Starring me and Mercedes Cabral in the leading roles. I went a couple of times to another city in Sweden this year called Gothenburgh to record some additional post sound for the film together with director Samir Arabzadeh. The film is finally done this week after a year of work with editing, color grading and so forth. Our producer Bianca Balbuena made sure to send our film to Venice Film Fest. They will let us know if we get accepted early next month. If we do get accepted, that is a huge success.



I found what I needed in IAFT!

After four months of being here, it still feels surreal that I am studying Acting at the International
Academy of Film and Television in Cebu. I can’t believe that I am already in the middle of my second
term at IAFT. Just before writing this, I was in class with our brilliant acting mentor, Alex Murphy. My
favourite part of today was the new improvisation exercise we tried. I used to be scared of improv, but
my training at IAFT has helped me let go of inhibitions, be willing to learn from mistakes, and have fun
no matter what.

Life at IAFT is great! It’s challenging and enjoyable. I’m glad I chose to jump in. I began my first
term in February 2016, just a couple of weeks after leaving my job as a medical technologist. I worked
for four years, and it was on that fourth year when I finally decided to do what I’ve been dreaming about
for much longer. I had already taken a few workshops, but I wanted more comprehensive acting training.
I couldn’t afford to study abroad yet. I wished for a place in my home country where I could build a strong
acting foundation. I was hungry for the right tools, techniques, and teachers. When I discovered that IAFT
had a campus in Cebu, I was hopeful. Now that I’m here, I am not only hopeful, I am sure. I chose
correctly when I picked IAFT. I found what I was looking for.

The admissions staff make it easier to adjust to life here. I had to fly to Cebu from Manila. It would
be my first time in Cebu, and I did not know anyone. However, the student advisors took extra care to
make sure I had a place to stay. It was a much smoother transition than I thought it would be. I am very
thankful for it.

I like that there are students and mentors from all over the world. Sharing cultures and ideas
makes people more broad-minded and unprejudiced. I also like that the school is small enough for
everyone to get to know one another. We hang out with students from different levels and programs. We
talk to all the mentors, even those whom we wouldn’t normally have classes with. Somehow, we all find
opportunities to work together. Animation and Filmmaking students get to become actors sometimes.
Acting students get to experience not only work in front of the camera, but also behind the scenes. I think
that this dynamic is very important because we learn to understand and respect each other’s roles. We
learn by doing and by being open.


It’s not all work either. There is a nice student lounge for us to hang out in, and food places nearby
that we could visit or call for take-out.

I love that I can be myself. I’m surrounded by people who enjoy a
good laugh, but who are also insightful about serious things.

I love life at IAFT! I learn something new every day. I like pushing myself, and I appreciate it when
my mentors and classmates push me to be better, too. Every class, every shoot, every person, and every
experience has something to teach you. The key is to be humble, generous, and open. I’ve been here a
term and a half, and I’m enjoying every moment of it. Coming to IAFT is truly one of the best decisions I
have ever made.

Affy Varona
20 June 2016