Caleb Ribates is a 20-year-old Filipino-Australian writer, director and curator. Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Film and TV course in 2021, Caleb is focused on telling stories of culture, identity, and self.
“I feel as a Filipino artist in Melbourne, there are stories that need to be told about cultures and philosophies that are outside of the western world. In my lifetime, I want to use filmmaking to not only display philosophies and experiences, but to preserve ideas and cultural identity for future generations to come.”
Why did you decide to pursue a career in films?
It’s the medium that helped me discover myself and my identity. It was really the epiphany I had when I discovered I can use cinema as a tool to express myself and understand my cultural roots. I did not really know myself until I started to question my character, flaws and everything I knew. When I saw the tiniest change, I decided the film was going to be a priority and a pursuit I wanted to chase.
What projects or work have you been involved in Australia and or overseas?
Most projects I’ve been involved in are within the short film world. I have written/directed 10 projects in the last four years (mostly terrible), and have written and photographed some others, mostly in film school. But recently I have been doing more projects externally, some music videos and shorts, I also interned for Slant, an upcoming Australian feature film.
Of the work you listed, any favourites or one that is closest to your heart?
I’m most proud of the recent films I have made this year. My VCA grad film FILO-BOY and two films from a collection of films I’m making this year – ‘if you’re a dream don’t wake me up’ and ‘ANAK’. I think only recently my films are starting to reflect my ideals and character, and I’m hoping to be able to take the next step in understanding my beliefs in the coming films.
Who would you credit as having the greatest influence on you and in what you do?
It’s got to be my family. There’s a rich history and cultural shifts within both families where I want to explore. I wanted to investigate the intricacies of culture and identity that have been present throughout my upbringing. But also, I want to make my mum proud. She comes from a family where a lot of her relatives are succeeding in their careers, academics, and social contributions.
Who would be the most enjoyable person/s you have worked with and why?
Of course, I’ve got to give it to my composers Max Villela and Akira Cairnes—crazy musicians and producers. Max has been making my film’s music since year 11 and hasn’t stopped. Have also enjoyed working with Tavis Pinnington, a Melbourne-based cinematographer. He really challenged me as a director and I’m in love with his process.
Also got to give love to Evie Parks and Claire Guiffre, both filmmakers. Their support is what keeps me going honestly, and their talents are extraordinary.
Any current projects you are working on?
I’m working on a collection of films called ‘a lost child’s wonderings’ – a curated assembly of pieces that reflect my childhood ideologies. I just wrapped my first feature film ‘Anak’, and it was really the best experience for me as a filmmaker. But I have a couple more shorts for the year to direct. I’m working with some screenwriter friends and their ideas have been inspiring me lately.
The last film of the year is based on Asian Food Walk tours, written by the genius Gina Song. We want to tackle the Asian diaspora and our place within the western world. I’m excited to explore Asian-Australian ethnography which extends from my Filipino roots! I’m also developing the feature screenplay of ‘FILO-BOY’ as a part of Film Victoria’s Originate program. It’s been good fun so far.
What else would you want to accomplish?
For the meantime I just want to make films for myself and my craft, but when I’m ready I want to start writing and directing bigger and funded projects. It’s going to take me years, but it’s the dream, like everyone else. I’ll still be making a film either way.
Caleb’s film FILO-BOY will be screened online on the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) play. MIFF will be hosting the VCA annual graduation showcase in September. Follow Caleb on Instagram: @svtycl.
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