With “Siargao” doing well in the just-concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, more people are interested in visiting the movie’s namesake to see for real how beautiful it is.
Paul Soriano, director of the film, said this is well and good but he reminds them to “take care of Siargao” while there.
“In a way successful kami because the movie was able to highlight the beauty of the island of Siargao and hopefully this year, maraming bumisita sa lugar,” he said. “However, we understand people will visit and enjoy the island but we are also hoping na they would respect the island, na they would take care of the place. Let’s take care of its beauty and charm.”
Siargao is special to Paul as he is in love with the place; so much that he even has a resort there.
No wonder that in his movie, Siargao is not just a place, but like one of the characters of the story being told. Paul said the movie is raw, organic; “chill” is the best word to use, he said. The story has less conflict and less action, more relaxed than the usual mainstream movies because that’s the vibe of surfing, which the island is known for.
“When we were conceptualizing the film, I told my writer, ‘How do we bring a story that best represents Siargao?’” he said. “So I use surfing as a metaphor because that’s how the life of the character is. It’s like we patiently wait for the right wave, we catch it, we stand, we ride, we crash, then we surface and try again.”
Since there are no theaters in Siargao, many of its residents have not seen the movie. But here’s good news: “Siargao” will have a town-to-town screening next week, said the director.
And it’s free. Whoopee.
“Siargao” will soon ride waves abroad.
This is what Paul said when asked about plans for the award-winning film. Why, they’ve already gotten invites from different international festivals.
“Maraming clamor for it internationally and we’re planning it all now. Though may mga invites na, I have to wait for the festivals to make announcement before I can confirm,” he said.
The director thanked those who watched the film and appreciated its message. He acknowledged the help of social media in promoting the film.
“We didn’t do too much TV commercials eh. Everything was social media based so we have a great social media manager and team that was really posting every day, replying to questions and posting good reviews.”
Paul is aware the film also got “so-so reviews,” but it’s okay. He believes he cannot please everybody and he takes criticisms as a tool for improvement.
“In every film naman, you cannot please everybody, even the greatest filmmakers din,” he said. “I take the negative reviews as a constructive criticism. There are some points where I can learn and be a better filmmaker. With the positive reviews naman, it really inspires me kasi nakuha nila ’yung message ko.”
All in all, it’s a great time for Philippine cinema, he said.
“Siargao” marks the third Best Director award for Paul. He describes his career “very blessed.”
Paul, who had been rejected twice in joining the MMFF previously, said he is still on cloud nine over his win. Being an independent filmmaker, as he called himself, Paul is overwhelmed by the idea of telling story for a bigger audience.
“Kaya ko pala,” he said. “Mga past films ko, hindi masyadong malaki but with ‘Siargao…’ it did well so it just shows na kaya ko pala. I can tell stories for bigger audience din pala so I’m really inspired now.”
As early as now, Paul and his company, Ten17P, are already conceptualizing their next projects.
“Maraming scripts na that we’re developing definitely. We are working on some projects and hopefully I can start shooting this year,” he said.
But he feels the need to be careful as “coming from the success of ‘Siargao,’ we want to make sure that my next film would follow this momentum.”
How about collaborating with wife Toni Gonzaga, a writer suggested.
“I think definitely!” his excited reply. “I would love to collaborate with an award-winning actress but in terms of directing her, maybe she’ll direct me. (laughs) I think that’s the case eh but I’d really love to produce a film for her.”
The 36-year-old director wants to do a comedy film down the road – or maybe more love stories that will inspire many people.
Here’s the thing: Paul is already conceptualizing a story for MMFF 2018.
“Definitely we will join MMFF again. It’s not necessary na ako ang director but Ten17P will surely submit an entry again. So let’s see,” he said.
Asked to describe his directing style, Paul said he focuses on visuals than on words.
“I try my best to marry story with visual. I would love to show rather than say. It’s, like, instead of saying ‘No, I don’t love you’ I would show it na lang through emotions.”
It may be too late for this now but Paul is not after the awards.
“I just always want to do something good. When I make film, I don’t think of anything else but to tell a story. ’Yun lang. I don’t go to set na mag-shoot tayo para sa award. Gusto ko lang mag-kwento.”
The director loves working with the “Siargao” cast, particularly Erich Gonzales, Jericho Rosales and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
It’s the second time Paul worked with Jasmine and he deems the 2017 MMFF Best Supporting Actress his “good luck charm.”
“I really love working with Jasmine. Our first film together, which is ‘Transit’ very successful din ’yun. Humakot din ’yun ng award sa Cinemalaya,” he divulged. “Two for two kami eh, sabi ko nga sa next project natin, mag-best actress ka na at ita-try ko talaga ’yan. Si Jasmine kasi, she takes her craft very seriously and she’s a great actress and it shows naman talaga.”
As for Jericho, Paul said “he is the best actor for me.”
“He’s still riding a wave now. He gave a portrayal that was seamless as in super natural lang siya… parang walang camera when we are shooting. Jericho is a big part of this success,” he said. “He is one of the greatest actors of his generation and the best part is, he wants to work with me again. That means we did something good. So I’m very honored, I’m very blessed.”