Budding director Gino M. Santos’ Island Dreams—his second film—is a testimony that the young filmmaker has the makings of a promising director in the independent film industry.
The said movie was awarded the Most Gender Sensitive trophy at the Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave Category last December 2013.
Asked about the significance of the award, the 24-year-old director quipped, “'Di ko nga alam kung ano ang award, parang nagulat na lang kami.”
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of the entertainment media had the chance to interview Gino and the cast members of Island Dreams during the July 10 press conference at Max’s Restaurant, Scout Tobias, Quezon City.
Kidding aside, Direk Gino said his movie won because its main character, Julie (played by Louise delos Reyes), imparts a powerful message about women empowerment. It challenges the preconceived notion in society that men are the dominant sex.
Island Dreams is slated to have a rerun in selected cinemas starting July 23.
Gino elaborates, “It’s about Julie, it’s about her being probinsiyana, and one thing more, she wants to be a singer, she does works of art. But to get where she is, she tries to be a tourist guide. Yung aiming high, no matter what.”
“Louise, she played an independent modern Filipina, very strong. I think that’s why they picked us as Most Gender Sensitive.”
How does he feel about getting a significant award for his second film?
“Like what I said, unexpected talaga yung award. Just getting inside the MMFF New Wave Category, sobrang nagulat kami, sobrang everwhelmed na kami, tapos to get an award was parang bonus na.
“Getting this project alone, parang nakakagulat na rin na somebody entrusted me with a project already, after my first film pa lang.
“I feel blessed na okay yung pagdadaanan ng filmmaking career ko. I learn along the way as well. The learning experience ang pinaka-important for me,” he adds.
Gino’s directorial debut was the 2012 Cinemalaya entry The Animals, starring Albie Casiño, which received fairly positive reviews.
The film tackled the modern troubles of the youth and gave a realistic portrayal of the new generation.
REALISTIC APPROACH. Gino explained that he did Island Dreams with a “realistic” approach, despite it being a romantic-comedy or rom-com.
Together with Direk Aloy Adlawan, Gino said that they intended the movie to be “balanced” compared with mainstream rom-coms.
“Kami ni Aloy, fresh out kami sa Cinemalaya box, parang ang isip mo pa rin indie.
“What we wanted to do is to balance indie and mainstream. The technical, the quality would be leveling up with the Hollywood films, tapos the story naman parang indie pa rin siya na hindi. Parang pwede pa rin siyang pang mainstream,” Gino explains.
The young director has big dreams for the movie, like submitting it to international film festivals, not just because he is proud of the script, but also because it showcases the beauty of the Philippines.
“Pag pinanood ito ng mga foreigners, ‘Wow, we wanna go there!’ It’s just Batangas [that we showed], it’s not even Palawan yet.”
BODY OF WORK. PEP asked Direk Gino: what mark does he wants to leave in the film industry?
“Pini-peg ako as doing youth films, which I don’t mind because I’m still in my 20s and I’d like to grow up with my films,” he muses.
He directed The Animals when he was just 22.
He just finished his third film, the 2014 Cinemalaya entry #Y, which depicts millenials (the youth today) who are dealing with sex, internet, drugs, alcohol, and drugs.
Gino believes that he has the advantage of lending credibility to the movie since he belongs to the same generation his movie tackles.
“Kailangan maka-relate ka, kailangan maka-relate ka sa character at sa situation kasi baka maging fake.
“That’s what I’m trying to avoid, being fake,” he emphasizes.
#Y (read: Hashtag Y) stars Elmo Magalona, Slater Young, Chynna Ortaleza, Sophie Albert, Coleen Garcia, and Kit Thompson.
On television, Gino serves as the second-unit director of the TV5 mini-series Jasmine. He considers this TV project as a great experience for him.
He is also the director of GMA-7's late-night talk show, The Tim Yap Show.
During the interview, Gino happily revealed that he would be shooting his first ever TV commercial the very next day.
Getting these projects left and right in his chosen field, Direk Gino beams that this will only make him a better director.
“I wanna experience everything before I can say na, ‘O dito lang ako.’ So that’s why I’m verturing out in indie, maindie [term for mainstream and indie], before I can make my mark here in the industry.”
GINO’S BACKGROUND. Gino said that he started in his career young, at 14, and has undergone workshops under the late director Marilou Diaz-Abaya
He graduated from De La Salle University-College of Saint Benilde in Filmography. He also attended film schools such as the Asia Pacific Film Institute, Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts, and New York Film Academy in Tokyo, Japan.