Iana Bernardez may have starred in the 2018 indie flick, Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus, and played a key role in LSS, the music-centric entry to the recently concluded Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), but she will always have film production as her priority.
The 26-year-old daughter of actress Angel Aquino started her career in film production in 2017 as an associate producer in various projects before joining Epicmedia Productions the following year.
In 2018, Iana co-produced two movies: Ma, the horror directorial debut of Kenneth Dagatan, and Oda sa Wala, the third feature of Dwein Baltazar that won Best Film at the 2018 QCinema International Film Festival.
Now, Iana is embarking on a solo producing role in another Epicmedia project, Babae at Baril, which is an entry to the 2019 edition of the annual QCinema.
At the launch of QCinema 2019 last September 24, the movie producer told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that the Rae Red-directed Babae at Baril tackles “being feminine in a world of violence and masculinity” in three parts.
Iana added that the narrative starts with the story of Babae and flows into the story of Baril until their paths meet. Babae is played by Janine Gutierrez, while Baril changes form, beginning from Archie Adamos’s character and ending with Sky Teotico’s character.
Babae at Baril is one of the three recipients of production grants amounting to P1.5 million each from QCinema. It will compete, along with Glenn Barit’s The Cleaners and Arnel Barbarona’s Kaaway sa Sulod, against entries from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, and China.
QCinema 2019 runs from October 13 to 22 at Gateway Mall, Ayala Trinoma, Robinsons Galleria, UPFI Cine Adarna, Cinema ’76 Anonas, and Cinema Centenario in Quezon City.
Iana’s involvement as producer of Babae at Baril included the casting of actors, and she’s thankful that Janine Gutierrez’s home network, GMA-7, and talent management agency both agreed for the actress to accept the offer to play the lead role.
She added that Janine has been impressive in her past works, particularly the finely crafted romance film Elise, which was released in early 2019.
“She’s not someone you’ll expect to be cast here, especially na ang ganda-ganda niyang tao,” the movie producer said of the lead star. “Ang iniisip nga namin, ‘Paano natin siya pagmumukhaing normal?’
“In fairness to her, she went through a workshop, and then no’ng look test, talagang we saw her being able to adopt and study to be a chameleon, and becoming anyone you’d encounter on the street.
"May mystery kasi kay Janine, e. Ang ganda ng mata ni Janine. Her eyebrows are so expressive. But she maintains relatable to a lot of Filipinas.”
As for her own acting career, Iana said she’s not closing her doors to offers, though she’s not actively looking for them.
“To be honest, I enjoy producing more, so that’s what I practice more,” she pointed out.
“Acting is not something that I seek for it, but when given the opportunities na nakita ng direktor, ng producer, and they’re happy with my work, do’n lang ako nagkaka-project.”
“I’m not a very confident actor,” she admitted. “You know, I never studied it. I don’t practice it so much. Parang, acting? Ay, produce na lang po!
“But, then so far, eto ngang LSS. I had a Cignal project recently, but I don’t know when it’s going to be shown. Nakakatuwa siya.
"Na-realize ko na gusto ko siyang matutunan at gagalingan ko, and someday, gusto kong gumaling na actor. It’s something that I can love. It’s something siguro na I got from my mom.”
Iana went on sharing what her mother Angel Aquino constantly tells her: “You have to give time to acting if you want to learn.”
Iana and Thea are using their father’s surname, Bernardez.
Just like Angel, who’s a mainstay in the long-running action-drama series, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, her daughter would like to experience working in a teleserye.
Iana recalled that her mom Angel encouraged her and her younger sister Thea to watching movies in general and not just Angel’s projects.
"I’ll always wonder, when the end credits are rolling,” she said, referring to the opening billboard (OBB) and closing billboard (CBB). “Sino ’yong producer? Ano ang ginagawa ng producer? I’ve always been fascinated how things are put together—an action film, a horror film, a drama film.
“Naa-amaze ako before pa’no nila ginagawa ’yon. So sabi nila, ‘’Yong producer ganyan.’ Sabi ko, ‘Ano ang difference sa EP [executive producer], sa LP [line producer]?’ And then, along the way lang, nafi-figure out mo siya.
“I’m happy I wanted to be a producer before, and I’m producing now. Dream-come-true siya, to be honest.
“But my mom talaga, of course, acting sana. She would push me to be an actor kasi she believes in me also na, ‘Kaya mo ’yan, Yana.’”
But growing up, Iana remembered not feeling the “pressure from mom to be an actor because she always encouraged us to finish our studies first” and “figure out ko muna ano ba talaga ang gusto kong maging.”
Iana then took up BS Psychology at the Ateneo because “I knew it’s a flexible course, and I’ve always been interested in what’s happening naman talaga in a person’s head.”
After earning her degree, she went into events production and eventually followed her path to film production, training under established producers like Sarah Pagcaliwagan and Bianca Balbuena, the co-founder and CEO of Epicmedia.