Direktor muli ng isang indie film si Joaquin Valdes, dating host ng morning TV show na Breakfast ng Studio 23, at lumipat sa GMA 7 upang maging co-host naman ni Miriam Quiambao sa documentary-magazine show na 100% Pinoy.
In 2008, nag-direk si Joaquin ng 30-minute sci-fi film titled Bulong. Nanalo ito ng Golden Duck award for Best Short Narrative sa 2nd New Beijing International Movie Week at naimbitahan sa 61st Cannes International Film Festival para sa non-competition Short Film Corner.
Ngayong 2010, pasok ang horror film niyang Dagim sa 6th Cinema One Originals ng Creative Programs Inc. (CPI), isang entertainment subsidiary ng ABS-CBN. Gaganapin ang indie film festival na ito sa November 10-16, 2010 sa Shangrila Mall Cinemas sa Mandaluyong City.
Nasa cast ng Dagim sina Martin del Rosario (young actor mula sa ABS-CBN), Manuel Chua (of Pinoy Fear Factor), Kjwan vocalist Marc Abaya, Cholo Barretto (pinsan ni Claudine Barretto), Alchris Galura, Jojit Lorenzo, Rita Iringan (14-year old girl of Sugar Pop fame), at ang 12-year-old boy na si Samuel Quintana.
Kasama rin sa cast sina Paolo Rodriguez, Nicco Manalo, Jerald Napoles, Miguel Vasquez, Jun Quintana, Chrome Cosio, at Francis Franzuela. May special participation rin si Luis Alandy at mga beteranong aktor tulad nina Bembol Roco at Daniel Fernando. Ganun din sina Chase Vega, Olive Nieto, at Angelina Kanapi.
Ayon kay Direk Joaquin sa panayam ng PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sa pamamagitan ng e-mail, katuparan ng kanyang pangarap upang maging isang film director ang tiwalang ipinagkaloob sa kanya ng Cinema One Originals, bukod pa sa pagmamalaki niya sa kanyang cast.
"Ako na siguro ang pinakasuwerteng direktor para mapagsama-sama ang isang dream cast ng young actors," simula ni Direk Joaquin. "Dagim takes pride in its young, brave and extremely talented actors. Karamihan sa kanila, may maliit lang o wala pa talagang experience sa mundo ng pelikula.
"Gustung-gusto kong makatrabaho ang mga bata at bagong actors. Nakikita niyo na sila sa TV, kahit na hindi niyo ma-identify ang kanilang mga pangalan. They brought to Dagim an idealism to the craft untainted by the repetitive cynicism that the industry has a tendency to bring.
"It's my honest opinion that the cast we've assembled here are potentially the most important actors of this generation. Kabataan ang pinakalaman ng puso ko. That's why I make my films. Boses ng henerasyon ko."
Paano ba nagsimula ang script niyang Dagim?
"The genesis of Dagim came back when I was finishing my first short feature, Bulong. Nag-iisip na ako noong gumawa ng first full feature ko. Na-challenge ako na gumawa ng isang 'horror' genre film, because I wanted to comment on it, I wanted to deconstruct it, tulad ng ginawa ko sa Bulong.
"I explored the idea with some friends of mine, going along the lines of giving the monsters, the aswangs that we know from our folklore, I wanted to give them a perspective, a voice.
"Sinimulan kong isulat ang istorya. After ko mag-research, I'd started to fall in love with it. With this story, I was creating a speculative world, challenging the speculative fiction format while making it a metaphor for the Philippine situation. So, I took that screenplay, which has since changed drastically, and submitted it to Cinema One."
SYNOPSIS. Naka-set noong early '90s ang Dagim. Ito ay kuwento ng magkapatid na sina Jun (Martin del Rosario) at Diego (Samuel Quintana), na may nawawalang ama. Nang walang magawa ang pulisya ng kanilang bayan upang hanapin ang nawawala nilang tatay, ang magkapatid na mismo ang naghanap.
Sa kanilang pakikipagsapalaran upang hanapin ang ama, makakarating sila sa bulubunduking bayan ng Hukayan, kunsaan nila makikilala si Lila (Rita Iringan), isang magandang dalaga. Dahil delikado ang lugar sa mga brutal at malupit na militar na umiikot doon, ihahatid siya ng magkapatid sa tahanan nito, na nasa liblib na kagubatan ng Panimdim.
Dito nila makikilala ang kapatid ni Lila, si Pido (Marc Abaya), pinuno ng kanilang tribo. Mabait at maasikaso si Pido. Tuturuan nito sina Jun at Diego ng simpleng pamumuhay ng isang tribo, na para na silang magkakapatid at pantay-pantay sa lahat ng bagay—ibang-iba sa korapsiyon at pagkaganid na nakagisnang kultura ng magkapatid sa siyudad.
Hanggang sa unti-unting mahuhumaling si Jun na permanente nang tumira sa Panimdim. Hindi nito mapapansing ang "tahimik na buhay" ng nasabing tribo ay may itinatagong isang kahindik-hindik na lihim. At nang ito'y malaman ni Jun, huli na ang lahat dahil inaayos na ni Pido ang pagsapi ng bagong miyembro ng tribo: ang utol niyang si Diego.
Bakit isang horror film ang naisip niyang gawing screenplay at maging unang full length film niya?
"Puwedeng i-classify ang pelikula na 'horror,' but I didn't want to just do a horror flick for the sake of it, but to really challenge the medium and explore the genre, deconstruct it, even!
"Kung tutuusin, ang neighboring countries ng Pilipinas ay successful sa horror genre, like ghost stories from Japan and Korea. Pero growing up in the Philippines, for me, it was never the ghost stories that were scary, it was always the folklore.
"It was the aswang stories, the manananggal stories, the enkantada stories. Those are the stories that worked, and, even now, some people believe in those things. So I did my research dahil gusto kong i-deconstruct 'yon, at ikuwento 'yun paraang gusto ko."
Kumusta naman ang experience niya working with his actors?
"Pinakamahirap na task ay ang paghanap ng young actors to play brothers. I was very particular in casting unknowns [at the risk of commercial value]. Mas gusto ko ang walang pangalan na seryoso sa craft ng acting, kesa sa may endorsements pero walang passion.
"Diretso ako sa auditions ko na naghahanap ako ng kids na walang bad habits, na pang soap-opera ang performance."
FIGHTING CORRUPTION. Anong pinakamensahe ng Dagim sa moviegoers?
"Dagim is a satire of a generation orphaned by false promises, false hope and the anticipation of a leadership and a better life that may never come. My generation has witnessed countless transitions, in culture, government, national identity and global positioning.
"This year, as we face another new icon who promised us to trust him and his democratic battle cry as he leads us to a widespread fight against corruption, we are left disappointed.
"The two boys [in the film] who witness the morbidity amidst a world that is filled with fear, doubt and anger, is exactly what our children are witnessing. We have lost all trust in our institutions, in our government, in our military; who do we turn to?
"It's a rebel yell, a generational cry of anger and frustration. How the conditions are created around us forcing us to live like animals, competing, killing and consuming one another. Dog eat dog. Man eat man.
"At the end of the day. We, the children, are the victims. But, sadly, we continue to pine," paliwanag ni Direk Joaquin.
ON MARTIN DEL ROSARIO. Ayon pa rink ay Direk Joaquin, ang first revelation niya ay si Martin del Rosario, isang 17-year old freshman ng U.P.na nakalabas na sa ilang Maalaala Mo Kaya episodes, among other teleseryes ng ABS-CBN.
"Hindi big star si Martin para makakuha ng lead roles o mai-pair for a love team. He's one of the good looking faces you see among the smorgasbord talents of Star Magic, but they never really remember him, which is a shame, dahil, talent-wise, hindi siya dapat na makalimutan.
"Dumating sa audition si Martin with no expectations, but a lot of heart. I gave him some direction, but deliberately left gaps to see how he would fill them in and also to test his ability to think on his feet. Nagawa niya ang eksena, and I got that familiar feeling on the back of my neck.
"Bukod sa camera-friendly ang looks niya, nandoon yung intensity niya and his ability to speak volumes without saying a word that I was drawn to. He thinks, he dives and he becomes. Para sa akin, Martin is one of the most important young actors to date. And I know that after Dagim, malalaman ng tao kung bakit," pahayag ni Direk Joaquin.
"The wonder that is Sam Quintana" ang description ni Direk Joaquin sa dose-anyos na patpating batang lalaki na kapatid ni Martin sa istorya na gagawing kasamahan sa tribo.
"Dahil mahiyain at tahimik, hindi ko inisip na may ipapakita si Sam sa aking kakaiba. Pero nung nag-audition na siya ng isang impromptu scene, in an instant, I knew we have found our Diego!"
Kumusta naman ang iba pang nasa cast?
"Marc Abaya came as a wonderful surprise. Originally, may ibang role sana ako for him. Nai-direk ko ang isang music video ng banda niya. I knew from that experience that he had an artist's heart, able to pull off the double act of being intelligent and grounded at the same time.
"Being a literal cinematic offspring of two big names in the film world, he knows his stuff. I knew I wanted him in this film because he carried the same drive that I had in writing it.
"Nilinaw ko sa cast na hindi nila dapat gawin ito as a favor para sa akin or para sa sinasabi nilang dying movie industry, pero gagawin nila ito dahil naniniwala sila sa istorya.
"Jojit Lorenzo, Cholo Barretto, Migs Vasquez, and Alchris Galura were the audacious few who jumped in. Si Manuel Chua, he exuded a quiet and brewing confidence that isn't abrasive but remained potent. Jun Quintana broods with mystery and remains a youthful disposition.
"Pinaka-fresh si Francis Franzuela, 18 years old from CSB [College of St. Benilde], may charm and presence siya. Si Rita Iringan ay hindi nag-audition as a child star o singer, pero bilang isang 'dangerously sensual tweener'.
DIRECTOR'S PROFILE. Joaquin (a.k.a. Pedro) Valdes finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Audio Visual Communication from the University of the Philippines. Being mentored and groomed by renowned directors and cinematographers, Joaquin Pedro Valdes put on his directors hat as exemplified by his short film Bulong (Whisper).
According to Direk Joaquin, this short film shows influences as diverse as Woody Allen and David Fincher. He loves the audacious images of Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham.
Bulong was not only cited as the best Thesis Film during the University of the Philippines centennial year, it also garnered praise from the Short Film Corner of Cannes, France; Sapporo, Japan and won the top prize for the Short Narrative category in Beijing, China.
Among the awards that Bulong got were Feliciano Award mula sa University of the Philippines (College of Mass Communication) in 2008, and the Ani Ng Dangal Award mula sa National Commission for Culture and the Arts last 2009.
Joaquin is a self-confessed Viral Marketing addict and has committed a lot of his time to studying the science and language of this infant medium. He is currently in the roster of directors of renowned production outfit PROVILL, focusing on television commercials, and creative advertising.
As TV commercial director, he did Viral PLDT at Viral Jam 88.3 (2009) and Comelec, Alaxan, at Metrobank (2010).
Sa gitna ng paghihirap mag-shooting ng ilang araw sa Bataan, ayon pa rin kay Direk Joaquin, hinarap ng kanyang grupo ang hamon sa paggawa ng isang pelikula.
"Na-test ang mga relasyon ng bawat isa, na-challenge ang friendship, pati ego. Pero ngayon lang nangyari sa career ko na makita ang ganoong katinding passion sa bawa't isa sa set.
"Life-changing experience ito for me. Nakita ko na lang ang sarili ko na naiiyak tuwing gabi pagkatapos ng shooting. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos para sa mga taong ibinigay Niya sa akin for this film.
"My staff and crew weren't doing this as a favor to me or to the greater good that is Philippine Art. They did it because they felt they owned this film. This is probably the best and most humbling realization any writer-director-producer can have.
"The joy and satisfaction of seeing your staff and crew love it like it was their own work of art, that's priceless and incomparable."
PRODUCTION CREW. Ang production staff ng Dagim:
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Takeyuki Onishi
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Joshua Deocareza
LINE PRODUCER: May Francisco
PRODUCTION MANAGERS: Jerson Guiwa, Maria Theresa, Raymond Adora, Tanya Guarino
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Leeroy New
2ND UNIT DIRECTOR: Aiza Jane Idanan
SOUND DESIGNER: Mark Laccay
SOUND SUPERVISOR: James Tabin
EDITOR: Carlo Manatad
TALENT COORDINATOR: Jefferson Cabral
MAKE UP/ PROSTHETICS: Precious Medina
SENIOR ART DIRECTOR: Mikey Red
ART DIRECTOR: Veronica San Antonio
SCRIPT CONTINUITY: Eileen Remoroza
MAKE UP ARTIST: Kate Hernandez
WARDROBE: Eems Naldoza