Malaki ang naitulong ng directorial film debut ni Paul Soriano na A Journey Home para lubos niyang ma-appreciate ang sining ng pelikula.
Mas nakilala kasi si Paul bilang direktor ng television commercials kaya malaking hamon para sa kanya ang gumawa ng proyekto na ang tanging inilalako sa mga manonood ay purong istorya at hindi produkto.
Bagamat hindi tinalikuran ni Paul ang mundo ng advertising matapos maipalabas ang kanyang first film venture noong nakaraang taon, hindi rin naman nawala sa kanyang isip ang posibilidad na muling gumawa ng pelikula provided na may magandang ideya na dumating.
"After A Journey Home, that was my first film, I fell in love with the whole idea of movie making. We all know that the past four years I've been directing commercials... Pero last year when I was given an opportunity to make a film, I fell in love with the way movies are made.
"So I told myself parang kailangan kong gumawa ng one more film. I had some ideas from studying film and I always wanted to do a sports film—dream ko 'yan because I'm a huge fan of Chariots of Fire, Children of Heaven, and Million Dollar Baby," kuwento ni Paul nang makaharap ang PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) at iba pang entertainment reporters noong Huwebes, November 4, sa Dulcinea Restaurant sa Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
Dagdag pa ni Paul: "Sports films can be very inspiring, it's almost like a metaphor of life. A lot of people can learn not just how the sport is, but life values as well."
SHAPING THELMA. Track and field ang sport na naging inspirasyon ni Paul sa kanyang bagong independent project na tinawag niyang Thelma.
"Ang running kasi centered sa isang tao as compared to let's say basketball o football. This movie kasi is about one person's journey to run for her dreams. Of course, I also love to run and I think also perfect timing din kasi parang every Saturday and Sunday may fun run or marathon," paliwanag ni Paul sa PEP.
Upang lubos na maging pamilyar sa kanyang napiling paksa ay nag-research at pinag-aralang mabuti ni Paul ang nasabing sport. Kasama sa kanyang preparasyon ang pakikipag-usap sa mga track and field athletes at mga coaches. Personal din siyang dumadalo sa mga training sessions kahit pa karaniwan itong ginagawa ng madaling araw.
Malaki ang papel na gagampanan ng Olympic track and field medalist na si Elma Muros-Posadas sa pelikula. Bukod sa aarte siya bilang coach ng lead star na si Maja Salvador ay pinakiusapan din siya ni Paul na magsilbing mentor maging sa production team para maintindihan nila ang sport.
"I interviewed Elma and we had meetings about the life of athletes and she shared a lot of her stories. We went to even as far as talking to Philippine Women's Teams here... I even ran with the FEU [Far Eastern University] Team at 4:30 in the morning just to kinda feel the life of an athlete," paliwanag ni Paul.
"After all that research, we decided to write the story, write the script, and that's why we are here today. Thelma, I would say, is inspired by true stories of athletes. I don't want to say it's just Elma's story, but definitely you'll see some parts of her story there on the big screen.
"There are also stories about other athletes that we've interviewed. So, it's a movie inspired by true events and true stories and I really feel that this kind of film can give a positive and uplifting experience when you watch it."
Lilipad ngayong linggo papuntang Ilocos Norte ang cast at production crew ng Thelma para simulan ang shooting ng pelikula.
"We should be done before Christmas and we're hoping for a March-April 2011 playdate," banggit ni Paul.
WEDDING BELLS WITH TONI. Sa simula pa lang ay si Maja Salvador na talaga ang first choice ni Paul para gampanan ang lead role ng pelikula. Hindi daw niya naisip na alukin ang pelikula sa kasintahan na si Toni Gonzaga sa dahilang nakatrabaho na nila ang isa't isa sa A Journey Home.
"Actually ang sport ni Toni is swimming talaga. Pero I know sa village niya kung may time siya, nagtu-twenty-minute run siya around the village just to parang workout. But right now, all she does is run to work," biro ng mestisong direktor.
"She wasn't part of my choices, hindi bagay. Well, in the first movie, actually 'yan, she was part of it. Of course we had that experience na and even her, she won't accept a project from me, if you ask her."
Aminado si Paul na madalang sila makapag-date ni Toni lately dahil pareho silang abala sa trabaho. Between the two ay masasabing mas hectic ang schedule ni Toni dahil bukod sa primetime series na Kokey @ Ako ay napapanood din ang aktres sa ASAP XV at The Buzz. Kasalukuyang busy rin si Toni sa upcoming movie niya under Star Cinema together with John Lloyd Cruz.
"Honestly, the last two months ever since she started her movie and Kokey, Sunday nights ang day namin. Pagtapos ng The Buzz, usually I pick her up sa ABS [CBN], dinner tayo, minsan kasama pamilya niya, minsan kasama pamilya ko, then nag-i-evening service sa church and then 'yon, I take her home. Sometimes we watch TV sa bahay niya, kuwento-kuwento with Alex [Toni's sister]—that's our Sunday nights."
Three and a half years ng magkasintahan ang dalawa at very open naman si Paul sa pagsasabi na nakikita niya ang posibilidad na si Toni na nga ang kanyang makakatuluyan.
"If you ask me, I'm gonna be 31 next year, probably two to three years sana. Hopefully it works out. I want to be a young father—I love kids, e. But at this point, she's doing so well in her career and I don't wanna take her out of it.
"Actually, we admire Juday [Judy Ann Santos] with how she handled everything. All in the right timing, when it came to family, like now she's married and has a child."
Naiintindihan naman ni Paul kung hindi pa naiisip ni Toni ang lumagay sa tahimik sa ngayon dahil nga maganda ang takbo ng kanyang showbiz career.
"I respect that," seryosong sambit ni Paul patungkol sa kagustuhan ng kasintahan. "Because she worked so hard to get where she is right now."