Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Changing the Reel: Budding Director Gino M. Santos Ushers in a Generation of Film with New Flick “Island Dreams”

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The action behind the camera has become one of the most intriguing contemporary art forms in the country. Despite being the youngest of Philippine creative styles, film making has succeeded in immortalizing the rich culture and character of the Filipino people through the silver screen.

Even with the challenges that face the industry such as the growth of illegal camcording and movie piracy, filmmaking continues to captivate and engage many young talents. One such passionate artist is Gino M. Santos, who, at the age of 24, has made waves in the local film scene.

Gino is a two-time Gawad CCP honorable mention awardee with his experimental short “Bangungot” and his short movie musical "Ang Tangke" (The Water Tank), the latter of which vied in the 19th Contravision Film Festival in Berlin. With award-winning director Brillante Mendoza as his mentor, Gino continues to hone his craft with the best from the trade and raise the standards for local filmmaking.

In 2011, the rising filmmaker became the only Filipino student-delegate among 12 other representatives from Southeast Asia to participate in the Motion Picture Association (MPA) China International Copyright Expo (CICE) Film Workshop held in Beijing, China. Gino was handpicked by OctoArts Films owner and Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association (PMPPA) president Orly Ilacad to represent the country at the 3-day event.

“The workshop was definitely one of the most exciting and challenging experiences in my career. It was interesting to see how different the Filipino thought process is from foreign filmmakers. But meeting like-minded individuals who have their own unique approach to film inspired me to be more creative in my craft and bring something new to the Philippine movie industry,” said Santos.

He further revealed that with a highly saturated local market, the courses offered in the workshop on the fundamentals of film marketing offered an invaluable edge in packaging a movie and understanding the audience. The workshop also provided an in depth discussion with renowned international and Chinese speakers on screenwriting, 3D film production, play selection, and other relevant topics.

After graduating from De la Salle – College of Saint Benilde, as well as participated in various film workshops, including the esteemed New York Film Academy in Japan, Gino set out to produce and direct his first full-length film “The Animals” with which he received several nominations. The Cinemalaya 2013 Film Festival winning entry for Best Editing shares the tale of troubled upper-class Filipino teenagers in an affluent Manila neighborhood who discover the truths and distractions of youth. According to statement from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), it was one of the first films to be rated R-16 in the Philippines.

A few months after his debut film’s success, Gino combines culture and romance with his 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) New Wave Category entry, “Island Dreams”. Written and co-directed by multi-awarded Filipino filmmaker Aloy Adlawan and shot by acclaimed cinematographer Carlo Mendoza, the movie tells the story of an underprivileged Filipina and an American vacationer who meet in True Love’s Peak, a secluded place in a remote island with a myth that brings true love. The movie cast includes teen actress Louise delos Reyes, newcomer Alexis Petitprez, and television and theater star Irma Adlawan.

A far cry from the fast-paced treatment and youth-oriented subjects normally found in Gino’s short and full-length films, “Island Dreams” is drawn from the natural Filipino spirit of industriousness and also drives the common picture of cultural interaction between locals and foreigners.

“Island Dreams truly shows another side of my craft. I have consistently played with the youth element in my previous work but this movie engages a theme that not only tackles romance and comedy but also about the Filipino way of life, which I believe puts across a strong message to embrace our very own,” said Santos.

The up and coming director remarked that formula-driven movies in the Philippines are not very different from what the community identifies as independent films. It is with this belief that he strongly expressed the value of all movies and support for actions against piracy. “May it be a big budget or a low budget movie, there is absolutely a great amount of time and hard work poured into producing every scene. Piracy exploits the creativity and efforts that we filmmakers take great pride in. I envision a local film industry that no longer fears piracy and freely extends creativity to entertain and inspire Filipino viewers. I encourage moviegoers to take even the simplest of steps to help eliminate movie theft,” said Santos.

“Island Dreams” premiers on December 18 to 24, 2013 in select Metro Manila cinemas.

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