Mentoring future filmmakers
Film and TV director Dante Nico Garcia, who teaches filmmaking to out-of-school youths in his hometown in Cuyo, Palawan, hopes to raise P10 million to build a production facility for them.
The “Ploning” director has been busy with this mentoring project for over a year now, under his “I Can Toil” program.
“Toil means Truthful and Objective Imitation of Life,” Garcia told the Inquirer of the program that he designed. “I didn’t study filmmaking so I don’t consider myself a filmmaker. What I am is a storyteller. In ‘Ploning,’ I simply told my story.”
“Ploning,” a romantic family drama starring his close friend, actress Judy Ann Santos, was released in 2008.
“I Can Toil” is sponsored by the Champion Youth Philippines (CYP) under the Palawan-based Life Church Organization, with the Lyrics and Sheets Foundation that Garcia earlier cocreated with Santos.
Garcia said CYP first asked him to conduct a two-week program in August 2010, but that he declined.
“They told me to simply tell the kids how to make films,” said Garcia, who directs TV5’s “Iskul Bukol” and “Star Confessions.” “My contention is, if you just tell them how you do it, they may think it’s very easy. But if you give them the chance to make films themselves, they’d understand better, and not end up being mere critics of what other filmmakers do. So I said, ‘Give me two years with them.’”
In the first year of the two-year course, students are lectured on preproduction before participating in the actual shooting of a film. The second year teaches postproduction. And they, the students, get to produce their own film.
“The premiere night of that film will be their graduation day,” Garcia said. “I need funds to maintain this course. The facility we intend to put up for the kids will need editing machines and sound equipment.”
Garcia said his next film, “Madaling Araw, Mahabang Gabi,” will also help fund this project. The film is based on a Palawan tradition held during All Saint’s Day, or November 1, when people are allowed to steal crops from other people’s farms.
“Everything happens in one night. The film begins with Aiza’s (Seguerra) character, who works as a waitress, talking with other restaurant staff about the tradition. They interpret it according to their present situation and culture. They then outdo each other by coming up with the biggest loot.”
Garcia said the plot was inspired by a session he had with his 15 students. “I asked them two questions: ‘What is the most memorable thing you ever stole? If you had the chance to steal something again, what would it be?’ To some of the kids, this really happened. A few of them used to be snatchers, pickpockets and gunrunners. They violated the law just to get other people’s attention. One girl even said she stole another girl’s boyfriend just because she knew she could. It gave birth to a beautiful story.”
He continued: “This is the exact opposite of ‘Ploning.’ It’s dark. It shows the beauty of the Philippines but also tackles abortion, juvenile delinquency and drug abuse.”
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