Fil-Am director finds his dream in Pacquiao film 'Manny' | Inquirer Entertainment

Fil-Am director finds his dream in Pacquiao film ‘Manny’

/ 01:20 AM February 07, 2014

Ryan Matthew Moore

LOS ANGELES—Filipino-American filmmaker Ryan Matthew Moore has always dreamed of honoring Filipino cinema. But having been born and raised in Southern California, his ideas for a dream project during his early years as a young filmmaker were vague at best.

Thanks to his experiences in studying in Manila, learning about his family’s heritage, and his keen interest in Manny Pacquiao’s career, Ryan was able to find his dream project—“Manny,” the documentary.


Probably the most up-close-and-personal film on the eight-division world champion and beloved Saranggani Congressman, “Manny” is co-directed by Ryan with Academy Award winner Leon Gast.


Narrated by Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List,” “Batman Begins,” “Taken”), the documentary closely depicts Pacquiao’s day-to-day life as a father, son, boxer, politician, showbiz personality, humanitarian and man of faith.

It includes interviews with Pacquiao’s inner circle, friends, family and notable Pacquiao fans including Mark Wahlberg (“The Fighter,” “Lone Survivor,” “Transformers 4”), and Jeremy Piven (HBO’sEntourage,” “Old School,” “Serendipity”).

Discovering the connection

Ryan took the first step of the Manny journey in Manila, where he lived for five years. He was then a high school student at Brent International School in Pasig.

Having previously done short films in elementary school in the US, Ryan continued to do short films and theater as a high school student at Brent International School in Pasig. His exposure to Philippine cinema and television helped cultivate his dream of doing a project that honors Filipino cinema and Filipinos.

“So this [Manny movie] is a long-time coming,” Ryan said. “This is a dream that I had for a very long time.”


His family’s heritage and history in the Philippines would help him find the connection between his personal life and his dream project. “Living in the Philippines completely opened my mind,” Ryan said. He learned so much about his background, culture, and family history.

“My mother had a very hard upbringing there,” Ryan said. “And moving to the States as a nurse, she worked very hard to come here. So seeing firsthand where she came from, it gave me a very deep appreciation for all the sacrifices my family made for me to be where I am. It was definitely an experience which motivated me very much.”

Having multi-awarded Filipina actress Hilda Koronel as a stepmom has made Ryan even more eager to pursue his dream project. Back in Southern California, Ryan started researching on stories for his movie. Then he became a fan of Manny Pacquiao.

Watching Pacquiao’s career and his fights, Ryan realized that the boxer embodied what his mother went through, what a lot of Filipinos go through: Having to leave home and family behind to make something of themselves abroad to support their family.

For the young director, Pacman’s life seems like the perfect story that would be inspiring not just to the ordinary Filipino, but also to pretty much “anyone who really wanted to feel like they wanted to be inspired.”

“There’s so much to him beyond what people know him for,” Ryan said.

“There was really nothing more I wanted to do. So I kind of got on this journey of developing a film and eventually going after it.”


Chasing Manny

Some five years ago, right around the time before Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton, Ryan met Manny through common friends.

They started hanging out, playing billiards, going to karaoke bars and even attending church together. That was also around the time when Ryan came up with the idea for the Manny movie and pitched the idea to Pacquiao himself.

“Manny loved the idea, he loved the concepts,” Ryan revealed. However, Pacquiao’s implied approval of the ideas and concepts was not the end-all be-all solution for the movie. As Ryan soon discovered, there were layers upon layers of people, handlers, and hangers-on around Manny that he had to get through to make things happen.

During the early days of filming, Ryan had to get through to these people just so he could keep tabs on Manny’s schedule and be at the places where he could capture raw footage.

Ryan said the filming process was very difficult because of the logistical challenges posed by Manny’s schedule. In fact, Ryan said that filming process itself was complicated, crazy and full of interesting subplots that a separate documentary can be made out of it.

That documentary would have been called “Chasing Manny,” because

“You’re literally chasing him around,” the young director said.

Building trust

By 2011, Ryan “knew all the players” and they would feed him information about Manny’s next stops. By then, the two had a good working relationship. Their relationship became so close that Manny was comfortable with letting Ryan get into his personal space.

“Manny and I reached a comfort level when I could knock on his bedroom door,” Ryan said. “Jinkee would be there with him. I’d knock on his door and say, ‘Manny, can I come in and film?’ He’d say ‘Sure!’ And we’d come in and film his bedroom. It’s like that.”

Ryan knew that he had a level of access that HBO, Showtime, or anyone else ever had. He was even allowed to be in Congress meetings, closed-door workouts, or meetings with Chavit Singson.

“He told me that he considered me someone whom he felt was a good person, and he calls me his friend. And I think too, that because Jinkee became very comfortable with me as well, Jinkee would confide in me certain things. Jinkee would tell me things at times,” Ryan revealed.

“I was doing my job and I wasn’t overstepping boundaries,” Ryan said. “I was there to film him, I was there to do the best possible work I could do. I think he knew that.”


Manny, the man


“I chose the title ‘Manny’ because by the end of the film, I wanted people to feel like they knew him as just Manny. Not Congressman Pacquiao, not the Pambansang Kamao, not the guy with ten world titles, but the guy who you could be on a first name basis with because you feel him,” Ryan said. He ultimately wanted Pacquiao to be known as Manny, the man.

“Manny” runs for 107 minutes, and is set for a nationwide release in the Philippines this March. Ryan’s team is negotiating a date for the North American release.

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Originally posted at 10:36 am | Thursday, February 6, 2014

TAGS: Boxing, Culture, Documentary, Film, Heritage, movie, politics

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