What Direk Paul Soriano looks for in a film he’d like to produce
Seeing your film finally on the big screen is perhaps one of the most fulfilling things for every filmmaker. Before that, you must find your “ideal” match—a supportive partner who supports your vision and is willing to take a huge risk.
Our quick chat with director Paul Soriano during the recent DGPI QCinema Film Pitch event revealed that he is the kind of filmmaker who’s in for the long haul, for better or for worse.
At the helm of his own film production company, TEN17P, he shared what he looks for in a film he’d like to produce.
“I listen to the ‘voice’ of the person pitching the story—from the tone, his expressions, you can see if he is passionate about it, the way he knows his material. If we invest or partner with you, it’s almost like we are going to get married for a couple of years… depends on how long the film is going to take, and I want to make sure that he has that fire, that hunger, whether you are experienced or not.”
He added that it’s more of a “feel” thing for him when it comes to projects he’s interested in producing, saying that he’s “looking for a connection with the filmmaker.”
Though most producers look at the endgame, which is a return of investment, Direk Paul said,“With TEN17P, the story comes first, the business side can come later. We always invest in the creative side of things, then if it can be successful financially, that’s great.”
Does he consider himself a “risky” investor?
“Oh, definitely. We’ll continue to make mistakes, but what’s always important is the growth, the learning experience. That’s why I love film pitch events like this,” he said.
It’s a tossup between directing and producing, but Direk Paul believes that “the director’s hat will always win.”
He says that he tries to direct at least one film a year, and this year, his new “baby” “Mañita” is making its world premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival (Oct. 25 to Nov. 5), as part of the main competition.
He’s also the producer of “Sunod,” the lone horror entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Fest, which stars Carmina Villarroel and Mylene Dizon, under the helm of Carlo Ledesma.
He added, “Early next year, we have another rom-com “Love the Way Ü Lie” with Alex Gonzaga and Xian Lim, directed by RC delos Reyes.
“We’re also producing three to four more films, and we hope to start shooting next month. We just have to keep the ball rolling.”
Direk Paul noticeably beamed with pride when he talked about “Mañita,” a film that he both directed and produced.
“It is a story that I came up with and I collaborated with Lav Diaz,” he said. “It’s about Bela Padilla’s character, who was discharged from the army.
“So, she goes on a journey to seek revenge on people who killed her father when she was young.
“This is different because it’s character-centric. It’s a very personal production for me because it took me 13 years to make a film like this because I was able to really express who I am as a filmmaker through this film.”
The usually quiet and very composed director let us in on a little secret.
“Here’s a trivia: I’ve always wanted to work with Bela Padilla,” he confessed. “She’s one of my favorite actresses today and she’s very good. So, we tried one and it just didn’t work out.
“I had a meeting with her and, to cut the long story short, I said, ‘Look, Bela, I have a movie for you,’ and I literally pitched the story to her. Then, she said, ‘Direk, yes, I’m in.’
“I didn’t even have the script yet, and she just said, ‘Direk, I just want to work with you, let’s make it work.’
“We shot the film (“Mañanita”) and its premiering in the main competition of the Tokyo International Film Festival. Then, it will be shown in Philippine cinemas on Dec. 4.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.