MANILA, Philippines – Coco Martin's excitement was palpable as he discussed his new movie, Ang Panday, which is part of the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. (WATCH: 'Ang Panday' trailer merges human and fantasy worlds)
The FPJ's Ang Probinsyano actor had multiple roles for the film, also serving as the director, writer, and producer. (READ: Coco Martin to direct, star in new 'Ang Panday' film)
"Mahirap po pala (It's difficult)," Coco said when asked how he felt about directing the movie.
"Honestly, nahirapan ako sa pagiging director pero 'pag gusto mo 'yung ginagawa mo, kahit mahirap, hindi ko siya tinitreat na napapagod ka or nahihirapan ka. Ine-enjoy mo 'yung bawat moment na ginagawa mo."
(Honestly, I had a hard time being a director but if you like what you're doing, even if it's hard, I don't treat it as I'm tired or having a hard time. I enjoy every moment of what I'm doing.)
Coco said being the producer was a challenge since he was the one who bankrolled the whole project. According to him, co-producers Star Cinema and Viva Films came on board only after he showed them the finished product.
"Bago ko gawin 'yung pelikula, sabi ko sa sarili ko kung gagawa ako ng pelikula, gusto ko ako ang magpro-produce," he said. "Kasi, siyempre, definitely first movie ko ito. Walang kasiguraduhan kung mababawi ko 'yung puhunan, kikita ba siya. Sabi ko, ako na ang po-produce para if ever na pangit, hindi magustuhan ng mga viewers, wala akong ibang sisihin kung hindi ako."
(Before I did the movie, I told myself that I would produce it. Because, of course, this is the first movie I'm directing. There's no assurance I'll be able to get a return on investment or it'll be a big hit. I said I'll just produce it so that if it doesn't turn out well or if viewers don't like it, there'll be no one to blame but myself.)
Coco added that he knows movie producing is a risky business – he's seen how some of the producers on films he was part of did not get their money back. So when he decided to make Ang Panday into a movie, he put his money where his mouth is. After all, what better way to show your faith in yourself than to personally finance your passion?
As to whether he will try to produce a movie again, Coco said it may take a while.
When it comes to being a director, he still feels slightly uneasy in the big chair. "Nahihiya... nakakahiya pero paninindigan." (I'm shy about it but I will embrace it.)
Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler
New leading ladies
Though the movie involves a big cast with many of the actors and actresses coming from the show Ang Probinsyano, Coco decided to take the risk and cast neophyte actresses Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa and Binibining Pilipinas International 2017 Mariel de Leon as the film's leading ladies. (READ: Mariel de Leon on Miss International 2017 and working with Coco Martin in 'Ang Panday')
"Ang daming nagtatanong sa akin nung binubuo ko 'yung Ang Panday, sino magiging leading lady ko. Definitely hindi ko alam…hindi ako makaisip. Hanggang isang araw nag-tape ako ng Ang Probinsyano, nandoon ako sa tent, may maliit akong TV doon, pinalabas si Mariel sa Magandang Buhay. Sobrang gandang-ganda ako sa kanya. So paglabas ko ng tent, sinabi ko doon sa EP ko, si Malou Crisologo, sabi ko, 'Tiyang, meron na akong leading lady,' sabi kong gano'n…si Mariel de Leon," Coco shared.
(Many were asking when I was conceptualizing Ang Panday who would be my leading lady. In the beginning I couldn't think of one. Until one day while taping for Ang Probinsyano, I was inside a tent and there was a small TV, I saw Mariel on Magandang Buhay. I found her very beautiful. So when I came out of the tent, I told my EP, Malou Crisologo, that I'd already found a leading lady... Mariel de Leon.)
' Screengrab from YouTube/ABS-CBN Star Cinema
"Si Kylie kasi, nung nanalo siya sa Miss International, kung baga isa siya sa mga... pinangarap ko makatrabaho and sumakto naman na bumagay siya sa role sa Enkantadia world."
(When Kylie won Miss International, she became one of those I dreamed of working with and it was perfect that the role in the Enkantadia world suited her.)
' Screengrab from YouTube/ABS-CBN Star Cinema
Coco said both women more than exceeded his expectations.
Mariel's acting, said Coco, was impressive. "Siguro sabi ko nga because of Tito Boyet and Tita Sandy, kumbaga anong ie-expect mo?" he added. (Maybe it's because of Tito Boyet and Tita Sandy, so what would you expect, right?)
Mariel is the daughter of veteran actors Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong.
As for Kylie, Coco said she was willing to learn and he helped guide her along the way.
Unlike the previous Flavios in the past Panday movies, Coco said his character, Flavio III is very different. He described him as very mischievous, growing up in the slums, the opposite of the iconic Flavio portrayed by the late Fernando Poe Jr.
In the storyline, Flavio III has the bloodline of the first panday (blacksmith) and is mankind's last hope as evil forces led by his archnemesis, Lizardo, plan to create chaos in the human world.
Playing the role of Lizardo is Jake Cuenca, who has co-starred with Coco in shows such as Ikaw Lamang and Tayong Dalawa. According to Coco, he had no one else in mind but Jake for the role.
"Honestly, nung napagdesisyunan namin ang 'Panday', wala na kaming ibang naisip na ibang gaganap kung hindi si Jake talaga. Kasi si Jake, sabi ko nga ako bilang artista, sobrang bilib ako sa kanya. Napakagaling niyang umarte."
(Honestly, when we decided to do Ang Panday, we had no else in mind [to play Lizardo] but Jake. As a fellow actor, I'm so impressed with him. He's a very good actor.)
Ang Panday opens on December 25. – Rappler.com