John Torres: Out of his shell

Izah Morales
The young filmmaker has gone from reluctant to daring

DIREK JOHN TORRES. Photography by Cholo dela Vega. Grooming by Georginna Desuasido

Photography by Cholo dela Vega. Grooming by Georginna Desuasido

MANILA, Philippines – The sound of the camera rolling tickled his imagination like magic. It triggered his curiosity on how 24 moving pictures per second create stories.

From this simple art appreciation class in high school, John Torres knew that he wanted to be a filmmaker.  

But it took Torres 8 years after college to produce his first ever short film, Tawid Gutom

“I didn’t know that I was already making a film. My process was different. I shot first, edited, then wrote the script,” shares Torres, who intended to share the film with close friends only. 

His friends Alexis Tioseco and Khavn dela Cruz encouraged him to submit his 3-minute film to the .MOV Digital Film Festival in 2004.

But it was Todo Todo Teros, his debut full-length feature film, that garnered him international accolades such as the Dragon and Tigers Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the NETPAC Award at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2006.

“My films are very personal,” confesses Torres. “But what can be very personal can also be social and political. It invites us to think of what’s happening around us.”  

From then on, the once reluctant filmmaker became a daring experimental director. 

Torres moved out of his comfort zone and decided to use the 35-mm celluloid film format for his project, Lukas Niño. He planned to shoot this project both in film and in digital format.

“It’s my first time to shoot on film. It’s also my first time to start with a finished written script,” says Torres. He considers the film his most challenging to date. 

“I’m wrestling with the format. The weight of the camera is too heavy. It’s also a challenge to source funds,” shares Torres.  

Although Lukas Niño is a recipient of the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, additional funding is still needed. 

The lack of funds has not stopped Torres from working on the film. Through crowdsourcing, he is able to secure much-needed financial support.

“Right now, I’m just waiting and hoping for additional funding. I have also learned to adjust to what’s available in terms of resources, characters and movie sets,” he says.

Lukas Niño is originally scheduled for release in September. But due to the need for more funds, screening has been pushed to the end of the year.

“If people see that it will be screened abroad, they will have the curiosity to screen it here. But this still doesn’t guarantee that the film will be shown here in the Philippines,” says Torres, who has 16 films that will be featured at the Seoul International New Media Festival that runs from July 26 to August 12.

Photography by Cholo dela Vega. Grooming by Georginna Desuasido

Despite the struggle in getting his films screened in his home country, Torres’ hope that his kababayans will be able to watch his masterpieces one day continues to burn.

“Being mainstream is having more people watch your films. That’s my dream, but I don’t want to be limited to that formula,” he concludes. –


(For more information on John Torres’ independent film projects, visit his blog, 

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