Nic Reyes: Man on the run

Pia Ranada
Last week, we featured his dad, Jun Reyes. This time, it's son Nic's turn. Read on and know why he is indeed his father's son.

DIREK NIC REYES. Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich.

Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich.

MANILA, Philippines – If his father, Jun Reyes, is a storm of distantly rumbling thunder, Nic Reyes is a live wire of ecstatic energy crackling gleefully with his new-found power. 

The spark was lit in his childhood spent in the company of his creative family.

“As a young kid, I grew up watching great films. The influence of my dad and family was very strong. I was watching Empire of the Sun at the age of 6,” Nic tells RAPPLER.

His dad would bring him to sets and an image Nic vividly recalls is of his dad at the film-splicing machine with strips of film hanging from his neck. 

But what was once a steady spark burst into a blaze after high school, during a trip to Italy with his father and brother.

He recalls, “That was when I got exposed to great art. I thought to myself, these statues and pieces of marble are immortal. It’s nice to see something you created live on.” That was when he decided he wanted to create immortal images of his own, and through what better medium than film?

He has been ablaze since, cooking up a plethora of commercials and awarded music videos for top Filipino artists.

His favorite project so far is his latest work, a short film for Sun Life Financial called, The Debt. Inspired from actual stories of Sun Life policy-holders, the film is about a man on the run because of a financial mess.

It’s guns, goons and gold, and then some.

Nic’s choice of plot came from the fact that from the archive of stories sent in by policy-holders, those that interested him the most were of people who fell in a hole.

“How do we translate this into a cinematic experience? People can relate to this experience of desperation,” he says.

For Nic, one of the best things about the film was working with lead actor Janus del Prado. “He’s fantastic and seriously under-rated as an actor. His instincts are great. His timing is great,” he says in the same energy level he was in when the interview started (trust us, it was infectious!).

As an up and coming director working in the age of the Internet and digital film, he celebrates what his dad has called the “democratization of the medium.”

But he demonstrates his own brand of youthful wisdom as he cautions, “Things are so much faster and easier. Just because you have a DSLR doesn’t make you a good filmmaker. The discipline of the craft cannot be fast-tracked.” 

With films like his being screened online and people watching entire movies on their smart phones, does Nic see a future without the cinema theater?

“Nothing will replace the cinema. There is so much more to the experience of watching in a room full of people, laughing together, the ritual of buying pop corn, the entire ritual of the cinematic experience,” he says. 

Nic is excited about the different cinematic experiences that are now available for the Filipino audience, such as the recently-ended Cinemalaya Film Festival. He cites the festival as another symptom of the growing appreciation for local independent films.

For him, indie films represent greater freedom in film-making, providing a platform for different stories and ideas to fight against old patterns of mainstream Filipino films. (For those who missed Cinemalaya last week, some of the films will be screened in UP Diliman this August, at Cinemalaya Goes UP.)

Another pattern he laments is the dirth of history-based movies among local films. Whereas the U.S. has so many war movies like Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down and Inglorious Basterds, we have very few.

Wala tayong cultural identity (in our films). There’s a stronger need now to tell a story about my culture,” Nic shares.

Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich.

That, he says, is where the indie film can come in.

He plans to be on board as well, stocking up top-secret story ideas that involve great moments in Philippine history. 

Like his lead character in The Debt, Nic is a man on the run.

But instead of running from someone, he is running towards an infinite horizon of immortal dreams. –


Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at