By Wilbur F. Hernandez

“Nakaka-distract ang kahit isang maliit na contrivance sa isang eksena. Mag-iisip ang viewers mo ng ‘sus dapat ba talaga ganon, meron bang ganong tao pag nasasaktan, parang hindi naman ganyan sa totoong buhay.”

Dan Villegas

Just like any brilliant actor or actress, directors, too, are reluctant to talk or even engage in a short discourse about their directing style. When a filmmaker like Dan Villegas, who is also a hit maker, prefers his viewers to describe the movies he did, than his cast praising him for his works.

Villegas may not recoil, but he obviously fidgets when he gets compliments that his movies are filled with real people, not just characters. Any  cinephile or avid movie fan need not to see English Only Please (Derek Ramsey and Jennylyn Mercado) or Walang Forever (Jericho Rosales and Jennylyn Mercado), and now Always Be My Maybe (starring Gerald Anderson and Arci Munoz), just to demystify why people needed to go through an emotional tunnel before realizing what they need to do when they find their own light.

But what makes the Dan Villegas click distinctly is the blatant male point of view he imbues in his storytelling and the journey of the characters. Suffice to say, the mundane elements combined with the profound prognosis that trail the

trajectories of his characters, they become the people that we are, and not some actors filled with conscious efforts just to be noticed in a scene.

Admittedly, the likes of the great Lolita Rodriguez, Marlene Dauden, Paraluman, Charito Solis, Rogelio dela Rosa, Rosa Rosal, Susan Roces, Mario Montenegro, Carmen Rosales, all  belong to a time where they were the pluperfect luminaries viewed as deities on a pedestal.

Later on, they were replaced by “natural wondrous realists” like Christopher de Leon, Dindo Fernando, Jay Ilagan, Gabby Concepcion, Dina Bonnevie, Amy Austria, Rio Locsin, the Star for All Seasons, The Superstar, The Diamond Star, Dawn Zulueta and the constantly outstanding Hilda Koronel.

The much later “uber everyday persons” are now the likes of a Piolo, Jericho, John Lloyd, Juday, Claudine, and  the “new age on screen afffectives” like Iza Calzado, Angel Locsin, KathNiel, LizQuen, Jadine,  and with the wonderful Bea Alonzo being on top of them all today.

While non-actors like Xian, Kim and Gerald remain yet to really prove themselves as actors. They can learn to be as natural, yet convincing in a character under the lenses of Villegas. As a filmmaker, he can place his actors (or actresses) in a milieu where they can evolve as thespians.

This perception of how Villegas roused his cast, or revved them up for a scene reflects the essentials he wants to present in his movie. His male point of view is resounding – he wants to see the real camaraderie, not just rapport between the cast before they get in front of the cameras.

How and why does he want to maintain the roused energy before a take?

Why does he prefer his cast not to look like they’re acting on screen? These are some of the “shake-off” he wants to see from his cast, that they look like real situations and not just movie scenes. He becomes more delineating, even a minute detail can look out of kilter or slightly askew.

He admits that there are times before a shot actually commenced, he overdoes a comfortable bonding with his cast. Other directors may disagree with this perspective. While shooting Always Be My Maybe for example, he reveals, “Minsan mas matagal pa nga ang jamming na nangyayari eh kesa sa shooting. Para maramdaman nila yung characters, lalo na kung saan nanggagaling iyung characters nila.”

His directing style averts the usual discussion of characterizations on the set. The bantering between actors and directors, particularly to highlight a memorable dialogue is not his style.  Maintaining that,  “Sa bawat eksena gusto ko lang maramdaman mong nandoon ka as viewer. Kasama ka sa shot or kahit parte ka ng eksena. Kapag napanood mo ito (Always Be My Maybe) then naisip mo ‘ah nangyari sa akin ito’, then I am certain that I did my job.” And that job is to give us the idea where we went wrong in a certain situation in our lives and usher us to solve it ourselves.

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