Director Paul Soriano on possible acting career: "I might ruin my grandfather's legacy!"
- Vanessa Balbuena () - September 24, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Unless an earlier offer comes up, we’d have to wait for 2013 to see another big screen masterpiece from director Paul Soriano. That’s because he has a self-imposed time-table of one movie every two years. He wants each second in his films to count, and a rushed job just won’t cut it for him.

After his second full-length opus titled Thelma which starred recently headline-hogging actress Maja Salvador, Paul is now working on two stories which he aims to fully develop before the year ends. He shared his hope to work with Judy Ann Santos next, if the Young Superstar would allow and grant him that opportunity. Of course, he’s still directing TV commercials on a regular basis, something he has happily done for the last five years.

"I will not stop doing that as I love advertising. It’s a different monster. The satisfaction is equally great. But while advertising is my main job, I’ve always told myself that I want to make a film every two years. And so far, so good," said Paul during a recent press conference in Cebu.

He came out with A Journey Home in 2009, an inspirational film debut where his girlfriend Toni Gonzaga was among the cast. This month and two years after, he was back with Thelma, another inspirational indie drama laced with worthwhile lessons and moral values. It’s starting to become Paul’s signature genre, a deviation from most local independent releases that often delve on the dark, daring or controversial.

Why every two years? "Because personally, I don’t think you should rush a movie. This is just my opinion as a director. In a commercial, we spend about a month for a 30-seconder. So what more for an hour and 35 minutes? For Thelma, every second of it was planned. It was that intensive for me. That’s why it took me about six months to edit it. We finished shooting in December last year and I finished editing it just this June. Including research and scriptwriting, it was almost two years in the making."

His painstaking efforts seem not to have been done in vain because not only have reviews lauded his work, the film is also set for a world premiere at the 31st Hawaii International Film Festival next month. Another proof that it doesn’t take an eye-popping budget to create a movie Filipinos can be proud of and international audiences can appreciate.

Paul, who considers Steven Spielberg as one of his favorite directors, said, "We’re indie, so definitely there is a challenge in the budget. But it doesn’t mean that just because I have lesser resources, I can’t make it look great. I owe it to the viewers who pay to watch the movie. I want the people to experience great visuals, a great story and be really entertained. We might not have had a Star Cinema budget, but we poured our heart and our passion to give it our best."

Born in Los Angeles, California, Paul spent his elementary and high school years in the Philippines. He went back to the US to study filmmaking at Santa Clara University.

On his return home, Paul started out directing concerts, events, AVPs and music videos until finally venturing into making TVC’s just like his dad Jeric. His father is a well-known commercial director who briefly dipped into showbiz when he appeared and directed his first movie in the 80’s, the Bagets-inspired Hotshots, starring Aga Muhlach and Gary V.

Now, as passionate as Paul is with filmmaking, the same can’t be said with a possible cross-over career to acting. Prod him all you might, but the easy-on-the-eyes director is convinced it’s not in his DNA to be an effective actor.

He has remained consistent with his reply to all those asking why he’s wasting his good looks behind the cameras. Acting just doesn’t appeal to him and for a self-confessed perfectionist, he’s not one to waste precious time doing something half-hearted.

"I’m the type of person who will not do something I’m not comfortable with. I know I won’t do good acting in front of the camera, so I’d rather be behind it, directing. It’s hard for me to say yes to something I know I won’t be great at. I might ruin my grandfather’s legacy!" Paul laughingly expressed. He is the grandson of the late ‘50s actor Nestor de Villa, who was a matinee idol in his time.

Although he took an acting workshop in the US, it was a class meant to teach directors how it feels to be an actor.

He again underscored where his heart lies. "Actors are blessed with their craft. I really feel I was blessed with the talent to be behind the camera. I haven’t trained and studied acting. I believe that if I act, you will see Paul Soriano. I don’t think I have that ability to become a character." (FREEMAN)

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