Frasco Mortiz: In his dad's footsteps

Pablo A. Tariman - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - There is no way director Frasco Mortiz can avoid showbiz.

He grew up with a father directing for TV and film and as he made it a habit to tag along mainly to observe on the set, it wasn’t long when he found himself behind the TV and film cameras as well.

Bespectacled and very articulate and straight to the point, Frasco happens to be one of four children of actor-director and song composer Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz.

   In the ’70s, Bobot is part of the Vilma Santos love team identified with the song My Pledge of Love opposite the Nora Aunor-Tirso Cruz III craze of the ’70s also known for the theme song Maria Leonora Teresa.  

Long after the love team lost steam, the older Mortiz found himself behind the TV cameras doing such popular shows as  Goin’ Bananas,  Tropang Trumpo and Goin’ Bulilit, among others.

“Yes, it was my Dad who opened doors for me,” Frasco said during the presscon for his first full-length horror movie, Pagpag: Siyam Na Buhay which is one of the entries in the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival.

With very little persuasion, Frasco took over his Dad in Goin’ Bulilit and after a few years, he was behind many TV projects among them the teleserye Eva Fonda which logged 50 episodes. His film debut was The Reunion which was clearly a reflection of his generation’s lifestyle.

Frasco inherited his Dad’s knack for songwriting and later co-wrote some of the station song IDs (Sukob Na) as part of TV promos the likes of which were soon adopted by other TV networks. “I know my father’s taste in music and television,” he admits. “I’d like to think we don’t differ much in that area.”

 He was slow but meticulous in his first TV directorial jobs and his father was the first one to defend his work style when some network insiders noted his pretty slow pace. “He’d tell the big bosses to watch the finished output before they comment. Thankfully, they liked the outcome. Indeed, it was my Dad who gave me that rare opportunity to show what I can accomplish in television.”

He is aware most in the young generation, especially the cosmopolitan kids probably have no idea what pagpag is all about. It is the practice of dusting or shaking off part of one’s attire before going home from a wake. The superstition is that those don’t do pagpag might bring home evil spirits.

“My Dad does that and I end up practising that as well,” he recounts. “I’d stop at some gasoline station and dust off my jacket or a polo shirt before heading for home. If the young ones watch this movie, they might end up believing this as well.”

Indeed, Pagpag is a product of the new generation from the director, actors and even cinematographer in the person of David Abaya, son of acclaimed director Marilou Diaz-Abaya.

He recalls: “David (Abaya) and I worked together for the first time in The Reunion and we realized we are about the same age. Fortunately, we have the same interest in films, we observe the same work ethics and it was easy to exchange ideas because we treat each other as part of tropa (buddy). As we practically have the same taste, I totally trusted him as he suggested something very technical when I wanted a certain look in some sequence. Direk Marilou — then already frail and wearing surgical mask — still attended the premiere and told us she liked the young look of the film and the new approach. She added only young filmmakers can do what we have achieved in my debut film.”

Indeed, Pagpag is dominated by young actors not very far from Frasco’s age.

He has directed Kathryn Bernardo way back in her very young Goin’ Bulilit days and noticed nothing much has changed in the young star’s attitude. “She goes about her professional routine unbothered by instant fame and fortune. Her studies remain a priority. It’s nice to be able to direct her this time with a different material with no less than the equally popular heartthrob, Daniel Padilla.”

Frasco noticed Daniel carries a different aura and looked very secure about his manhood he could not see him posing in underwear commercial just to get attention. “He is a perfect gentleman, especially when dealing with his leading ladies. Like Kathryn, he handles his newfound fame very well.”

The young director talks on the challenge of doing a horror film in a popular film fest with equally young stars with ultra large following.

He concludes: “The other big challenges are of course the expectations which could turn out to be a heavy burden. It is a given that you are expected to do well in the box office and since we are the only horror entry in the festival, I’d be happy if we land in the Top Three films in the box office. Since I directed a horror film, I really want a happy mix of kilig and horror, not at the expense of one over the other.”

(Pagpag: Siyam Na Buhay opens Dec. 25 in all cinemas.)











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