Direk Louie finds indie more satisfying
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - February 18, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Louie Ignacio considers himself lucky to be able to experience the best of both worlds, what with his indies and commercial projects. However, the TV and film director readily admits that he finds more personal satisfaction now in doing indies.

Ignacio, whose latest indie outing is Laut, attributes it to the creative freedom indie films afford directors like him.   

“In indies, I have the freedom to choose, first my actors and then my story, the concept and the look, whereas in mainstream, producers ang nasusunod like ito yung gagawin mong bida, lagyan mo ako ng products sa harap... Gumagawa ka nga ng masterpiece pero yung quality nag-su-suffer, yung director mo nag-su-suffer din,” Ignacio tells The STAR in an interview. 

The sponsors and product placement trend, he said, is because “let’s face it, most of the mainstream films nowadays don’t earn or are flops because there’s a problem.”

He believes that this “problem” also stems from the fact that the audiences’ tastes and preferences are changing.  

“Problematic kasi di mo alam kung ano ang formula… Ang mga tastes ng tao nag-iiba na din. Like in a variety show, dati kantahan ang gusto, now comedy. Ganun ang buhay ng mainstream cinema ngayon,” Ignacio says.  

Nevertheless, he is also quick to say that commercial projects, whether film or TV, are very financially rewarding. He is thankful for his commercial work, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to fund some of his indies like his 2014 film Asintado, where he served as one of its producers. 

For him, when it comes to indies, even if the talent fee or budget does not count that much, it doesn’t matter, as long as he has faith in it. Every indie he has made so far is a passion project. 

Apart from his Asintado, he has also done Child Haus, which won as Best Child Film at the Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh last month.

“Sabi nga, sa commercial pang-gastos, to sustain your needs. But in indies, ‘wag kang umasa. However, in indies, makikilala kung anong klaseng director ka, andun talaga yung tatak mo.”

He may not expect a return of investment, but he hopes that “talagang mapanood lang ng maraming estudyante or mabawi mo ng kaunti.”

“My target audience really is the students. That’s the market I want. Wala akong pakialam sa mga sosyal. Pag-napanood ka sa pelikula ko at sosyal ka, tatamaan ka. Itong mga estudyante, gusto kong matuto o matutunan nila ang kultura, yung nawawala sa pagkatao nila bilang Pilipino.”

Ignacio, who’s also known in the industry for helming concerts, TV commercials and variety shows, says that the transition from indie to mainstream wasn’t that difficult.  

“Storytelling-wise, for the narrative form, nasanay na ako (I’m grown used to it) and I love watching indie films so I was able to adjust to it right away,” he explains. 

The technical aspect is another story though because you have a limited budget. 

But it’s a challenge that can’t be overcome. This is evident in his latest indie project. The advocacy film Laut tells the story of Badjaos displaced from Mindanao due to armed conflict and have resettled in Mabalacat, Pampanga in the hope of having a better life.  

Laut has been selected as the opening film of the third Singkuwento International Film Festival Manila Philippines (SIFFMP), one of the highlights of the National Commission of Culture and the Art’s (NCCA) celebration of the Arts Month. The SIFFMP kicks off tonight at 6:30 at the Leandro Locsin Theater, NCCA Building in Intramuros, Manila.

In Laut, Barbie Forteza is “Nadia” who belongs to the indigenous group Badjaos also called as Sama d’Laut. She hopes to marry the man she loves but has to leave him and her home province amidst a crisis. She ends up far from home in Mabalacat where she is left with no choice but to live a new life.

Ignacio hopes that Laut will raise awareness on the plight and struggles of the Badjaos, also tagged as sea gypsies. Indigenous peoples like the Badjaos are regarded as among the most marginalized sectors in the country, suffering from either rejection or indifference not just from the government but also from the society as a whole. 

Laut has been invited to compete in the Main Section of the 38th Oporto International in Portugal come Feb. 26 to March 5.

Meanwhile, Ignacio is gearing up for his next film project which is about aging prostitutes in Pampanga. It will be topbilled by Ai-Ai delas Alas in what he describes as the comedienne’s first foray into “solid drama acting.”

On TV, he is now a co-director of the top-rating variety comedy show Sunday Pinasaya, and continues to meg Regine Velasquez’s cooking show Sarap Diva. Ignacio is also a visual artist, who has been mounting successful exhibits.

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