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Entertainment

John Prats: Directing is a way of giving back

Leah Salterio - The Philippine Star

John Prats will probably surprise most showbiz fans who didn’t keep track of his actual years in the showbiz industry.

Last February, the actor turned 37 and it has been nearly three decades since he has been seen in front of the cameras. He started his showbiz career at a tender age of eight, when he was introduced in the youth-oriented program, Ang TV, back in 1992.

By the time he was a teenager, John formed part of the all-male trio, JCS, with Carlo Aquino and Stefano Mori. John subsequently joined the movies, too, and was popularly paired with Heart Evangelista as his loveteam partner.

In 2017, John tried his hand at directing and debuted with the concert of Moira de la Torre, Tagpuan. He even ventured into co-production with Cornerstone Entertainment for Moira.

That was followed by the anniversary concert of K Brosas and even the major concert of Erik Santos at the Mall of Asia Arena, which John also directed. Subsequently, John joined Cornerstone Entertainment.

“They took that risk with me,” John says of Cornerstone Entertainment. “Ang tagal kong hinintay na may isang management na maniwala sa akin.”

However, John never directed for TV. Hence, he was surprised when he was called on by ABS-CBN TV Productions head, Cory Vidanes, in October last year to assign him to work at the helm of the ABS-CBN Christmas special, “the most meaningful Christmas special” of the network. That was the year ABS-CBN lost its franchise and had its first Christmas amid the pandemic.

“Sa concert, wala akong background,” John unabashedly discloses. “Ang motto ko, kapag may pinagawa sa akin, I will just jump and do it kasi wala akong choice. The challenge was to have a Christmas special sa ASAP stage. Hindi ko alam paano ko nagawa.”

As early as 2014, John was already directing corporate events for his dad, Daniel Rafael Prats, whose company was mounting different events.

“I just had the vision, pero wala akong alam sa concerts,” John grants. “Hanggang sa nakikialam na ako sa ilaw, sa editing, sa visuals. Sa lahat ng concerts na nagawa ko, everything was a learning experience for me. Doon nagsimula ang journey ko.”

When he shot Jologs with the late director Gilbert Perez in 2002, then 19-year-old John recalled what the director told him. “Dapat alam mo kung paano mag-direct. Tignan mo kung paano ang mga shots.”

At that time, John didn’t take the advice seriously, although he seriously remembered. Today, directing for John is his way of giving back to the company that took care of him from the time he was a kid.

“I really don’t know how to direct,” John honestly says. “Kung ano lang ang maganda sa mata ko. For that Christmas special, I directed more than a hundred stars. The special ran for four hours. Ganun kalaki. I will never forget that moment and all the people who worked with me and gave me the opportunity.”

Last July, John was given a more challenging assignment when he was tasked to direct the network’s flagship daily noontime program, It’s Showtime. He gave a different energy to the show.

“I talked to everyone on the set, even our cameramen,” John recalls. “I just encouraged them to give me good shots. I told them, ‘Let’s help each other. We’re on the same team.’ Even the lights should complement and should match. Lahat ng suggestions nila valid. I just give them the freedom to suggest, play and do what they want to do. Good vibes feel at magaan ang environment sa set.”

John launched the first inter-active segment on the show, Madlang Pi-Poll. On the first day of the launch on a Saturday, an amazing number of 45,000 viewers joined. John’s wife of six years, Isabel Oli, immediately congratulated him when he went home.

“Expect more changes in the coming months,” John offers. “We’re working on it. We just want to give that noontime hour where every viewer should be entertained, from Reyna ng Tahanan to Tawag ng Tanghalan.

“There was a time I went to the live set early and we rehearsed the lights. When we did it on the show, nagulat lahat. I just love the feeling that I keep on surprising all the artists and capturing that raw feeling. Iba ‘yun.”

The It’s Showtime family embraced John and gave their 100 percent trust to him as the new director. They welcomed him with open arms. “Wala akong na-feel na resistance,” he says. “I’m assuring them that I’ll really work for It’s Showtime with them. We built a good chemistry. Hindi ko naramdaman na bago ako.”

While he calls the shots in It’s Showtime, John, by the time he’s out of the studio, leaves the home management to his wife, Isabel, fondly called “Liv” in the showbiz circle.

“I provide for the family,” John offers. “I just can’t go home and change the rules. So kung ano ang rules niya, ‘yun ang sinusunod ko when I get home. Siya ang reyna at home.”

When it comes to disciplining the kids, John also leaves the fort to Isabel. The couple recently marked their sixth wedding anniversary. “You realize every day that you are so comfortable with this person, she knows your strengths and weaknesses,” says John of his wife. “Hindi ko na kayang mabuhay ng wala siya. That’s no longer a joke.

“All the experiences that happen to me every day, I don’t share them with others. Sa kanya lang. Na-realize ko when I work in a bubble taping for Ang Probinsyano sometimes for as long as two months, hindi ko na pala kayang mawala itong babaeng ito sa buhay ko.

“I saw how hands-on she is with our kids. She’s willing to sacrifice her career and even her happiness for the kids. I know all the sacrifices na ginagawa niya. Never namin magiging option na mag-give up kami in our marriage.”

JOHN PRATS

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