Joey Reyes accepts the FDCP challenge despite some apprehensions

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Joey Reyes accepts the FDCP challenge despite some apprehensions
Direk Joey’s oath-taking is presided by Justice Miraflor Castillo.

MANILA, Philippines — Even before officially becoming the new head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Jose Javier Reyes was widely expected to take over after Tirso Cruz III stepped down.

When previously asked about it, the veteran filmmaker said, “You know what, it’s very flattering. But then, at the same time, the responsibility is big. To begin with, (former FDCP head) Liza Dino’s shoes are big to put on. And you have to move forward, Tirso’s activities were equally impressive that you have to push this further. Whoever is going to be the next chair will have to carry on and at the same time, push it forward. Such a big responsibility.”

During an exclusive interview with The STAR after his oath-taking last Thursday with presiding Justice Mariflor Castillo, direk Joey, as he’s fondly called in the industry, shared why he ultimately accepted the FDCP challenge despite some apprehensions.

“Two words: Tirso Cruz,” the ever unreservedly blunt direk Joey said.

It was Tirso who tapped the award-winning director-screenwriter to be FDCP technical consultant and then endorsed him to succeed the veteran star as the national agency for film’s chairman and CEO.

“Nung nag-resign si Pip (Tirso) — last year pa gusto na niyang bumitiw kasi nga sa mga iba’t iba niyang commitments and we were stopping him. Sabi namin don’t because papaano na yung mga… No. 1, a lot of people gave up their work to be with Pip at FDCP,” direk Joey further told The STAR.

“Paano na sila ‘pag mag-resign si Pip lalo na yung mga coterminous sa kanya. So, sabi namin, ‘wag muna alalayan ka namin. But then it came to a point that we realized hindi na siya masaya kasi gusto n’yo mag-artista.

“Tapos siguro dahil dinumog pa siya ng kung anu-anong mga offers. He was getting offers left and right so we understood na, c’mon give him a break. I think he has done what he could for the year and a half that he was in office.”

Though Tirso’s resignation also came with an endorsement of direk Joey, the latter harbored no expectations.

“Sabi niya, he was resigning and he was endorsing me because I’ve been with him all throughout (and) for the sake of continuity. Sabi ko, o sige. Tapos pinasulat nila ako ng letter of consent na if ever I am willing to take on the job,” he said.

The always candid direk Joey shares an anecdote after his announcement as new Film Development Council of the Philippines chair and CEO: ‘The night I was announced chairman, in my Facebook messenger, may tatlong na nag-direct message sa akin na umuutang. Naloka ako, hahaha!... But the great thing about it is many reached out. Many regional filmmakers sent me messages, which I really think is something that we’ve overlooked a bit.’

But there was no assurance as it’s a political appointment, he added.

“A lot of factors are brought in the selection of who is going to be a chairman because it is also with the Office of the President. So, I was not expecting anything. I said if they chose me, o ‘di fine, kung hindi ako mapili, okay din, it was not meant for me.

“I was not expecting but at the same time, they were asking me to prepare in the event that they chose me because I have to have an agenda the moment I take the job.”

Now, with this new responsibility on his lap, he admitted something has got to give. One is he will have to give up the Cinemalaya Film Festival, where he has been part of the executive committee since 2019, as main competition director and monitoring head.

“No. 1, I have to give up Cinemalaya. Not that I want to but I have to because this will be a conflict of interest. FDCP gives grants to Cinemalaya finalists… so it’s a conflict of interest if I stay in both organizations,” he said.

“But I am going to be talking to the Board of Trustees and ask their permission if I can stay for the 2024 edition kasi ilang months na lang, it’s the 20th anniversary of Cinemalaya and I’ve been the one na nakatutok doon sa finalists since its inception.

“So, if I step down now, it may create major problems within the organization to find somebody to follow up what I’ve been doing. But it still depends on the Board of Trustees if I can stay until August 2024 but after that, I am going to step down.”

He will also stop doing films although prior to his appointment, he already gave his commitment to three film projects that have started pre-production already.

He said, “I have a commitment to the producers in terms of the deadline of output… so I’ll ask them if I could just finish these two or three films, it depends on how much they agree to.

“Then after that, I won’t make any films as long as I am chairman of FDCP because again, people might deem it as conflict of interest.

“But part of the assurance is that any film I do will not make use of any of the grants or privileges which are given and awarded by FDCP… I mean, I just have to finish them due to contractual commitment.”

The filmmaker with nephew, GMA ‘Encantadia’ and ‘Voltes V: Legacy’ director Mark Reyes.

Explaining the things that he has to sacrifice, he cited what Cinemalaya chair Laurice Guillen told him, “Laurice said, sige, I understand because it will be for the greater good of the industry.”

He stressed, “At this point, I have to be very fair to everybody. It’s not a matter of Cinemalaya or QCinema, but all the festivals for that matter. That’s my assurance. I have to be fair, whether you’re a big-time producer or a small-time producer, you get the same treatment as long as you provide what is being asked from you in terms of qualifications.”

He shared, “Pero ito yung magandang anecdote, the night that I was announced chairman, in my Facebook messenger, may tatlong nag-direct message sa akin na umuutang. Naloka ako, hahaha!... Pero maganda dun, madaming nag-reach out, ang daming regional filmmakers who sent me messages, which I really think is something that we’ve overlooked a bit.”

Meanwhile, The STAR asked the newly-appointed chair about his first order of business. Direk Joey said, “Cleaning the office, there are things that we need to change in terms of policies and systems.”

Next will be the preparations for the annual Parangal ng Sining, which will recognize Philippine cinema icons and industry pillars, namely, Armando “Bing” Lao, Clodualdo “Doy” del Mundo Jr., Boots Anson Roa-Rodrigo, Gloria Romero, Dr. Nicanor Tiongson and film organizations, Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA) and ABS-CBN Film Restoration (Sagip Pelikula). FDCP is posthumously awarding film curator and archivist Teddy Co and Cannes-winning actress Jaclyn Jose.

FDCP is also helping with Cinemalaya’s 20th anniversary and Metro Manila Film Festival’s 50th year preparations.

He also confirmed that FDCP, together with producers and directors, will soon meet up with the First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos to discuss matters related to the state of the Philippine movie industry.

“Hopefully, with the help of the First Lady and other benevolent and generous government officials, we can help sustain the industry. That’s the No. 1 priority of FDCP — to help sustain the industry.

“Nakakalungkot yung mga box-office results (beyond MMFF). Hindi naman pwede 10 days a year lang ang Philippine movie industry.

“We have to find a way of sustaining it and encouraging producers to come up with different kinds of content and films that hopefully will be Filipino but at the same time, will have global appeal.”

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