Boys’ love genre blows up, reaches Phl with ‘Gameboys’
STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky Calderon (The Freeman) - June 21, 2020 - 12:00am

You and your friends have probably heard about “Gameboys,” the YouTube series of IdeaFirst Company that netizens have been talking about since it premiered three weeks ago. Starring Kokoy de Santos and Elijah Canlas, Star Circuit caught the initial episode and we found it interesting so we thought of featuring the director behind the project, Ivan Payawal, in our column.

In an email interview, we asked Direk Ivan how “Gameboys” started and the inspiration behind it.

“We were in the middle of the first month of the lockdown when Direks Jun Lana and Perci Intalan approached me with an idea. At that time, the ‘2gether’ series from Thailand was erupting and the genre called ‘boys love’ (BL) entered mainstream media. It really blew up and came across my radar,” he answered.

“I was already hooked with the series. Our writer Ash Malanum was the one who suggested to me to watch it since I was looking for a series to binge-watch. I found myself watching six episodes in, and waited every Friday for the next new episodes. I was fascinated by the magic and the addiction that comes with it.”

So Direk Ivan was totally in when Direks Jun and Perci gave him the idea of doing a BL series and see how Filipino storytellers can give this loved genre a new twist. “We wanted to join the wave and give it a Filipino flavor, ” Direk Ivan said.

At first, he thought they were going to shoot it after the lockdown, but Direk Jun had an idea for a story of two boys falling in love at this time (NCOV time) and they were going to shoot it in their homes. Direk Jun felt that people will be able to relate to it immediately since the milieu in the show is a reflection of what’s happening in the world.

The idea to cast Kokoy de Santos and Elijah Canlas was Direk Jun and Direk Perci’s idea. They were already part of the project even before it took off. Kokoy and Elijah were the only choices for their roles.

“We were all familiar with the talents of the actors and we trusted that they were fit and perfect for the roles. I am aware of how talented Kokoy and Elijah are, since I have worked with both on separate shows. Elijah and I did a series called ‘Unconditional’ which hopefully will air soon while with Kokoy, we were in the middle of production of ‘Love VS Stars’ when we had to stop because of the pandemic,” Direk Ivan continued.

“Direk Jun and Perci really have a good eye for casting actors and putting them together in a right material.  Somehow they can sense already that this can work. In person, Elijah has always been kind of mysterious, shy type while Kokoy is the energetic class clown type and if you put the two of them together, magic can happen. Opposites attract.”

What makes Kokoy and Elijah click with their characters?

“Coming in the series, Ash and I really took the time to develop the characters that would cater to Kokoy’s and Elijah’s strengths as actors. We tried to incorporate their personalities in the script and during production, I didn’t want them to veer too much from themselves. Having said that, the actors are really talented and very collaborative. A part of them is in the character but we found the voice of Gav and Cai separating them from the actors’ personalities,” said Direk Ivan.

You can watch “Gameboys” every Friday at 8 pm at IdeaFirst Company’s YouTube channel.

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