Filmmaker Brillante Mendoza is living proof that it's never too late to do the thing you love most and succeed.
His whole career before film was spent in production design and advertising. Although then, he already had a picture of what the industry is like, but it wasn't until he was 45 when he tried his hand on actually directing his own film. Thus, his first full-length Masahista which catapulted him to indie world recognition.
[related: Hot Stuff: Brillante Mendoza Makes It to Cannes for the Fourth Time!]
Several films later, he's still one of the most respected names in the field. Just recently, we've witnessed how through his film, Ma'Rosa, Jaclyn Jose able to snag the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival 2016.
[related: Hot Stuff: Good Vibes All Around as Jaclyn Jose Wins Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival]
What makes Brillante's films worthy of recognition is how he executes the portrayal of reality—with deeper meaning besides the focal point of his masterpieces. He shares, "Kada film kasi may iba't ibang issue. Halimbawa 'yung sa Lola, ang istorya kasi dito, hindi lang siya 'yung ignorance of the law, there's also justice. Kumbaga, depende yan sa status sa buhay. Kapag mahirap ka, exploited ka. Kapag mayaman ka, hindi ka pwede i-exploit. Something like that. Pero ang totoo, kwento lang naman talaga siya ng matanda na naghahanap ng pamburol at pang-libing ng kanyang apo. But when you look at it deeply, may malalim siyang gustong sabihin."
In honor of his great contribution to the Filipino culture and arts, the Metropolitan Museum, in partnership with SM Malls, put up the Brillante Mendoza: A Contemporary Filipino Filmmaker exhibit until October 1, which features moving flashes of the director's works and modern and vintage film equipment as flashback to the old forms of filmmaking.
Indeed, he's blessed with a brilliant mind and eye for award-winning films, and he's a great person to look up to, especially for aspiring talents out there. How does Brillante work his magic? Here are some of his tips on how to survive in the film industry:
1. Focus on the content. "Ako kasi, I always focus on the story—meaningful siya hindi dahil sa pagiging personal niya kundi dahil may issue, nakakaapekto siya sa sambayanan, sa mga tao and it becomes bigger. Something na when it becomes bigger, pinag-uusapan siya, and kapag pinag-uusapan siya, may discourse. Ibig sabihin, merong communication between individuals. When you talk about the issue in your film, you should get affected in a positive way, 'yung hindi ka lang na-e-entertain. Maaaring mababagabag ka, mapapag-iisip ka. Importante 'yun."
2. Get your creative juices flowing in all aspects. "Namomroblema kami sa budget, kung paano siya pagkakasyahin. But at the end of the day, there's always a way of doing better. Kapag ganun, doon lumalabas 'yung creative juices ko, ginagawan talaga ng paraan."
3. Always have Plan B. "In real life, hindi naman talaga nangyayari yung pinaplano natin. Kapag may hindi talaga pwede, may back-up plan na ako."
4. Trust your instincts. "Nai-inspire ako sa mga kwentong totoo, kapag may naririnig ako o nararamdaman. Actually, it's more of my insticts kapag meron akong nakita, naisip, naramdaman, I always get inspired with it."
5. Get personal. "Lahat ng films ko, I cannot take away myself from what I do. Somehow dapat maging parte ako nun."
6. Feel the passion. "Dapat sensitive ang isang filmmaker, spontaneous, hindi lang sa magagandang bagay pati rin sa hindi magagandang bagay. Maa-identify mo naman kung walang puso 'yun, polished lang pero wala kang mararamdaman. Kasi ang filmmaker, dapat nararamdaman niya ang ginagawa niya."
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Photograph from Instagram.com/brillante_mendoza