Filmmaker Paul Soriano is still unable to escape the infidelity issue involving actress Erich Gonzales, which had partially overshadowed his entry “Siargao” to the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Soriano won Best Director for his work on the modern day drama, which besides Gonzales stars Jericho Rosales and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.
Soriano, who married actress-host Toni Gonzaga in 2015, spent six weeks in the famed surfing destination to film the movie. Back then, there were rumors that even as other cast members would take the opportunity to return to Manila in between shooting schedules, Gonzales and Soriano were among those who chose to stay for the stretch. Occasionally spotted lunching together on the island, the infidelity issue started rolling.
“I think it’s [the rumors]just part of the industry. It’s the unfortunate part of the industry that you just have to accept. At the end of the day naman, I am focused and my objective was to make a film and tell a story, nothing else. That’s just what it is,” Soriano reacted during a thanksgiving press conference on January 4 in Quezon City.
In past interviews, the 36-year-old shared that it is normal practice for him to have lunch with cast members while working on a film and did so with Rosales many times as well. He pointed out a similar kind of rumor also unfolded when he shot the movie “Thelma” in Ilocos Norte with Maja Salvador in 2011.
Despite the controversies, Soriano is overwhelmed by the success of his first foray into the MMFF, which earned him and his team seven major awards. Besides the Best Director plum, Siargao won Second Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Theme Song and Best Sound.
“It was really a happy New Year for me. My past films have been very niche. From 40 cinemas in the first two days of the festival, after we won the awards, we had more than 150 moviehouses,” he shared.
“Now I can say that I can really make a film for a bigger audience, especially the MMFF, which is technically the biggest audience of the year. And then when we did well with the awards and picked up in the box office… it just shows na kaya ko. Now, I am inspired to make more stories,” he said.
Moreover, Soriano was able to cull an important insight during the entire MMFF process.
“If there’s one thing that this festival has really taught me it’s that not everybody is going to like what you make and not everyone is going to appreciate what you made.
“In every film that I do, I know I cannot please everyone. Even the greatest directors get a lot of bad reviews. But what I like is the discourse a bad review creates. So yung mga bad reviews I read them, because they have some points I can learn from. The positive reviews naman, it inspires me to do more, and as a filmmaker it really is fulfilling.”
Looking forward Soriano said there is lot on his plate for 2018 but he will be more careful pursuing them coming from the success of Siargao. He said that he wants to make sure to ride this kind of momentum for his next movie.
Soriano disclosed that his production TEN17P is planning to make a movie for his wife Toni and her sister Alex Gonzaga.
“Sisters concept and pang-pamilya of course within the brand of Toni and Alex Gonzaga. In terms of who is directing, we don’t know yet but I’ve always told my wife I want to produce a movie for her,” Soriano continued.
The director further shared he is developing a script for movie starring Aga Muhlach and Bea Alonzo to be co-produced by Star Cinema.
“It’s been a dream of mine to work with Aga ever since my father (Jeric Soriano) shot him in ‘Hotshots,’ I think in 1983 or 1984. It was the first Filipino film that I watched as a child. Betamax pa ‘yan!” he laughed.
“Of course, Aga has been a family friend growing up. He was also ninong at our wedding. We’ve kept in touch, and what’s nice with Aga honestly is, this is like my fourth concept we pitched to him. He says no even if you are friends and he’d say, ‘Paul walang personalan pero hindi ko type yung concept.’ So we try again. This time parang I got it. Okay siya and we were able to get Bea’s approval as well.”
Work is still in progress for the script, which Soriano describes will be a heavy drama compared to Siargao’s light storyline.
Finally asked where the film will be shot, the director who is clearly inspired by locations said, “It’s going to be shot abroad – completely shot abroad. Let’s say North America.”