My rebellion stage peaked when I was 11 and in fifth grade at Colegio San Augstin, Makati. And when I say rebellion, please do take it lightly. The most “rebellious” I got was eating in class, passing notes, and making fun of teachers with my favorite partner in crime, “Syfu”.
Teachers told us (are they even allowed to say this) that our future would never amount to anything. My parents moved me out of CSA two years after, however, thanks to technology I have managed to keep in touch with old friends, including Syfu, who now goes by the name Krizzie “Kriz” Syfu.
Not only is my best girl pal a real girl now (haha), but also an up and coming director, and not just a director of any kind, but one trained well under the premiered Erik Matti. I’ve always known Syfu (please allow me to still call you that) as feisty, determined, and relentless. Turns out, it was these qualities what made her rise through the ranks under the mentorship of Erik Matti. She went from becoming a script continuity assistant director, to second unit director, post producer, associate producer for critically acclaimed films like the Cannes famed On the Job, Rigodon, and The Aswang Chronicles to an advertising director. The most recent she did was the Jollibee “Bakit Sarap Maging Pilipino” ad.
When asked what made her pursue this, she was quick to say, “Looking back, I can tell it has always been what I wanted to do. Even when I was in first grade, I was already the one leading stage plays and performances. It felt very natural for me to lead a group and come up with some form of entertainment. I have also loved watching movies and always had a video camera with me.”
Syfu beat the odds, like she always has, by becoming a director fresh out of college. She says that this was the time that she truly honed not just her skills but her character as well.
She explained, “There are pros of becoming a director fresh out of college—you get to learn from your own mistakes and get your name out there right away; but I’d like to believe that the best way to do it is still to learn from the best.”
She continued, “Some sushi chefs wait 10 years to make their first sushi—there’s a certain charm of going through the ranks and earning your way up. Personally, I believe the most important thing that apprenticeship did to me is this: it killed my ego from the onset, and then there was only room for learning.”
She was also quick to note that her naïve perception of film making in the country was quashed instantly. “I used to think that being a filmmaker in the Philippines was to live like a starving artist—I was very naïve. I don’t even know where I got that idea but mind you, I did start that way. I guess it pays to have an idol; it puts things in perspective and it helps one set a goal,” she elaborated.
“In my case, it was again my mentor, Erik Matti, who excels in both the TV Commercial world and in making movies, who made me think that one can make a career out of directing. He juggled TV Commercials and internationally acclaimed movies together, I guess it made me think that it can be done,” she added.
When asked how she is able to keep her head above water, especially in her dog eat dog industry, she answered, “It’s being with my family of Revolver Studios and Shoestring Productions. Since I’m the only female director and one of the youngest in the roster, I would sometimes feel unsure of what I do, but I always just need to ask the veteran directors in the roster and they generously give me advice aside from my mentor. It helps me stay in the business despite the long hours and crazy schedules, specifically because even if the industry is in itself cutthroat, it’s really good to be in the comfort of family.”
Kriz was also excited to share what she loved most about her job. “My passion is filmmaking. I love seeing visual stories unfold. I love being able to see how simple elements come together to form an image in a frame. I love entertaining, and getting people to react—be it laughter, tears—or even just to remember. I love working with people who are equally passionate about showing and not just telling stories—those who can’t sleep the night before a shoot.
“I love feelings—feelings after watching something for the first time or even in watching something over and over. My passion is making movies or even just short sequences that could feel like it’s a story worth showing. My passion is also watching them. I guess I’ll forever be part of that big audience,” she related.
It’s always a great feeling to see old friends succeed, but more than that, it’s refreshing to see people from our generation stand up, create, and contribute. People like Kriz who live out of their passion truly make all the difference in the world.