THE MAKING OF ‘THE GIFTED’ ACCORDING TO DIREK CHRIS MARTINEZ
by Pablo A. Tariman
Direk Chris Martinez says he started work on “The Gifted” by doing research on gifted children and what they go through as they evolve from child geniuses to young adults.
But before he was tempted to write about brilliant minds, he thought he could make light of the subject by employing the tools of black comedy and make the film more entertaining and appealing to wider audiences.
“So I came up with this story of two talented but oversized girls (Anne Curtis and Cristine Reyes) always competing for the top honors and ending fighting for love of the same man (Sam Milby). From those interviews, I found out that talented children have early mindset on what they want to achieve in life which is mainly how to be number one. The pressure to be on top is bad enough but with parents’ intervention adding to the pressure, you can imagine how brilliant minds end up warped during their childhood. But as rule, I can see that they lead a fairly happy life and well-adjusted one. But it is the expectations that further add to the pressure of aiming for the top honors.”
To be sure, some good films have emerged from the stories of gifted children.
A good example is “Shine” which is based on a true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott with the actor Geoffrey Rush winning the Oscar best actor trophy.
There is “Billy Elliot” which is about a ballet genius frustrated by his father who wanted him to be a boxer.
The Dustin Hoffman-starrer, “The Rain Man” is based on a real life savant named Kim Peek who can read two pages of a book in about ten second with his left eye.
When Direk Martinez found out he would be working with Curtis, Reyes and Milby, he was excited for the simple reason that he will be dealing with an ensemble of actors who have good chemistry. “I saw Anne and Cristine in ‘The Other Woman’ and liked what I saw. The humor in ‘The Gifted’ is not the slapstick variety but more of black comedy. So I need good actors who can read between the lines and can emote with 300-pound prosthetics in the beginning of the film. Happily, they all delivered. I’d often stay away from the monitor after a good take and realized they actually surprised me with good acting required by black comedy.”
Sam. Anne and Cristine agree the real gifted one in the film is Direk Chris who also wrote the script and the screenplay.
Happily, the screen writer can wear two hats with aplomb.
Rues he: “Directing and writing are two different animals. As a writer, I try to be very concise and detailed about the script. Everything has to be there. When I direct, I try to separate myself from being a writer. As a director, you aim for a more visual result rather than too many dialogues. As a director, I go beyond the output of the writer. You are concerned with how to make the film more interesting and how to make it visually appealing as well. It’s like having two persons in one human being.”
Martinez likes to think his cast is gifted in their own ways.
He sees truth in how Cristine emotes and how Anne defines a moment by just being herself. He has appreciation for the versatility of Sam.
Anne likes to think he has a gift for speed reading.
“I grew up loving all kinds of challenges,” she says. “I was never pushed and I have the full support of my parents.”
To illustrate, she read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book trilogy in three days and Colleen McCullough’s “The Thorn Birds” in two days.
Both the director and the cast agree there are better ways of handling gifted children.
Sam thinks the pressure to be number one often leads to miserable lives. “My own opinion on the subject is that you don’t have to be number one all the time. There is nothing wrong with being number two or three for as long as you are happy with what you have. Let’s face it, some people are more talented than the others. You get negative results if you push them too much.”
Direk Martinez adds his own two cents on the subject.
“I guess the pressure comes from what society expects from gifted people. As a rule, they want a complete package. If you are beautiful and fairly talented, well and good. If you are just talented without the good looks, expect people not to be so fond of you.”
For now, the members of the cast recall their best gift of all.
Sam says his most memorable gift was the guitar bought by his sister. “I like performing in a band but since I thought I could not sing, I turned to that guitar and was happy with it.
Anne’s unforgettable gift was also a guitar she received when she was just four years old. “That guitar was a sign I’d be into entertainment when I grew up and look where I am now.”
Concludes Cristine: “The greatest gift I received was the gift of a second life after Typhoon Ondoy. I still consider it a miracle I am still alive.”
“The Gifted” directed by Chris Martinez opens in all theaters September 3.