DIREK JOEL LAMANGAN AND ACTOR ANDRE PARAS ON THEIR RESPECTIVE GENERATIONS
by Pablo A. Tariman
Direk Joel Lamangan’s film output comes to mind as another overseas worker, Mary Jane Veloso, finds herself nearly at the end of her short and unhappy life in an Indonesian island prison.
A reprieve saved her life for the moment.
The director happened to meg two landmark films about overseas workers such as The Flor Contemplacion Story and the Sarah Balabagan Story, among others.
Those films came direct from those years’ jolting headlines and it made Lamangan one of the worthy exponents of films with heavy socio-political message for the polite society.
In this presscon before the release of his latest film, Your Place or Mine?opening April 29, direk Joel sums up his evolution in the film world.
“I guess I have spent some 25 years in showbiz as director and before that, I was a bit actor fighting Lito Lapid or killing Bembol Roco in some actions films,” said he.
Those were years when his social advocacy image gets rattled with unlikely assignments like Darna. It was his only chance to bring on screen some stories direct from the pages of well-patronized comics of that generation.
Those were the best of times and sometimes the worst of the bizarre times in showbiz.
Now he finds himself touching materials not from the day’s headlines or a favorite comics serial but from the source of insipid literature of the young generation – the Wattpad.
From the generation of Christopher de Leon and Boots Anson Roa, direk Joel is right smack into the pit of the new generation whose means of communications range from iphone, hash tag to Instagram.
Indeed the challenge came when he least expected it.
He has to deal with the new generation, he has to deal with authors known as “turning_japanese” and he has to be a good observant of changing lifestyles in the areas of love, sex and marriage.
Opines he: “These young actors obviously belong to another generation that I need to be comfortable with because I am working with them with new assignments coming in. In my time, I couldn’t deliver the line ‘Your place or mine?’ because I don’t even have a place of my own. Now you just have to change your perception and adjust it to what is going on now. For one, the comics stories are gone. The gold mines in showbiz now are stories from Wattpad with authors carrying names like ‘turning underscore Japanese.’ To be able to handle this material, I just have to accept the new reality and the new lifestyle of the young and not so famous. You can’t change the story but you can enhance its cinematic appeal.”
He has only respect for today’s breed of young actors.
Direk Joel adds: “The members of today’s generation are more daring indeed. The usual rituals for courtship are gone and in just one meeting at the bar, they cap the night with ‘Your place or mine?’. The spirit of romance is no longer there but they are honest, straight forward, intelligent and very assertive.”
Indeed, for a director to survive transitions in showbiz, he has to do one thing or the other and just blend with the new culture.
He expounds: “It comes without saying that you have to adjust your directing approach to what the Wattpad story dictates. When I first read the story, I told myself I have to adjust or I perish. After all, a director is just as good as his last output. What you should accept is that times are changing and the so are the means of expressions and manner of telling a story. Ang director ay dapat umagapay sa takbo ng panahon. Forget the comics era, tune in to Wattpad and what it has to offer. You can learn many things even from what many consider as low class literature. That the young are drawn to Wattpad stories and obviously enjoying them means you have to go with the flow.”
Said Andre Paras who also stars in “Your Place or Mine?”: “Obviously my father and I are tied by common love for basketball with our common build and height. But I am also interested in other things. I want to explore the music of my generation, I want to meet other people who make news in the field of entertainment and my work as VJ enabled me to do all that. When Dad was my age (18), he was only into basketball and turned to showbiz later.”
Asked how he describes his generation, Andre expounds: “We are obviously up-to-date with the latest technology and with the latest trends. My Dad’s generation is probably not keen on this but ours is more aggressive. I have no regrets that we were born this way. I guess we are in a position to help our parents better when we are abreast with the latest and we share it with people. That’s the way we are.”
Andre Paras took a sports-oriented course at the UP and is deeply keen on taking film-making. “Filmmaking will allow me to express something about what I see in people. I naturally love people, how they act, how they smile. I am drawn to how they express themselves when watching something. Through the movies, I hope to share my love for films with everyone.”
For now, direk Joel realizes that it pays to be a good observant of the changing lifestyles in the areas of love, sex and marriage. “I manage to enjoy the challenge,” added.
There was a time he could feel the generation gap closing in on the set. But he took the challenge and he emerged a better observant of today’s generation.
“Your Place or Mine?” starring Andi Eigenmann, Bret Jackson and Andre Paras opened last April 29.