Film Notes
by Pablo A. Tariman

In this noontime presscon in the company of the cast of his latest movie, Wang Fam, Direk Wenn Deramas is as usual self-assured and ready for questions that come in all shapes and sizes.

Direk Wenn Deramas in black and white. Years of struggles taught him how to see comedy in a deeper light.

Direk Wenn Deramas in black and white. Years of struggles taught him how to see comedy in a deeper light.

The curious ones would ask about the status of his love life, others would ask how he survived some members of the cast and their usual self-concocted shenanigans (all eyes are on the baby-faced Alonzo Muchlach who is already at home with adult jokes) and in general, how he deals with comedy this time wrapped with horror ingredients.

For a start, he says he has to wait for quite a while before he could complete the cast.

He explains: “I believe in good timing. I cannot imagine this film without the presence of Pokwang so I had to wait till she is free to work with us. It’s easy to tie up comic sequences with her around. She has a way of blending with the comedy ensemble and she has a new way of contributing new ideas that will make new situations work.”

Pokwang reciprocates by saying her respect for Direk Wenn has risen many times over for many reasons. “As director, he knows where you are effective and where you can be at your best. If you are in doubt, he will guide you until you get the sequence right. Working with him makes you regain your confidence as a comedian. Because, sa totoo lang, mahirap din magpatawa (truth to tell, it’s hard to pull off comedy).”

If the trailer of “Wang Fam” is of any indication, it shows great wacky signs that the latest Wenn Deramas horror-comedy is going to be a riot in the box office.

In this film, he is dealing with a family ensemble hovering between human and inhuman forms and come hard times, they discuss whether they can have one member of the family for dinner.

Alonzo Muchlach provides the touch of innocence and gamely answers questions also in character with deep devouring eyes.

Deramas says the joy of directing is dealing with a versatile cast. “After working with them for some time, they know what I wanted from them and the result that I want. Almost always, Benjie Paras requires only one take. And so with Pokwang. For that reason, I consider her the eternal beauty of comedy.”

Direk Wenn Deramas with cast of Wang Fam. The joy of directing is in the versatile cast.

Direk Wenn Deramas with cast of Wang Fam. The joy of directing is in the versatile cast.

After directing several blockbuster comedies, Direk Deramas told me he can do comedy even in his sleep. But combining the project with elements of horror is another story.”Initially, I learned the basic of horror movie in my Maria Leonora’ project. In both genres, I always see to it that the mood of the moment is reflected on the set. If it’s horror time, I play horror music on the set. But comedy for me is not just making people laugh. It’s quite easy on the surface. But in my brand of comedy, I strive to show one with a hint of pain. I think all faces of comedy have elements of sadness. Without pain, comedy would seem empty and pointless.”

Looking back, it seems ironic that Deramas can excel in comedy when his real life is its exact opposite. His father left the family when he was only six months old and he grew up with the image of my mother who worked hard to send five children to school on her own. He was the youngest. Every time he was shooting a scene from Tanging Ina, he felt the presence of his mother in it.

He confided earlier: “ Doon ko talaga hinugot sa mother ko ang character ng Tanging Ina. I grew up without a father and didn’t miss having one. Be that as it may, I’d say I did have a happy childhood. Now I am having a hard time doing a story revolving around fathers. If you notice, the male characters in my soap operas are the weak kind. Probably because I didn’t have a model of a strong father in real life.”

But there was also nothing in direk Wenn’s academic background that would prepare him for film work.

He finished a Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Santo Tomas but ended up as production assistant and scriptwriter, the executive producer, of some TV and film productions of ABS-CBN and Star Cinema.

The grateful son once spoke in the image of his mother.

“Now that I am finally earning, my focus is on my family. We didn’t have much, we struggle all the time but we survived. Sabi ko, it’s about time my family deserved something better. Palagay ko tama na yong paghihirap.”

That background probably helped him understand comedy in a deeper light.

Poster of 'Wang Fam.'

Poster of ‘Wang Fam.’

“Indeed, it is amazing that I can make people laugh while my early years were full of sorrowful struggles fit for teleserye. Kaya kung nadapa ka, kailangan marunong kang tumindig at tawanan ang nangyari sayo (when you fall, you have to learn how to get up and laugh your pains away).”

As the director parts with that line, I suddenly remember the lyrics of a Teddy Randazzo 60s song —

I laugh, with tears in my eyes
Like a clown, I wear a disguise
Can’t let you know,
I love you so,
You love someone else, so on with the show

That’s the way of a clown

Direk Deramas’ “Wang Fam” opens in all theaters November 18. It stars, among others, Joey Paras, Benjie Paras, Andre Paras, Yassi Pressman and Alonzo Muhlach.

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