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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 10, 2022



                         DIREK JOEY REYES with actors Mig Almendras and Rolando Inocencio

WRITER-DIRECTOR JOEY REYES is now making his first mini-series for Vivamax, “Katawang Lupa”, which will have four episodes and the first one is aimed to air on September 25. 

This is his second project with them after the movie, “Secrets”. What convinced him to do a series?

“So many changes have happened because of the pandemic and you have to accept, learn to adjust to the changing times. 

"Nag-iba na ang platforms, ang viewing habits ng mga tao, and you cannot just be a dinosaur, you have to face the challenge and adjust to streaming.”  

“Katawang Lupa” is about people having two sides and it aims to show this duality. 

Leading the cast is Janelle Tee, a murder victim and as cops investigate her case, people will be shocked as it turns out that she’s leading a very colorful and controversial  double life. 

Also in the cast are Rob Guinto, Migs Almendras, Micaella Raz, Azi Acosta, CJ Jaravata, Rolando Inocencio, Guji Lorenzana, Axel Torres, Greg Hawkins and Nicco Loco. We notice most of them are new actors.

“Yes,” says Direk Joey. “Viva gave them to me and I’m so excited to work with these new actors and to find out what i can do with them. 

"I’m sure we can collaborate and I can challenge them to get into their role. Dito lumalabas yung pagka-teacher ko. They learn from them but I also learn from them.”  

How did he prepare to do projects for Vivamax? 

“I watched a lot of their films to find out what their audiences like. Nagulat yung mga artista ko rito when I told them I saw their past works in Vivamax. 

"I’m now exploring the language of streaming and I’m happy that it gives me the opportunity to do the stories I cannot do before.”

In mainstream movies, filmmakers have to play it safe as they know their works will be scrutinized by the MTRCB. But with a streaming platform, there are no such constraints. 

“Like itong ‘Katawang Lupa’ and the duality in people, matagal na ang material na ito sa akin, but alam ko hindi ko magagawa sa mainstream because of it’s very mature theme. 

"So I’m glad that Vivamax has opened new opportunities for stories you cannot do for any other platform. 

"We should really be thankful to them kasi sa panahon ngayong down ang industry, sila lang ang patuloy na nagbibigay ng trabaho sa maraming tao.”   

How will he handle his sexy scenes? 

“Viewers look for titillating mature scenes in Vivamax movies and shows, part yun ng branding nila. Ako, I follow three rules in doing sexy scenes. 

"First, they should be organic sa kuwento. Hindi yung basta bigla na lang nagsalputkan sa kama ang dalawang tao. 

“Second, they should be beautifully shot. Sex is something beautiful and gagamitin ko ang kamera to capture that in the scene. 

'Third, importante ang respeto sa artista. Even if you ask them to do very mature, controversial scenes, you always should give them respect as they’re using their bodies as instruments to forward the story.” 

What can he say about Tirso Cruz III being the new FDCP Chair? 

“Alam naman natin ang kalagayan ng pelikulang Pilipino ngayon. Nanonood lang ang tao sa sinehan kapag big Hollywood movie like ‘Top Gun’ or ‘Thor’, not for local movie. 

"But I’m very positive, I’m confident that Tirso will be able to continue to do the good projs of LIza Dino and add also his own vision to help the industry survive.  

"We’re all praying na sana, sa darating na Metro-Manila filmfest, bumalik na ang mga tao sa sinehan. 

"But sa hirap ng buhay ngayon, are our people financially equipped to watch Filipino movies in moviehouses?"

He says this is where government can help. 

“Ang unang makakatulong sa producers is giving the industry a tax holiday. Kasi we are the most taxed film industry in the world. 

"Sana rin, magkahimala at alisin muna ang amusement tax ng LGUs. Do you know na sa bawat P100 na binabayad sa sinehan, producers get only P30 at magbabayad pa siya ng vat from that. 

"So, yan ang unang dapat harapin if they really want to help the local film industry.”  

He says his movie “Secrets” and this series “Katawang Lupa” signal the start of his collaboration with Vivamax. 

“I will do projects with them not only as a writer-director, but also as a line producer.  

"I will help new filmmakers start their projects with Viva. Iba na ang panlasa ng audiences ngayon so we should discover new directors to keep up with the times.”   

Joey is turning 68 this October. He has an impressive body of work as a writer and director, and he is also a much respected academician. 

As a writer, he did the award-winning “Oro Plata Mata” and on TV, the long running hit sitcoms “Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata” and “Palibhasa Lalake”. He also wrote many stand up comedy acts and concerts. 

As a real auteur who writes and directs his own films, he did acclaimed, memorable, feel good films like “May Minamahal”, “Batang PX”, “Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin”, “Iisa Pa Lamang”, “Pare Ko”, “Radio Romance”, "Minsan May Isang Puso", “Kung Ako na Lang Sana” and “Kasal Kasali Kasalo”. 

Now, tell me, are these credentials not enough for him to be named a future National Artist. And obviously, he has no plans of slowing down. 

“None, I plan to outlive my mom who passed at 101,” he says. Well, sana naman, they do not wait for him to be a centenarian before they name him a National Artist!