A cheering applause greeted the showing of the trailer of Coco Martin’s directorial debut, “Ang Panday” which is based on the Carlo Caparas story franchise.

A distinct visual style is a feast to the eyes, but the uncommon touch is that the film travels effortlessly from fantasy to present-day reality. “I wanted this film to be in touch with present day life even if it is commonly associated with fantasy. I worked closely with my writer and I felt the project is better off with that personal concept which is strictly my idea. Everything has to be real. There are enough scenes that will thrill the kids, but I also made sure the adult moviegoers can connect as well.”

Still, he admits he does not know how to react when addressed as Direk Coco Martin.

More confessions: “Nothing came easy in this project and to top it all, I wore three hats as producer, director and actor. In the first, I am constantly signing checks to cover production expenses. In the second, I have to see to it the needs of the cast are taken cared of. Then I have to think about my role and relate to the rest of the characters. Then it just dawned on me, ‘Ganito pala kahirap magdirek at mag produce.’”

But he points out that when you are passionate about what you are doing, the difficulties are easy to overcome. “I don’t treat this latest film as plain and simple work. My heart is in it and so is my hard-earned money. I aim to produce something that will sit well with my audiences and not just to be treated as another blockbuster. I want a film that moviegoers can claim as their own after it hit the theaters. That is my idea of fulfillment as a director and not just to make money.”

The actor said his directorial work was made easy with good people working around him. “Many years while working with Direk Dante Brillante, I realized I wanted to become a director later in my career. So, in every movie I did whether indie or mainstream, I observed people around me and find out how they contribute to the finished product. Of course, directing is a totally different work. But what made it easy was the people who are more than willing to give me endless support. I could feel the love as well the trust and respect in the set. They were all that I needed to keep me going as director. When I am not sure about one thing, I consult them like part of family. Tita Susan (Roces) was always behind me with some reminders. The children in the cast also contributed a lot. They have become good actors through the months of working with them in a teleserye. Of course, I forbid playing during the shoot. But after the take, they can do what they want.”

It was a big surprise that he realized his leading lady, Mariel de Leon, can actually act. “During the negotiation, I actually asked Tito Boyet (Christopher de Leon) and Tita Sandy (Sandy Andolong) if they can entrust their daughter to me in this project. They were very supportive. During the actual shoot, I realized Mariel needed very little coaching. She delivered like a real pro.”

On the whole, Direk Coco said he gave all he could to make this project really worthy the moviegoers’ time and money. “I did not go into this project to make me feel good as director. I did every frame of this film with the movie audiences in mind. They keep me grounded when I report to the set. I wanted to make sure everyone can relate and to have a good time in the theater. What they will see in my film is the sincerity and the desire to project the Filipino family as a fountain of inspiration in good or bad times.”

“Ang Panday” directed by Coco Martin opens in cinemas December 25. It stars Jaime Fabregas, Gloria Romero, Julio Diaz, Elisse Joson, McCoy de Leon and Awra Briguela, among others.

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