Of all the roles Coco Martin had to play while making the fantasy-adventure film “Ang Panday,” he said being its producer-director was the toughest.

Coco is also the lead actor and scriptwriter of this official entry in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.

Coco said scenes that seemed easy to do in the beginning turned out to be difficult and complicated during filming. “I reserved the last shooting day for what I thought would be the easiest scene to make—the one with (former senator and action star) Lito Lapid and I talking on top of the mountain. It proved to be difficult, because we had to climb up the volcano’s crater (Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga) and go down riding horses,” he recalled.

Lapid is also Coco’s costar in the top-rating Kapamilya program, “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.”

“Senator Lapid called me a sadist. He said, ‘Why can’t you just make the scenes simple and uncomplicated?’ I just smiled at him and made him see the playback—he loved it,” Coco said.

He said the hardest scene to execute involved over 300 talents. “It’s when all the aswang invaded the entire country. As a director, I was confident that things would be manageable, but as a producer, I was nervous. I kept praying for good weather,” Coco recalled.

Needless to say, it rained hard on the day of the shoot, forcing Coco to reschedule it on the following day. This meant paying all the actors two days’ worth of talent fee. “I kept computing the expenses because I said I didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of that particular scene. It still rained on the second day, but only at night. I had no choice but to continue,” he said.

Viva Films and Star Cinema later joined Coco’s CCM Films as producers. “Before I started working on the movie, I already told myself that I’d first produce it on my own.
“This was because I couldn’t be too sure that I’d be able to recoup my investment. If ever viewers wouldn’t like it, at least I’d have no one to blame but myself. I said that if others would be willing to invest in it, it’s better if they first see the finished product.”

He explained: “Viva Films came into the picture when I was negotiating for the movie rights to ‘Panday.’ And since I work for ABS-CBN, which has greatly helped boost my career, I said it was time to give back to my network bosses through this.”

Coco, the producer, said he made sure to hire the best people, including a fight director and stunt men from China, as well as the best local animators. “I admit to being nervous about the special effects. I kept thinking, ‘Will this work?’ Good thing the artists were there to patiently guide me and help me fulfill my vision.”

“This movie is an indie, in the sense that it has a very realistic feel. It’s as if you, as the audience, are actually part of what’s happening,” he explained to the Inquirer. “In terms of storytelling, it’s very mainstream since I want it to be something that all kinds of viewers will appreciate—those who enjoy action, comedy, fantasy and romance. It’s a complete package.”

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