Manila Bulletin

FLANKED BY THE FINEST: Humbly admitting he didn’t take formal studies in filmmaking, Coco Martin says he surrounded himself with good people to see him through his debut as director.

Coco uses his real name, Rodel Nacianceno, in the title credits of his first film, “Ang Panday,” produced by his own CCM Productions, Viva Films and Star Cinema.

The veteran actor and TV superstar has tapped only the best technical and support staff in his first attempt at being director. Not to mention, a reputable cast composed of only the finest.

Think Lito Lapid, Eddie Garcia, Gloria Romero, Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Jeric Raval, Dimples Romana, Jaime Fabregas, Albert Martinez, Agot Isidro, Carmi Martin, among so many others.

LEARNING FROM THE MASTERS: Coco considers his years as an actor in indie films a form of schooling. Mentored by Cannes winner Brillante Mendoza from his teen years, he has always shown keen interest in what happens on the set and how a director’s mind works.

“But I didn’t realize it was all this difficult pagdating na sa actual,” he half-complained.

He said he found being a movie producer the most difficult task on top of being actor and director. He refused to say when he’d make his second film.

Coco works with eight child actors, a huge supporting cast, mostly named actors all, and 300 extras cast as aswang in a number of crowd scenes.

Looking back, he considers his years as an indie actor his formative years. He jokes that he’s a graduate of indie university.

THE FPJ INFLUENCE: The “Ang Probinsyano” star doesn’t deny the late movie king, Fernando Poe, Jr., has had much impact on him.

It probably all started when he took on the “Probinsyano” role, an opportunity for him to learn more about the ways of FPJ, his vision for the film industry, his generosity to small co-workers, etc.

It also helped that FPJ’s widow, Susan Roces, who plays his lola in the long-running series, has shared with him many insights on the man. Coco shares a close affinity with the ’60s movie queen, his co-star in the long-running series.

We noted that Coco has even inherited FPJ’s style in casting beauty queens as his leading ladies.

For “Ang Panday,” the actor-director invited Bb. Pilipinas International Mariel de Leon and Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Kylie Versoza as his screen partners. Mariel plays his love interest, Kylie the fairy in the film’s fantasy part.

“Ang Panday,” created by Carlo Caparas, and now into its nth retelling on screen, opens Dec. 25 together with seven other official entries to the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.

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