Flights of Fantasy: An Interview With Mark Reyes

In 2007 Mark Reyes made the science-fiction action movie Resiklo and the horror-fantasy Tiyanaks. He has also directed some of the most popular fantasy TV series on Philippine television.

Jessica Zafra: You've expressed disappointment about the box-office performance of Resiklo.

Mark Reyes: The Filipino audience is so mercurial in terms of taste. You think you have a surefire hit, then no one shows up to watch it. In the case of Resiklo,
it was very commercial and we worked very hard to give the audience a "world class" movie in terms of production values, but the public didn't buy it. It's critically acclaimed, but at the end of the day, what
counts is the box-office. How can we encourage producers like Senator Bong Revilla to shell out money to produce a film that can compete internationally, but will bomb locally?

JZ: What kind of future do you see for Philippine filmmakers?

MR: The only silver lining I see right now for Philippine cinema is the crop of indie filmmakers.  If you do a count, you'll realize that there are more indie films then mainstream or commercial films being made right now. So I hope the indie directors, writers and producers keep doing what they are doing. Hopefully, the Filipino audience's cinematic sensibilities will mature and we will really develop a culture that embraces the cinema as an art form. One that not only entertains, but also helps shape and eventually define this nation's identity.

JZ: Is Resiklo something you've always wanted to do?

MR: It was one of the geeky ideas that I just had to get out of my system. I actually did a pitch tape shot on video that I used to sell the concept to potential producers. Senator Revilla saw it and immediately wanted to do it. Resiklo is my "end of the world" scenario movie. I guess all directors who are into the fantasy and sci-fi genre want to have a crack at the big Armageddon-Star Wars type of film. I'm just thankful that I've had my chance. It was nice feeling like Steven Spielberg or George Luca or Peter Jackson while doing the film. In a Third World way, of course -- especially in the salary department.

JZ: You've done several fantasy-action TV series. Are there special challenges to making digital-effects movies in Manila?

MR: If you've seen Resiklo, you know that Filipino-made special effects can be at par with the special visual effects of Hollywood. Given more time and a bigger budget, we can compete with the rest of the world. So the main challenge for me is in convincing the producers to spend a little more on the special effects.

JZ: Do you have different considerations in mind when you make a movie for the Metro Manila Film Festival?

MR: If it’s for the film festival, the movie has to be more commercial and cater to all demographics. From the kids up to the grannies, you have to entice the audience to watch your film. You have to persuade them to spend their limited Christmas money on your film rather than the others.
Jessica Zafra