MANILA, Philippines — There is perhaps no other local director more active in churning out movies just this pandemic than veteran megman Joel Lamangan. Notwithstanding the repeated lockdowns, direk Joel has consistently hurdled all the challenges brought about by the pandemic and delivered films that were streamed to worldwide audiences.

Since 2020, direk Joel has wrapped up nearly a dozen films to date. Last December, he looked forward to seeing his work, Deception, the reunion of erstwhile loveteam Mark Anthony Fernandez and Claudine Barretto, on the big screen. However, the film failed to make it to the lineup of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

Direk Joel felt it was simply a “blessing in disguise,” when Deception was not shown, since all the MMFF entries fared poorly at the tills. “Hindi maganda ang turnover ng MMFF,” said the award-winning director. “Hindi pa ready ang mga tao na pumasok sa sinehan sa panahon ngayon. Ako nga, tuwang tuwa ako nu’ng bagong taon dahil naka sampung pelikula na ako ngayong pandemya lang.”

Direk Joel’s latest is yet another sexy drama, Moonlight Butterfly, with a script written by Eric Ramos, who also worked with the director in the multi-awarded MMFF 2018 entry, Rainbow’s Sunset.

Moonlight Butterfly stars Christine Bermas, Kit Thompson, Albie Casino, Ivan Carapiet, Quinn Carillo and Jim Pebanco. The film starts streaming on March 18.

Christine made her big screen debut in direk Joel’s fiery sexy drama, Silab, shown last year. “I’m very happy that Christine started in my film,” declared direk Joel. “Mahusay siya. She has a great attitude. Very professional and disciplined. Sensitive na artista din siya. I can predict she will be one of the big actors that we have in the future.”

The director admitted he did not have a hard time wrapping up Moonlight Butterfly. There was no peg that he followed in the story or even the love scenes. His scenes were consistently daring.

Christine Bermas star in the veteran megman’s yet another sexy drama Moonlight Butterfly.

Photos from artists’ Instagram account

“Wala akong iniisip na impluwensiya,” direk Joel stressed. “No pattern at wala din akong ginaya. What the script demands, that is what I do. My stars were all daring in this film. Halos makita na ang kaluluwa. But they did everything perfectly nice.

“Maganda, dramatic, mahusay at alam kong hindi sila napipilitan sa ginagawa nila dahil kilala nila ang character nila. At alam nilang lahat ng ginagawa nila, kailangan sa pelikula.”

Direk Joel cannot be any thankful that Moonlight Butterfly was finally done. “I’m so happy that Moonlight Butterfly is here,” the director offered. “This is a really good drama about the relationship of two people, pag-ibig ng kanyang pamilya, pag-ibig sa kanyang boyfriend, pag-ibig sa bayan.

“Mahuhusay ang mga artista ko dito sa Moonlight Butterfly. I would like people to see them. Maganda ang peliluka dahil sa kahusayan nila. Kakaiba ito dahil this is not an ordinary love story.

“Maganda ang pagkakasulat ni Eric Ramos. He’s the writer and he was the one who thought about Moonlight Butterfly. Nagandahan naman ako and I told him, ‘Sige, ‘yan na ang ating title’ dahil bagay naman talaga sa pelikula.”

Direk Joel refused to admit he is a “terror” megman who constantly sow fear among his cast.

“I just become a terror to those who are not responsible and do not fulfill their duties as actors in the film,” he clarified. “Those who don’t know what they’re doing or refuse to know what they are doing.

“Galit ako sa palaging late or those who make people wait, parang si Queen Elizabeth. I’d really reprimand them and correct their attitude. Lalo na ang mga artistang masama ang pagtingin sa maliliit na trabahador sa pelikula.

“Ayaw na ayaw ko noon. Talagang sinasabihan ko sila. That’s why I’ve been called terror because I’ve been telling actors what they should not be doing. Maybe that’s why they’re angry. Kapag ang artista ay preparado at alam naman nila ang kanilang ginagawa, kapag may mga tanong sila sa akin bago nila gawin ang eksena, wala naman silang maririnig sa akin.

Kit Thompson star in the veteran megman’s yet another sexy drama Moonlight Butterfly.

Photos from artists’ Instagram account

“Tutulungan ko pa sila na magawa nila ang dapat. Sa tagal ko na sa industriyang ito, marami na ang nagalit sa aking artista dahil sinasabihan ko sila ang dapat nilang ginagawa. Kung walang nagsabi sa kanila, walang magtuturo sa kanila ng tama.”

Direk Joel insisted it is easier to mold a new actor since they still don’t have any preconceived notion about what to do. “You can easily tell them what to do and suggest anything,” he explained.

“Sa veterans na may tatak na ang kanilang acting, minsan may kahirapan na baguhin ito. ‘Yung konsepto na kanilang ini-isip sa tamang pag-acting. Kaya minsan mas gusto kong makatrabaho ang baguhan. Pero masarap din ang senior and junior actors together in a movie because they learn from each other.”

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