Culture

Attention Seeker: Director Gino Santos Breaks Away From Conventional Cinema

Driven by purpose, the young filmmaker crafts stories from bleak realities.
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Creating a niche through films with themes that would either raise an eyebrow or make the uninitiated blush, Gino M. Santos has certainly caught our attention.

Santos’s most recent film, Sin Island, is an erotic thriller that unclasps a chain of extramarital transgressions. Love Me Tomorrowon the other hand, plays with the idea of one-night stands among the younger set in the same space it breeds a May-December romance.

His earlier work—the independently produced The Animals and #Y—are youth-oriented tales that encapsulate alarming revelations about peer culture. Think seemingly familiar adventures laced with sex, drugs, and alcohol, but involving people who have yet to learn—in the hardest way possible—the repercussions of hedonistic pursuits at an early age.

Struggles as a young director

While his films have been screened in film festivals abroad and garnered considerable recognition, Santos’s eventual success is the product of years of hard work and, believe it or not, a series of rejections.

Being young and resplendent with ideas wasn’t always a blessing for the inspired director, who officially began his filmmaking journey when he was 22.

He recalls, “When I started in the industry, people wouldn’t take me seriously. It was hard for me to prove to them that I could direct.”

“Producers, clients—they’d usually look at me from head to toe, and you’d see this uneasiness in their faces.”

When he finally got leveled into the playing field, however, he worked doubly hard to stay there. He knew how important it was for him to push the envelope, and to meet—or better yet surpass—the expectations of the audience with his next film.

Hustling to find your place

Santos encourages young filmmakers to pursue their passion with the help of a trusted production crew, despite criticism from viewers, as well as industry peers.

“You need to keep evolving and reinventing yourself. The industry keeps changing and your way of thinking needs to keep up. So you need to keep learning and getting better, otherwise, you’ll be left behind. Remember, there’s always going to be someone younger, smarter, and better than you.”

 “If you get rejected, just try again. I never got to where I am without being rejected,” he says.

It goes without saying that Gino M. Santos has made a mark in his chosen field. It’s been difficult to ignore this young creative and his work—even for critics.

But, as the 28-year-old filmmaker insists, deviating from convention isn’t merely a masturbatory attempt at instant fame or self-gratification.

Santos explains, “The stories that I make need the attention of the audience, and I want people to watch my film. I’m not seeking for attention, but my films are.”

He doesn’t opt to tackle controversial themes in his films merely because he wants viewers to shift uncomfortably in their seats.

“I try to make stories that are real and that people can relate to—to the point that they’re quite dark and quite painful. I like my films to be a reflection of what’s happening in society.” 

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This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Axe.
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