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Cyrus Valdez: Making the Cut

photo by MARYLOU C. SAUSA
photo by MARYLOU C. SAUSA

HE THOUGHT, and there was nothing.

Cyrus Jay Valdez and his team of 11 were down to filming their last few scenes of the short film Forever Natin. Time was running out. He was almost at his breaking point. Was he going to let the pressure get to him?

“If I fail, then it’s going to be a stepping stone. A challenge is not a failure,” he says. “Everyone fails, and everyone should fail para makapag-progress because if you don’t fail hindi ka magpro-progress.”

Cyrus only discovered that he had to fall in order to rise and be a step closer to his dream of sitting on a director’s chair, calling all the shots.

Taking Control

The world of show business was no secret to the young Valdez. It was there where his love for the industry began. He spent his childhood starring in movies with Judy Ann Santos and megastar Sharon Cuneta in Magkapatid, and Vilma Santos in Dekada ’70. But as he grew up, Valdez wanted to be like any other kid, and so he stepped away from the limelight at age 12.

The thought of controlling everything led him to falling in love with editing videos during high school up until he enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas as a Communication Arts major.

“You can make something funny, and with the same material, if you edit it differently, you can make it dramatic naman or serious or fast-paced,” he said.

Just after a semester of being immersed in the university life, Valdez found his niche in the Tomasian Cable Television (TOMCAT).

His film theory class with director Nico Hernandez assured him that directing would be for him. Hernandez would have other classes view Valdez’s work.

Doon ko natuklasan na may talent ako sa directing,” he says. “Doon ako nag-start.”

Dumi, an experimental film that Valdez directed for that film class was his big break, and Hernandez entered the piece in Gawad CCP. No award was taken home, but seeing his work flashed on the big screen for the first time was all that mattered to him.

It led to other projects where he was able to hone his talents as a director.

He soon made his directorial debut in Growling with Greatness, TOMCAT’s 2014 UAAP video. A year later, he directed an eight-episode comedy mockumentary television show titled Kwarto 2.0, a show about the lives of eight Thomasians living together in one dormitory.

From there, Valdez’s passion for directing only continued to grow.

photo by MARYLOU C. SAUSA
photo by MARYLOU C. SAUSA

Getting to the room where it happens

After his graduation on May 2015, Valdez took a different route: music – another passion, yet something that did not keep the fire burning.

But the story of two girls falling in love in the traditional Filipino setting opened doors for his post-university life.

His group’s final project for their film production class titled Forever Natin brought him to the big leagues, but it almost slipped through his fingers.

The call for entries for the 2016 Cinemalaya Independent Film Competition – short film category was announced on January 2016, and the group took a leap of faith to enter their piece.

It was just this May when he and his groupmates received the news that Forever Natin was chosen as a part of the top 10 among 153 applicants to be screened in the 2016 Cinemalaya Independent Film Competition – short film category.

“It was a rekindling of my passion. It reminded me of what I want,” he says.

Next thing he knew, he was sharing a room with well-known directors and actors. Alongside his writer in Forever Natin, Valdez felt happy. He knew this is where he belonged.

‘Think hard’

The bigger picture? “To make a film that will affect its audience permanently,” Valdez says.

It was idealistic yet worth dreaming of. Valdez sees directing as a different way to narrate one’s story.

“It is the complete storytelling package,” he says. Directing is where he can take the reins on everything creatively and let his passion do the talking.

In life, Valdez takes control of the path he will take. He hopes and prays that Cinemalaya is only the beginning of his career in the business.

Isipin mo kung gusto mo,” he ponders, “[k]ahit gaano kahirap ‘yan, gagawin mo. It is tiring pero I don’t worry [about myself].”

And so he thought, and he did. BERNICE ANN E. LABAD

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