Julius Renomeron Jr. and Johmar Damiles: frame by frame



SEATED IN  a crowded theater,  Julius Renomeron Jr. and Johmar Damiles held their breaths. Their hearts were beating rapidly as right before their eyes, they saw the title card of their film “Heist School” appear on the big screen. Having their film premiere in the film festival once felt like a pipe dream. Now,  their dreams’ a reality. 

Before becoming the award-winning director he is today,  Julius was an ordinary electronics and communication technology student. “Bago ako pumasok ng college, ang gusto kong gawin [noon] ay mostly related sa computer…. So galing ako [sa electronics and communications technology, then] nag-shift sa [informations technology] kasi [gusto kong] makapasok sa tech-industry,” he says. 

At the same time, Johmar had his nose stuck in a science textbook, quietly studying for his biology classes. He notes, “Gusto ko noong una ‘yung science, but then [na-realize kong] second love lang ito. [Mas mahal] ko pa rin talaga ‘yung photography at videography.”

Sometimes, great friendships come unexpectedly. While living in the same dormitory, they both had unfair first impressions of each other. Julius found Johmar nerdy, while Johmar was intimidated by Julius. 

However, as time passed by, their friendship blossomed while working together in TomasinoWeb. Julius was the art director of the organization. and Johmar was a photographer. 

Regardless of the difference in their respective fields, they shared something far from the field of science and technology—the art of capturing cinematics that mimics humanity and shares a message to the world: filmmaking. 


The synergy

They both admitted that they had a falling-out in college. “May time…[na] hindi kami nag-usap ng matagal. […] Tapos dahil sa film…[naibalik] ‘yung dati naming pagsasama,” Julius reveals. “Kaya ‘yung film naming [‘Heist School’ ay] tungkol sa friendship…,” Johmar adds. 

It was revealed that their falling-out of friendship was an inspiration for “Heist School.” Julius notes, “Kapag tinatanong nilatungkol din siya sa amin [ni Johmar]. May inspiration [‘yung ‘Heist School’] sa friendship naminna nag-aaway minsan, peromas mangunguna [pa rin] ‘yung friendship.”

“Heist School” depicts four students’ creative plan to cheat in their upcoming exam. They believe that the film’s light plot can also criticize the educational system. 

Julius and Johmar threw themselves into the filmmaking process. Julius led the cast and crew as the director while Johmar took over as the cinematographer.

Shooting the film was a labor of love. In fact, it took them four to five months to finish the film. Because of some deleted files, they had to reshoot some of the scenes. 

An obstacle that they had to overcome while shooting “Heist School” was the lack of support from the University. Julius reveals, “Dito kasi [sa UST], hindi masyadong supported ‘yung craft…lalo na kapag film […] Ang hirap gumawa ng film dito sa University. Maraming may gusto gumawa ng pelikula pero hindi nila magawa kasi alam nilang nasa bubble lang ang UST.”

Despite all the challenges, Julius and Johmar never gave up.  They realized that they complemented each other; fueling their passions as they continued their pursuits.


Taking a shot


Artist’s block is the flu an artist would never want to have. “If you’re insecure with a thought or an idea, doon na nagkakaroon ng creativity block. […] Nagkakaroon talaga ng artists’ block [kapag] natatakot tayo i-express…‘yung mga ideas natin,” says Johmar. 

Julius supports this thought by recommending that every artist should not be afraid of doing something new. He pushes everyone to be fearless in going beyond their comfort zone. “If nili-limit mo ang sarili mo into a space [tapos] hindi mo pa nasusubukan...mahirap sabihin na hindi mo siya kayang gawin,” he said. 

With this, Julius ensures that he always walks his talk. He reminisces the many risks he took to pursue his dream, saying, “Nag-risk kami [simula] noong [lumipat] kami sa [communication arts]…hanggang sa gumawa [kami] ng film at [nagpasa] sa mga film festivals”. 

In the end, all their risks were worth taking. Their film “Heist School” was featured in Cinemalaya. Everything was unexpected, they remarked, especially when it won the Audience Choice Award


Keeping the fire


For Julius, the responsibility of a filmmaker lies in serving as a voice for the ones whose cries are not heard. He says, “Maging voice for other stories or people na hindi nire-represent  o hindi pinapakinggan ng ibang tao kasi maraming kwento ang hindi pa nagagawa.” 

Johmar advises his fellow young cinematographers to find their “eye”—the execution, and style. He believes that there is not such a thing as an “original style”, and that every style out there is just a culmination of other cinematographers’. 

Huwag kang mag-give up…. Kahit pangit ‘yung film mo [sa umpisa], gawa ka lang ng gawa kasi may mapupulot ka [pa rin] na lesson sa experience na ‘yon,” Johmar tells aspiring filmmakers. 

Being a filmmaker requires breaking many borders in the pursuit of one’s art. Frame by frame, Julius and Johmar held the framed certificate and the trophy for their success –– a symbol to triumph of filmmaking, and to their friendship and teamwork.  F


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