Brilliante Mendonza
Brilliante Mendonza Image Credit: Instagram/brilliante_mendonza

Independent filmmaker and one of the vibrant exponents of new wave cinema in the Philippines, Brillante Mendoza, said on Wednesday that if a person connects with a film, it becomes a part of his life and that is the power of storytelling.

Mendoza was speaking during the ‘Masterclass’ session on the sidelines of the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa.

According to Mendoza, he makes films for the people and leaves it up to them to define his work.

“If a person connects with a film, it becomes part of his life and that is the power of storytelling,” said Mendoza, adding that the Indian audience connects with the stories he is trying to tell.

Mendoza revealed that he prefers his story to guide his film rather than a set script.

On character development, he elaborated that he does not provide a script or set dialogues to his actors but simply places them into the organic situation of his characters. His brand of direction is guided by strong mutual trust where he allows the natural instinctive reactions of the actors to take over.

Speaking about his production design, Mendoza shared that every detail in his production comes together to tell a story.

He disclosed that he uses no artificial sets, but only actual locations to remain absolutely authentic to his characters.

The director mentioned that he uses no tripod but his camera simply follows the character, giving the perspective of an onlooker who is intimately integrated with the narrative.

“Cinema should reflect life as it unfolds,” he said.

Speaking about the editing process, Mendoza said that it is the third and final stage of his three-stage filmmaking process that begins with idea and preparation and then progresses to shoot and production.

“On the editor’s table, the film is woven together, hooking scenes where every scene seamlessly flows into the next,” he said.

Mendoza also shared that he has no formal training and only uses his experiences to guide him.

His turning point came when his debut film, ‘The Masseur,’ connected with the audience, Mendoza said.

Addressing aspiring directors, he said, “You must find yourselves as filmmakers and remain true to your craft. It is not going to be easy. Filmmaking is not just a passion, but a commitment to tell truthful stories.”