BY RICA AREVALO
When Dwein Baltazar was in fourth year high school, she already knew she would be a director one day. “It’s very hard work. If I didn’t believe I was made for this, I would have stopped,” says the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Communication Arts graduate. “It is so easy to quit.”
She started her career as a stylist but projects did not come as expected. Her mother told her to get a stable job and recommended her to work in Malacañang. “I was even a secretary in Malacañang under the Communication department,” recalled the 34-year-old director.
She tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, “When I was in Malacañang, even if my work was not film-related, I knew that, one day, I would be a director.”
“A voice inside me told me not to give up. I held on to that. Yung kabaliwan na one day, makakagawa ako ng sarili kong pelikula (The crazy idea that, one day, I would direct my own film),” recalls the Best Director winner of the 2018 Q Cinema International Film Festival.
She has three feature films under her name: Mamay Umeng (2012), Oda sa Wala (2018), and Gusto Kita With All My Hyphothalamus (2018). She is also the screenwriter of Dan Villegas’ Exes Baggage (2018).
“I met a production designer, Digo Ricio who took me under his wing,” she says. Dwein got into big films such as Chito Roño’s Emir. “I met people who championed me to make films. After three years of styling with Digo, I had to remind myself why I wanted to make films.”
The Woosuk Awardee (Best Picture) of the 2013 Jeonju Film Festival enrolled in Ricky Lee’s scriptwriting workshop. She considers Lee as her mentor.
“He always tells us, to be a good writer, you have to be a good person first. You have to have a big heart,” she muses.
“After Oda Sa Wala, I realized there was one theme in all of my films. Someone pointed out, ‘Bakit palaging malungkot (why is there sadness), there is a looming death,’” says this mother to five-year-old Sinta. “I realize that these are my fears— to be in a box and not be able to do the things that I want.”
“I want to honor the voice inside me. I want to be different,” confesses the Cine Filipino finalist for Gusto Kita With All My Hyphothalamus.
Is there any actor she wants to direct? She beams, “John Lloyd Cruz but he is missing, and he will only go back for the right material. I am challenged and he is really a good actor. I also want to work with Joel Torre.”
As a female filmmaker, she wants to protect women. “How are females represented in cinema? Naka kahon pa rin, goodygoody characters. Even if female directors are making films, there are still people higher telling us, ‘Ito ang dapat.’”
On the lighter side, she says, “My first ultimate dream was to be a theater actress. I do not like to be a star, showbiz acting. I want stage! I always tell people, my retirement plan is to go back to theater.”
This month, she creates Past, Present, Perfect? for ABSCBN’s digital streaming platform iWant TV. “This is the first time I made a romantic comedy and I think it is well-made,” says this Wong Kar Wai and Mike de Leon fan. The series stars Vin Abrenica, Loisa Andalio, Awra Briguela, Shaina Magdayao, among others.