Dolphy’s movies inspire Michael V

Dawn Zulueta and Michael V
Dawn Zulueta and Michael V

MICHAEL V started in showbiz as a rapper with the hit song “Maganda ang Piliin” and later came up with an even bigger monster hit single in “Sinaktan Mo ang Puso Ko”. He then branched out into acting and did movies like “Oh Ha aKo Pa” and “Rubberman”. But it was as a comedian on TV that he really made his mark, particularly in gag shows, starting with “Tropang Trumpo” on TV5, which became the forerunner of his now long running “Bubble Gang” on GMA-7. Aside from that, he also has long running award winning sitcom, “Pepito Manaloto”.

Now, as he turns 50 years old this year (on December 17), Bitoy (as he’s fondly called) is embarking on a new career. He is writing and directing his first full length movie, “Family History”, and he’s also producing it under his own company, Mic Test Entertainment, along with GMA Pictures. We visited their set in Marikina and saw Michael V directing himself in a scene with Dawn Zulueta, who plays his wife; together with Miguel Tanfelix, who plays their son, and Bianca Umali, who plays Miguel’s girlfriend. We thought then that if ever he’d go into directing, he wants it to center on one his hilarious characters in “Bubble Gang” called Mr. Assimmo?

“Naisip ko kasi, my first movie will be my calling card as a filmmaker,” he says. “I don’t want to be identified just as a comedy director, so I chose ‘Family History’ that has all the elements of more serious filmmaking. It’s actually more of a straight drama, but with humorous touches, parang tunay na buhay lang. This is my way of telling the industry that this is your strength, 'yung mga pelikulang nangyayari sa totoong buhay that people can relate with. Kasi, ano naman ang ipanlalaban sa mo sa mga ‘Avengers: Endgame’, di ba? As my directorial debut, I want a film about family relationships. Fan ako ni Dolphy and I notice all his films, kahit nakakatawa, may touches of drama, and that is what I want to show in ‘Family History’.”

How does the narrative go? “Dawn is May and I’m Alex, we’re husband and wife. But although we love each other very much, our relationship is getting strained, until someone gets sick and we’ll show how this affects our marriage. Di ko na sasabihin kung sino sa amin ang nagkasakit para may suspense. The effect is cathartic, but it’s still a feel-good movie.”

Is Dawn Zulueta his first choice to play his leading lady? “No, we considered other actresses. But siya 'yung pinakabagay, ang pinakatama doon sa role. Makakatulong din sa marketing kasi we have never worked together before.”

Can millennial viewers relate with “Family History”? “For sure, kasi it’s a family drama, but with a twist na tiyak na magugustuhan nila.”

Why is it only now that he chose to direct? “Actually, noon ko pa gusto magdirek ng movie. Marami nang nabuong stories in my head. I’ve directed music videos and some episodes of ‘Pepito Manaloto’ when we were in the U.S. But now is the right time for me to direct a full length film. GMA has revived its film arm to produce their own movies and I’m happy to collaborate with them. Mahirap, it’s no joke to direct yourself, but now, two days na lang at patapos na kami, and when I watch the rushes of all the footage we’ve shot, I’m really very satisfied with what we’ve done so far.  And I’m glad kasama ko ang wife ko, si Carol, in putting up our own production company. She handles the business side, the financial side, and I handle naman the creative side. We work well together.”

“Family History” is slated to be released sometime in June yet.