Jan 22
IN FOCUS: THE CAMERAMAN by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jan 22, 2010

With more than 50 members, majority of whom are out of work and in their twilight years, the FSC (Filipino Society of Cinematographers) is in need of a dedicated leader. And amidst the slump in the movie industry, Isagani Sioson is holding the responsibility of the guild’s president for more than 10 years now.

“Lahat naman (sectors of the movie industry) talaga nahihirapan,” Sioson explains of the current situation. He had come to terms that the golden era of the movies was long gone. “Noong araw lagare sa trabaho. Ngayon wala namang trabaho.”

But life has to go on so Sioson keeps on thinking on how to survive in these trying times. In fact, he had exerted extra effort in soliciting gifts so that his members would have something for their guild’s Christmas party.

Senator Bong Revilla was the first to heed Sioson’s call for donation. The amiable senator sent 10 cavans of rice. Then a box of medicines arrived courtesy of PCSO. “Ayan, kahit tapos na ang Christmas party ay meron pa tayong pahabol,” Sioson stresses the fact that their party was a modest one. Congressman Bingbong Crisologo was their guest of honor.

For some activities to liven up his guild, he had successfully conducted an underwater cinematography seminar in the summer of 2009. Sponsored by the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) the seminar was held in Batangas with free transportation, food and accommodations to the 30 or so participants.

Sioson has been sitting in the board of the Film Academy as a privilege of being a guild president. “Kaya nga hindi lang naman para sa guild namin ang tinitingnan ko. Pati sa movie industry pinag-aaralan ko rin.”

sioson pic

First in the list of Sioson’s proposal for the consideration of the Film Academy this year is the taking in of Atty. Laxa’s replacement. “Kailangan natin ng pondo kaya dapat meron tayong magaling manghingi ng pera.” Sioson enumerates a list of showbiz personalities that qualify for the position. The only problem is if the nominee would accept the position.

Sioson also has plans for the current crop of digital movies. “Baka matulungan natin (FAP) ang mga digital movies. Tingnan natin.” He plans to connect the Indie movies to the universities and colleges via campus tours to enable students to see the Indie movies.

Born from a big family, Sioson started in the movies by acting as page boy of Efren Reyes. Later on he worked for Ramon Revilla as a production assistant. He got close to the elder Revilla that sometimes he handled the dirty work of cleaning after his mess.
Sioson learned the craft under the tutelage of Sergio Lobo (click to read related article on Sergio Lobo: http://filmacademyphil.org/?p=515) when he was with FPJ Productions for 7 years. “Pero hindi naman masasabi talagang tinuruan ako. Kasi noon bahala ka sa sarili mo,” he makes it clear that there was no formal or even informal lessons.

In the course of time, Sioson became assistant cameraman for Ben Lobo, Sergio’s brother. He also had experience working as a gaffer and lightsman. While on the set, Sioson exercises his talent for keen observation. “Dyan ka naman matututo, sa pagmamasid ng mga ginagawa nila.”

For the camera, light is very important, Sioson says. The camera lens, which captures the picture, works on light. So if there’s no light, there’s no picture. Besides, the lighting sets the mood of the scene so it is important for the cinematographer to have read the script and to know the desired setting.

As an advice to aspiring cinematographers, “Ingatan ang lente kasi yan ang buhay ng camera.” The lens should always be taken into consideration when taking a shot. Especially now with the viewfinder of the digital camera, the cameraman should have mastered the camera before taking shots.

Having worked with Celso Ad Castillo countless of times, Sioson admires the style of the master. “Medyo masungit lang siya minsan lalo na pag may delay ang shooting pero talagang magaling si Celso Ad.” Sioson handled the camera for Virgin People (1984), Virgin People II (1996), Virgin People III (2002).

With Danny Zialcita, Sioson praises his keen eye and meticulous method. “May galing siya sa lente, kita niya ang hindi natin nakikita.” Sioson was Zialcita’s camera man in Hindi Sa Iyo Ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna.

For the actors, Sioson had worked mostly with action stars. “Si FPJ ang isa siguro sa pinakamagaling. Nagsusulat ng script, director tapos artista pa. Ayaw lang ni FPJ yung nasa ibaba ang camera, yung low baby kasi hindi maganda ang ano (profile) niya pag sa ilalim ang shot.”

“Si Rudy Fernandez magaling din.” Sioson was under cameraman Nonong Rasca when they did Markang Bungo in 1991. “Pag rehearsal, iba ang tatayo. Pero pag shoot na saka lang yan papasok. Kuha lahat ang gusto ng director.”

For his achievements, Sioson is proud of his award from FAMAS – Best Cinematography for Virgin People III. For the movie ISLA, he bagged a trophy from the Film Academy of the Philippines (now Luna Awards) and also from the UP Young Critics.

Sioson earned a nomination from FAMAS for Pedro Tunasan, a Lito Lapid starrer in 1983, for Task Force Habagat, Senator Ping Lacson’s biopic in 1993, for Lihim Ni Madonna, one of Celso Ad Castillo’s bold flicks in 1997.

For the Urian Awards, Sioson has one nomination for Pedro Tunasan, another nomination for Lihim Ni Madonna and still another nomination for Isla.

Sioson prays, for the year 2010, that the Film Academy will have more activities and projects for the benefit of the movie industry workers.

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