Joy Aquino: An Inspiring Pinay Filmmaker
The 31-year-old director talks about her filmmaking journey, her inspirations, and her advice for other young Pinays who wish to get into the film industry.
For someone who always thought she would grow up to be a doctor or lawyer, Joy Aquino sure ended up in field at the other end of the spectrum. The 31-year-old director of films and cinematographer for film, TV, ads and music videos has a rich portfolio of works to boot: the recently screened romantic film "Us Again", music videos for artists like Abra ("Pusong Dragon", "Dedma", "Bolang Kristal" ft. KZ Tandingan), and a long list of commercial and independent projects, some of which have earned her both local and international recognition.
Joy Aquino, Film Director
(Photo courtesy of Joy Aquino)
"It’s a journey I didn’t really plan in the beginning," she said, recalling how everyone — herself included — always thought she would become a lawyer or doctor, which were the top two options her parents had in mind, given that the family didn't earn much at that time.
The seeds of storytelling were planted in her character early through priceless moments spent with her Nanay and Lola. "My Nanay would tell me about how when she was young she would gather other kids and setup a shadow play (using DIY cutouts) in their community," she mused. She also shared fond memories of how her Lola Idad would share fond memories of their small community and its wise elders during its golden years. "These two women are the most inspiring people in my life," she said. "No one else comes close."
Motivated to make her love for storytelling and cinema her life's work, she pursued a degree in Film and Audio-Visual Communication at the University of the Philippines Diliman. There, she trained in the different aspects of film production, video installation and conceptual photography.
"I enjoyed this period in my life so much because my world just suddenly opened up," she said. "I realized that I can look for different ways of expression, different ways to tell a story or an idea. There’s no one way."
All her training and passion led her to opportunities that let her tell her story through various platforms: "Nilda", her first film about a young boy's coming-of-age, won various awards such as the 2011 Gawad Urian Best Short Film, and was exhibited in countries like Finland and France; TV5's station ID “Get It On” which won the 2019 27th Golden Dove Awards for Best TV Station Promotional Material; Globe’s “NBA 3X”, the music video for Lyrically Deranged Poets’ "Poor Country," and the 2019 SEA GAMES ad by TV5, which are among the most meaningful projects she says she has taken on.
Currently, she is working on "Tupada," a personal film project she wrote a few years back and is now excitedly trying to bring to life. Simultaneously, she is working is also working on storylines and scripts for different projects, and hoping to get back to teaching.
Her words of advice for aspiring Pinay filmmakers?
"Don’t be daunted. It all starts with that 'thing' in you that is honest and brave," she said. "Nurture it so that you’ll be able to decide to take on this journey. That’s the first step. I know it sounds very simplistic, but it’s a complex process. It’s is within us. We just need to dig deep."
She also said that as corny as it sounds, open one's heart and mind to different things, mistakes included, is key to continuous learning. Finally, she shares some timely, inspiring words for Women's Month:
"Being a woman is a gift, so never let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t be intimidated because you’re a woman. Be proud. You are the only one who’s capable of defining who you are. Find your voice and continue to advocate for the things that you believe in. It’s never ending work, but it’s the most fulfilling experience if you let it be."
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