Poster from Director Dante Nico Garcia

Palaweño director Dante Nico Garcia is keen on mentoring homegrown talents with skills in production design that can be applied to film, theater, and television.

Garcia is putting together an apprenticeship program in production design for film, television, and theater. The program, which has 20 slots available, is open to children aged 11 and older and will last for eight sessions.

The sessions will be held at the Casa Nieves building, where he said they will be joined by different practitioners in the industry. The program will also go over designing costumes and sets, styling for a variety show, and making videos.

He hopes to get the trainees from the program as part of the production design team he is forming for some projects he is pursuing. The familiarity of locals with sourcing materials will be an additional advantage in training talents for future projects in Palawan.

Through mentorship, Garcia observed that technology has now made production designing easier and he wants to maximize the advantage. He said that the pandemic gave everyone a chance to learn about digital tools and what they can do.

“Ang mga bata, dalawang taon nakatitig sa screen, alam na nila kung ano ang gusto nila gawin. Kailangan mo na lang sila i-guide sa alam nila gawin. Technically, lahat tayo ay direktor na ngayon– bibigyan mo na lang ng sistema. Hindi na collaborative ang pag-gawa ng content, pwedeng mag-isa ka na lang pero dapat alam mo lahat,” Garcia added.

“Before when I directed Ploning, film was still a collaborative art—what happened when we transitioned to digital, noon iba pa nagkakarga ng negatibo sa naglilipat na di maarawan. Ngayon, iPhone na lang tapos ang focus ay pipindutin mo na lang– ang editing pwede mo na i-send sa google drive sa kung sino i-edit,” he said.

Before he ventured into directing films, Garcia recalled how his experience in production design gave him a detail-oriented perspective on visuals. He said production design dictates what the audience should watch and gives focus to a film, television, or theater production.

The quality of his work as a production designer has been seen in various films like Super B (2002), Don’t Give Up on Us (2006), Mr. Suave (2003), Pisay (2007), Shake, Rattle, and Roll 9, My First Romance (2003), and others. He also worked for some television shows on ABS-CBN.

From 2011 to 2012, he also directed films like Ploning, Madaling araw mahabang gabi, and Oh, My Girl! :A Laugh Story, Mrs. Recto and the Survivor Philippines.

He underscored the importance of production design on the overall impact of a project.

“Ididikta mo kung saan manonood ang audience. Ang production design, napakaimportante kasi kumbaga sa party ng lahat na nakaitim, kapag nagpapasok ka ng isang nakaputi, siya yong titingnan natin—kumbaga ang importante ay makita mo ang difference ng mga bagay-bagay at ma-apply,” he said.

“Sa akin, hindi siya matututunan ng mga bata by watching videos– hindi sya ma-zoom class kasi may practical. Magiging apprenticeship para talagang kuha nila kung paano– I’m sure may mga estudyante na mas magagaling sa akin pero kumbaga ang sa akin ay i-instill ko ‘yong experience ko, how it worked for me,” he said.

The registration fee for the program is P5,000 for each participant, which Garcia said will go to the re-activation of the Lyrics and Sheets Foundation dedicated to the hospital bedding project.