Evidently, Davao is a sanctuary of great artistic virtuosos. A proof is that The Road’s director Yam Laranas is actually a true-blue Dabawenyo!
Back on track, William Laranas, born on December 12, 1969 in Davao City, is an alumnus of Davao City National High School. He has three other brothers whose names also start with Wil – Wilfred, Wilhelm, Wilbert. He has a great passion in drawing. During his high school days, he was fond of drawing Smurf characters and playing soccer. He was a boy scout and got the highest honor during his secondary years. Yam was a champion break-dancer. He could do the strut, moonwalk moves and his killer move, the hand spin. As a dancer, he was part of the Locsin Dance Group, the most popular in Davao then. When he was still smoking, he was keen on to put his cigarettes inside the refrigerator.
He is an undergraduate of the course Medical Technology at the Immaculate Conception College (now University of Immaculate Conception). Then, he studied Film-making at the Mowelfund Film Institute, a film training center in the Philippines that caters to the needs of the mainstream film industry and independent cinema. He is also a professor of Cinematography at the Ateneo de Manila University. Some of his films are Balahibong Pusa (2001), Radyo (2001), Ikaw Lamang Hanggang Ngayon (2002), Hibla (2002), Sigaw (2004), The Echo (2008), Patient X (2009), and The Road (2011, 2012).
He first upsurged to worldwide attention in 2004 with his sulky and atmospheric horror picture Sigaw starred by Richard Gutierrez, Angel Locsin, Iza Calzado and Jomari Yllana. The film was a box office feat in the Philippines and received recognitions in both local and international award-giving bodies namely Metro Manila Film Festival, Young Critics Circle Philippines, Screamfest (USA), Gawad Urian Awards, FAP Awards, and Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. In 2005, the film acknowledged a release in both Singapore and Malaysia.
Four years after, Vertigo Entertainment, executive producer of The Ring and The Grudge bought the rights to remake his film Sigaw. Sigaw was internationally released as The Echo to avoid confusion with the US horror film installment Scream. Yam Laranas reprised as the director of the movie. It was top-billed by Jesse Bradford (Flags of Our Fathers, My Sassy Girl) and Amelia Warner (Æon Flux, The Seeker). Meanwhile, Iza Calzado reprised her role as the battered wife in the said American remake making this as her Hollywood debut.
In year 2009, Yam Laranas made a big comeback from Hollywood with his creature horror movie Patient X starring Richard Gutierrez and Cristine Reyes. It garnered good reviews from films critics that made Los Angeles-based Eleven Arts decided to take over its international release and sales duties.
In year 2011, Yam Laranas started to helm the five-years-in-the-making psychological thriller-chiller The Road. It was top-billed by Carmina Villaroel, Marvin Agustin, Rhian Ramos and TJ Trinidad. There were initial rumors went around as to whether the film will be released internationally.
Finally, due to the rave reviews gained by The Road from Hollywood movie critics, Hollywood-based international film distribution outfit Freestyle Releasing made an international distribution agreement with GMA Films, the local producer of the film, to commercially release The Road in the mainstream American and Canadian markets. It marks a history as it turns out to be the first Filipino film to be commercially released in North America and Canada. The film had a red carpet premiere at the grandiose Arclight Theater in Los Angeles, California last May 9. It began to show on theaters in May 11. Meanwhile, the said film was also an official selection at the 30th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. It will also be in competition at the 8th Fantaspoa: International Film Festival of Porto Alegro, Brazil, the biggest genre festival in Latin America. Moreover, the film has as well rocked iTunes as it hit Top 1 most viewed/popular trailer leading The Avengers and Moonrise Kingdom on second and third spots respectively.
It is surreal to know that a Dabawenyo is currently outdoing the growing Philippine cinema industry in the international scene. Let us bear in our minds that there exist a Yam Laranas, a true-blue Dabawenyo who once again proved that Davao is truly a home of world-class talents.
Disclaimer: Photos from Google Images