Coming A Long Way
This article was written by my best friend, Cheryl Ingles, for the Bio page of this website. It was first published here back in 2011, when this website first went online 🙂
Only a few dare to actually follow their dreams. Raz did exactly that when he left law school to pursue a career in filmmaking. While the UP College of Law lost a potential lawyer, the entertainment industry gained a talented scriptwriter and director. And although he could have tried his luck in London, where he attended film school, Raz came back to further develop his already burgeoning (and award-winning!) career, and perhaps help steer the local industry in the direction he’s always envisioned for it. One could say that maybe, based on his body of work, he’s done all there is to do in and for Philippine television and cinema, but the fact of the matter is: he’s only just begun.
RAZ DE LA TORRE is, without question, an efficient multi-tasker. And a high-achieving one at that.
He is a film and TV director. He is the screenwriter behind several record-breaking blockbuster Filipino movies. He produces documentaries for a cable news channel. He just recently finished his MA in Filmmaking at the London Film School — with distinction.
And as if the various hats he balances on his head weren’t plenty enough, Raz just put on another and now teaches scriptwriting as well.
We meet a super achiever, and the first question we often ask is, “How did he do it?” Raz’s success story is unlike your usual rags-to-riches tale. However, similar to the films he’s written and/or directed, it certainly is not plain; not lacking in conflict or drama, and even has its due share of comic moments. Maybe it was by being an only child that Raz was initially able to develop his creativity and independence. Having no siblings to grow up with, Raz as a child had more than enough space to let his imagination fly and learned early on to devise his own ways to keep himself entertained.
There are a lot of stereotypes commonly attributed to only children: spoiled, selfish, bratty, not least among them. Raz, perhaps in an effort to veer away from these labels, grew up honing the values of hard work, self-discipline, focus and passion to do everything excellently.
In high school, he trained for the track and field sport varsity team, and was also honored as one of the top 10 most outstanding students – in the city! In college, he’d never miss a party, but he would compensate by pulling all-nighters while still getting the topmost marks in his production classes. To this day, Raz applies the same commitment to excellence and hard work in every endeavor he undertakes.
Looking at Raz’s portfolio, the first thing one would notice is the variation, a myriad of projects using different media: local and international films, print, entertainment and current affairs programs for television. Raz lends his storytelling flair not only in works of fiction, but in real-life features as well. He just recently worked as an executive producer and headwriter in a cable news channel.
Apart from words, Raz also uses his training in Production Design, Lighting and Camera Operation to tell the world his stories. A potent ingredient to Raz’s success is his love for life and his unceasing quest for inspiration, for fresh ideas, for remarkable new stories to share. He pays attention to things most people would usually ignore. He could come up with the best tales from a sundry of sources: from people-watching in other countries or scouring sidewalk bazaars in Quiapo, from conversations with good friends and strangers alike. Raz’s talent as an artist lies not only in telling stories, but in finding them; in seeing connections between seemingly disjointed elements, in bringing the extraordinary out of the mundane. Maybe it was out of allowing himself to be exposed to so much that he was able to come up with the most interesting characters: Sam Milby as an American embassy consul looking for his birth parents in You Are The One. He created a a 32-year old virgin who had to teach sex education in Tuksó; a magazine Editorial Assistant in Sarah Geronimo and a snobbish rich kid out of John Lloyd Cruz in A Very Special Love.
In 2011, two weeks before receiving his MA with Distinction in Filmmaking from the London Film School and the London Metropolitan University, Raz’s feature film directorial debut, Won’t Last A Day Without You, screened in 120 theatres all over the Philippines, earning PhP20 Million on its opening day. Furthermore, Raz is now a contract director for Star Cinema, the Philippines’ biggest film production company, and a regular director for Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK), Asia’s longest running drama anthology.
Needless to say, that boy, the only child, has come a long way and is now an accomplished writer-producer-director-teacher — in essence, a strong, talented visionary who knows how to seize opportunities as they come. In one of his interviews, Raz explains, “The world is too complex to know what is possible and what isn’t.” And we hold our breath as Raz whips up his next surprise.