How Cathy Garcia-Molina is tackling 'Kathniel' tandem
MANILA -- With "teen royalties" in the lead roles and a box-office film director "specializing" in romantic-comedies at the helm, ABS-CBN's upcoming series "Got to Believe" appears to have all the makings of a primetime hit.
As early as its first announcement in June, the new "kilig-serye" prominently tagged in its promotions Cathy Garcia-Molina as director. Even its title card features her name.
For her first TV project in five years, Molina is directing arguably the most popular "love team" of their generation, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, in their second TV series as lead stars.
In "Got to Believe," the on-screen couple portray childhood friends from different backgrounds -- Chichay (Bernardo) is a girl with big dreams for her tight-knit family, while Joaquin (Padilla) is a rich but lonely boy with parents on the verge of separating.
While they become close as kids, the two part ways when Joaquin is hit by a stray bullet to the head. But as fate would have it, the two as teens literally bump into each other at the same place they first met.
During the grand press conference for "Got to Believe" held recently, Molina admitted having "no knowledge" of the tandem referred to as "Kathniel" by their fans, and so had little clue as to how to harness the pair's potential for "kilig."
In recent years, Molina has become known as a "box-office director" for the juggernaut successes of romantic films like "One More Chance," "My Amnesia Girl," "Unofficially Yours," and the trilogy of movies starring John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo.
At the time Bernardo and Padilla's "Princess and I" was airing in early 2013, Molina pointed out that she was still filming "It Takes a Man and a Woman," in explaining why she has little awarness about the "Kathniel" tandem.
"Please don't take this negatively. Hindi ko po talaga alam. Wala po akong alam kung ano ang kilig na ino-offer ng Daniel at Kathryn," Molina said.
The director added, however, that this may be to her advantage, "kasi ang libre ko na gawin kahit ano."
She went on to explain her "organic" approach in directing her actors, saying she observes the natural interaction between them off-camera and translates this on-screen without compromising the script.
"What I see on the set, I'll make do with what is there. So kung ano ang mabigay ng dalawa kong artista, I will just enhance it. Kung ano ang script na naibigay ng creative, nagdadagdag lang ako ng kaunting akin," she said.
Addressing the likely comparison between her lead stars' characters in "Princess and I" and "Got to Believe," Molina continued, "Always, naniniwala ako, ibang tao, ibang klaseng kilig. Ibang characters, ibang kwento, so I don't think it will ever be the same."
"Maybe paminsan-minsan, pero Daniel and Kathryn, Mikay and Gino are very different from Chichay and Joaquin. So defniitely, it will be a different kind of kilig," she said.
Molina is an expert of sorts in bringing "kilig" on-screen, as the director herself pointed out in expressing her excitement with helming a romantic-comedy series.
"Ito, medyo turf ko 'to, eh, rom-com. Natutuwa ako na isalin sa telebisyon 'yung rom-com feel na medyo alam ko ginagalawan ko, so excited ako," she said.
Asked if she feels pressured about making "Got to Believe" a ratings success, considering her string of accomplishments as a movie director, Molina laughed as she related she had entertained thoughts of ending her career on a high note.
"'Diba naman po, sa industriyang ito, you are only as good as your last, so no matter how many films I have done na medyo tinangkilik ninyo, lagi akong takot.
"Because alam ko, pag nagkamali ako sa huling project ko, 'yung ang masa maiiwan sa tao. So syempre takot ako. I'm nearing 42. Ayoko sanang mag-retire, but if one project fails, baka hindi niyo na ako makita uli," she said.
"So that fear is always there," she said.
Admitting box-office draw and TV viewership are factors in measuring her own success as a director, Molina said she earns greater satisfaction when her works are appreciated not by the number they turn in, but by their emotional impact on the audience.
"Lagi ko nalang iniisip, 'Okay lang, okay lang na hindi masyado kumita, okay lang na hindi masyado mag-rate, pero sana magandahan sila.' Kasi minsan 'diba hindi nagta-transalte 'yung good feedback to numbers, so ako, okay lang na hindi masyado mag-translate, for as long as very positive yung feedback.
"'Yung sasabihin sa aking, 'Direk, nawala stress ko.' 'Direk, nagbalikan kami ng boyfriend ko dahil sa pelikula mo.' 'Direk, 'yung sakit ko nawawala, you alleviate my pain.' "It's never commensurate to box-office returns," she said.
She added: "Always, mas malaki 'yung binibigay sa akin na may ganoon palang effect 'yung mga pelikula't kwento ko. Okay na po ako doon. So 'yung takot ko, natatabunan ng kagustuhan kong makapagpasaya ng mga tao."
Joining Bernardo and Padilla in the cast of "Got to Believe" are Carmina Villaroel, Ian Veneracion, Manilyn Reynes and Benjie Paras.
The series will premiere on August 26, Monday, after "Juan dela Cruz" during ABS-CBN's Primetime Bida block.