For producer and director Perci Intalan, life is a series of what he calls “happy accidents”.
In an alternate universe, he would have been an architect like the rest of his family (“I was supposed to be an architect. In fact, I was really dead set on being an architect,” he says). Or perhaps, he should have been a successful guy in the advertising world (“When I graduated from MassCom, I wanted to get into advertising. I saw myself in an ad agency. Gusto kong maging copywriter.”)
However, life has a different plan for him. The past 30 years saw him succeed from landing his first job in a TV network to snagging an executive position in Walt Disney to becoming a renowned producer in our local film and TV industry. Turning 50 this year, he marks this new chapter of his life by embracing what once was a happy accident. “I wasn’t really meant to direct a film. I would always say na, ‘I’m not a director, mas producer ako.’ But when the opportunity to direct came, I thought, sige na nga.”
After that debut film was released—the 2014 Nora Aunor-starrer Dementia—he went on to helm a string of other projects that further cemented his name not just as a producer, but as a director, too. Fast forward to the present, while he used to shy away from this label, he learned that there’s no better time to embody this identity than now.
“Turning 50, I was thinking, where am I in my life? What is my calling? And at this point, I feel like I’ll be directing more,” he reveals. “The ones that I direct this time, I will really embrace. Not just because I have to do it. I will enjoy it talaga.”
“I started looking at it not as an ‘either/or’, but as an ‘and.’ I’m not deciding that I will be a director more than I will be a producer. I’m actually deciding na I am a director—it’s another facet of my life and I’m embracing that now for a change,” Perci proudly declares.
50 and fearless
They say life begins at 40, but the fun starts at 50. And Perci agrees. “Before, my impression [of turning 50] was of settling or slowing down. But baliktad, e. I feel like I’m actually about to rev up and start doing things that I haven’t done before. I’m actually excited about it,” the director shares.
Armed with this challenge, he returns to the genre where he started. He celebrates this turning of the page with a new horror-slasher film called LiveScream. Its story centers on an influencer who suddenly finds himself trapped in a room. How he escapes—past the torture devices and dread and panic on high—is what the audience should watch out for, Perci teases.
“The interesting thing is,” the creative genius reveals, “My first film is a horror film and I directed a horror series and another horror film—but I’m actually afraid of watching horror.” But going to 50 and fearless, he dives headfirst and just does what he’s apprehensive of doing. While the scare factor is on, it thrills him to confront something that he’s not naturally inclined to do.
Advocacy through film
Although he chose to go beyond his comfort zone for this new chapter, Perci remains grounded in the stories and themes that he believes need more telling. Known for spearheading projects like the award-winning film Die Beautiful as well as the well-loved Boys’ Love web series Gameboys, the IdeaFirst Company owner will continue to bring stories of the LGBTQ community to both big and small screens.
While the journey to putting these characters under the spotlight was quite arduous, the director is glad that society is now receiving these tales warmly. It’s especially gratifying when their audience is able to identify themselves with the characters that they create.
“When Die Beautiful became the number one film of Metro Manila Film Fest in 2016 and won awards, we knew we stumbled upon the formula, which is just brave to tell a story,” Perci says. “Just create a character that’s three-dimensional—don’t conform, don’t even define it. It’s a character.”
From then on, he and his team felt emboldened and empowered to push for characters that anyone will be able to identify themselves with. He describes this move as “respect to the human story,” and this enabled them to find narratives with this kind of impact.
Every output is an opportunity for Perci to introduce diversity and fluidity to the community. Case in point: The Panti Sisters, which he produced. “Paolo’s character eventually wound up with his best friend na girl. Normally, magtataka ‘yung mga tao na, bakit [siya] biglang naging straight? Clearly, hindi naman siya naging straight—that’s fluidity at work. I think that’s the statement now, na you allow the characters to be as diverse and not try to tell the audience na you have to be this way and that way,” he explains.
These stories have drawn varied reactions from viewers. He points out Gameboys as an example: while many have expressed their kilig over the story of Cairo and Gav falling for each other, some have found the explicit scenes inappropriate. “Do’n lumalabas ‘yung ‘I tolerate it, but I don’t necessarily accept it’. We really need to start pushing for acceptance pa rin in the greater society,” he adds.
But more importantly, Perci is keen on shifting perspectives by pushing for more life-changing narratives in the films that he would produce or direct in the future. “It’s incredible when you hear stories that somebody’s life was changed because of what we did. That’s the legacy. If anything, that’s what we’re meant to do as human beings—change the world and make it better, in whatever small way we can.”
Geared up for more exhilarating experiences ahead of him, Perci has all his to-dos stacked up on his list. This year alone, he already has a number of projects in various stages of production and some in development. “But it’s okay. It’s actually not overwhelming, surprisingly,” he points out.
Maybe it’s the universe working its magic on this multifaceted creative; maybe he’s really just following the pull of gravity towards the things that he’s truly passionate about. It doesn’t matter if another year is added to his age—after all, it’s simply a number. “I’m 50 and fearless, and grateful to have come this far,” Perci proudly declares. And surely, there will be more to be thankful for as he enters another chapter of his inexplicably wonderful life.
Mariel is a freelance writer/editor from Manila, mainly covering the lifestyle and culture beats. A big music fan with a passion for Asian music, she's constantly on the lookout for the next hit or an undiscovered gem waiting to be heard. When not bopping to her tunes, she's packing her bags to explore the world or attending intimate gigs of her favorite bands.