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Adam Dumaguin: A Filmmaker’s Process

Article by: Maurine Claire F. Kim and Alexandra Isabelle G. Delavin


Graphics by: Albert Dylan D. David


More than being an award-winning filmmaker at such a young age, Adam Dominic Dumaguin, like any other Mapúan, is just a normal guy striving to do extraordinary things. If a complex character like him were to be described in just a few words, it would be a mixture of humble confidence, fierce determination, and a mature outlook on his future as a filmmaker. 


After grabbing the third place in AGBO’s No Sleep ‘til Film Fest 2021 with his film My House last April, it cannot be helped to highlight his production–his life–from an angle that most people do not always see. 


Pre-production

Discovering the right course was not a walk in the park for the young filmmaker, nor was it something he instantly knew growing up. Initially, Dumaguin wanted to become an engineer, but later realized that it was not the right path to take. Ever since he can remember, photography first occupied his heart before digital film worked its way in. 


In retelling his back story, the Digital Film student explained that he discovered his love for filmmaking through random school projects. In-charge of shooting and editing footages for the first time, he immediately felt a natural connection to the craft. “…Wala akong prior knowledge sa filmmaking pero nung nahawakan ko yung camera, nung nakapag-edit na ako, parang nagclick lahat,” Dumaguin shared.


In fact, the young talent was given the greenlight to study at the New York Film Academy and was even granted a talent scholarship two years ago. Unfortunately, this was around the time that the pandemic forced the world into a state of slow-mo. He had to decline the offer and instead decided to stay in the country as a safety precaution. It was his father who set the scene and directed Dumaguin to take the filmmaking program at Mapúa University. 



Production 

Dumaguin shared his struggles as he had no connections or relatives in the film industry. He had to start from zero and do everything on his own—from finding mentors, conceptualizing and writing his scripts, to producing the films himself. Although he is still a student, he did not waste time as he juggled between understanding the technical side of filmmaking and acquiring the creative process–even when that meant just handing out bottles of water in a filming set as long as he gets to observe how production works.


To strive in the film industry is not just to invest time and effort but also to find the right equipment. Dumaguin later realized that anyone can produce films at any cost, but sometimes, one must invest a ton of money to maximize creativity. During his free time, Dumaguin hustles by working gigs involving photography and advertising to compensate for the needed equipment and to help his parents pay for the expenses. 


The young director admitted that even though he found ways to overcome his struggles, there were still moments that he wanted to give up. He recalled the times that he was picked last because of the model of his camera and how he received doubts because of it. Instead of letting these instances pull him down, Dumaguin’s parents encouraged him to continue his passion and trust that one day, the tables will turn, and he will build a scene of his own.


Recalling his inspirations, the filmmaker fondly talked about how certain movies inspired him to create films on another level. Movies such as Parasite (2019) by Bong Joon-ho have set standards for him. “… whenever I come up with ideas, short films, I would always ask myself kung, ‘Is it Parasite level ba?’” he added.  Dumaguin also wanted to create an impact and produce films not only to entertain but to also tackle social issues–like what Bong would also produce.


The Mapúan filmmaker also explored other movies for inspiration, such as Whiplash (2014) by Damien Chazelle and the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which helped him throughout his production journey as he wanted to give the same thrill to his audience.



Post-Production

With his parents’ support and his hard work, the young talent continued to reach for his dreams and was finally recognized when he won third place in AGBO’s No Sleep ‘til Film Fest 2021. Despite producing it solely on his own and with his family members as the only cast, Dumaguin’s two-minute film captured the judges with its twisted storytelling.


Although he was the only one with a mirrorless camera out of all the competitors, Dumaguin did not let this limitation hinder him from winning. Instead, he proved that it was not up to the equipment he was using; it was up to him, his determination, and creativity. When asked for his advice to aspiring digital film students, “if people tell you otherwise, siguro prove them wrong. […] wala naman kasi sa gear yung skill. It’s still you. It’s how you use the tools,” the Cardinal director imparted.


With his recent achievement, Dumaguin’s next step is to study more and learn about the craft and theoretical side of filmmaking to further understand the industry. For him, filmmaking is more than just business, politics, and art. “… filming is also a powerful avenue that we can convey our messages, that we can tell people our culture,” Dumaguin shared.

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