Stories through the lens: Adam Dumaguin

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Filming quality content during the pandemic already has its own set of challenges and constraints. But imagine if you only had 48 hours to do everything—from conceptualizing and writing the script, to shooting and editing—on your own. 

Well, that did not stop Adam Dumaguin, a 20-year-old first year Digital Film student from Mapúa University. With creativity, passion, determination, and a little help from his family, Adam was able to produce a short film in two days and snag third place in an international competition.

Adam’s short film, My House—about a 12-year-old boy who speaks to the things he loves about his house—was named the third place winner out of 700 entries in No Sleep ’til Film Fest. The 48-hour filmmaking competition for emerging creators was established by AGBO, an independent film and television production company founded by award-winning and record-breaking Marvel directors Anthony and Joe Russo.

Congratulations on your third place win at AGBO’s first-ever No Sleep ’til Film Fest! Have you always been into filmmaking?

Thank you! I was not—I started with photography when I was in 7th grade. Wedding photographers mentored me, so I became part of the industry at a very young age. Since I knew photography, I became a volunteer in our local church community. Whenever there were significant events in our church, I would always observe and listen to great photographers in the ministry. 

Ever since it was always about developing the craft, I picked up my camera almost every day. Then, when I approached Grade 11, I [realized] that the next level I can take was filmmaking. I entered filmmaking because of photography. I treat each frame of a film like a single photograph. Because of this, I’m highly technical with how I deal with filmmaking as a craft. I am consistently applying photography to every frame in filmmaking.

What equipment and software did you use to shoot and edit My House?
For my camera, I used a Sony a6400 with Sigma 16mm 1.4 e-mount, Sigma 30mm 1.4 e-mount, and a Sigma 56mm 1.4 e-mount. I also had a Benro S6 tripod, a Deity D3 Pro shotgun microphone, a Tascam DR05x recorder, and a Feelworld F6 Plus monitor. 

For editing, I assembled the film on Adobe Premiere Pro. After that, I exported the sound to Adobe Audition and matched the color grade in Davinci Resolve. After fine-tuning the sound and color grading, I brought them back to Premiere Pro for final export. 

What challenges did you encounter during filming?

One of the main challenges I faced in this film was the 48-hour limit, considering I will be doing the creative and practical output alone. I had to schedule how long I would write the script, brief the actors, shoot the story, edit the film, and sleep. 

I allotted at least 12 hours for the pre-production. As a filmmaker, I always take my time to make a cohesive story on paper so that everything runs smoothly afterward. Then, for the production side, I had to shoot it at least within 26 hours. [That left me with] 10 hours to edit the film. Usually, I would sleep in between the process.

You have such a supportive family! Your parents and brother were your actors and your mom even helped with the musical score.

My parents were always supportive, even before I started filmmaking. In fact, my parents let me freely choose college program decisions without the pressure of finances. For the film, it was easy to get them on board. I told my brother he could sleep on my bed for two weeks. At the same time, I told mom and dad that the Russo Brothers hosted this festival and that potentially winning the festival can be groundbreaking. 

As a filmmaker, I always want my crew to be part of the creative process. They were very cooperative and supportive throughout the process. Working with them felt very natural, especially knowing that they were 100% on board with the story. It felt really good as a filmmaker and as a son, bonding with my family through film. 

“The most significant achievement you can attain as a storyteller is seeing your stories touch other people’s lives.” 

What films have made an impact on you?

My go-to film is Parasite. I read the script five times already, I think. Parasite is like the standard for me when it comes to making films. Other films that have made an impact on  me include Whiplash and the Russo brothers’ Infinity War and Endgame

If you were given a chance to work with anyone in the industry, who would they be?

I would love to work under Bong Joon Ho. I studied some of Bong’s films during my free time, and he is one of the best directors of the generation. He mixes technicality with creativity. Because of this, Bong can master complete control over his craft.

In the local scene, I would love to work under Jerold Tarrog. Jerold Tarrog is a hands-on director with his films. He writes, directs, scores, and a lot more with his projects.

But honestly, working with anyone is fine with me. I want to be part of a studio or at least of something big. I do most of the process in all of my films—from writing, directing, shooting to editing—because I have never been part of a production team. Because of this, I was forced to study and perform each role in a team. 

And it’s been a blessing for you because you know the nitty-gritty! What film-related gadgets are on your wish list?

Currently, I’m saving up for a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and some vintage lenses. My dad and I realized that if I pursued more filmmaking, I would need a cinema camera.  Other things on my wish list are a Zhiyun Weebill S Gimbal, a Zoom H4N Pro recorder, and a Deity S-Mic 2 shotgun microphone. 

Any advice for young, aspiring filmmakers?

Filmmaking is powerful. This is because stories power filmmaking and stories are powerful agents of change. Joseph Campbell even once said that stories are the soul of the human mind. 

New aspiring filmmakers should realize that because filmmaking is powerful, they bear the responsibility of telling what matters. Creators should not use their voices to demean, hurt, or even invalidate other people. Instead, the stories we tell should help and give voice to the voiceless. Be good. As a filmmaker, you can speak for the person beyond and behind you. Because the most significant achievement you can attain as a storyteller is seeing your stories touch other people’s lives. 

Watch My House below:

This story was originally published in Speed Magazine’s May-June 2021 issue.

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