Lester Pimentel-Ong, one of the directors of the current top-rating show—the controversial fantasy series— ‘BAGANI’ sat down on a Saturday afternoon to share about the fight scenes and the new addition to the tribes of ‘Sansinukob’.
Pimentel-Ong as a director is also a Martial artist, first and foremost. Once in his life, he represented the country at the 1995 Third World Wushu Championship and brought home the gold medal.
He remembered how he started with such sport, one whole summer, he had to spend to train with coaches in Beijing, China. And because of that, it opened doors for him and expanded his territories. He began as a freelance fight coordinator in a film which eventually made him as fight director. His latest body of work was that of ‘La Luna Sangre (The Blood Moon), a 2017 horror-fantasy series that featured the Kathie (Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla) tandem.
Today, he takes pride in his current project and shares his process as a director.
He mentioned that working with actors to do fight scenes, he wants them to draw out their emotions. He emphasizes this because, “The characters have to have a good reason why they are fighting. With that, the audience can clearly see their intentions through their emotions or else waling say say ang fighting.”
According to Direk Lester, it takes them two-three days to prepare before they shoot the fight sequences. Planning is vital for efficient shooting process.
“This is considering the actors are already well-trained of the basics,” he added
Imparting his knowledge about fight scenes, he makes it a point that all actors passed strict process where they are really physically qualified to execute such action sequence. He praised his actors as great but singled-out one ‘Bahani’, “Enrique [Gil] is exceptionally good talaga.”
Also, he regarded the LizQuen loveteam as committed to their crafts and are risk-takers; both want to try new stuff.
In the series led by five protagonists that were chosen by ‘Apo’ and they were—Lakas is Enrique Gil, Ganda is Liza Soberano, Lakam is Matteo Guidicelli, Mayari is Sofia Andres, and Dumakulem is Makisig Morales; fight scenes utilize several kinds of martial arts—Wushu, Filipino Martial arts, Wrestling and many others if situations needed it.
Executing a fight scene is no easy task, he clarified, “All fight scenes has their own difficulty in execution. Walang fight scene na simple at minadali. Lahat pinagplanuhan at pinaghirapan gawin.”
All these successes, he credits to his father Ong, who’s a practitioner himself and exposed him to the said discipline. Lester started training at eight and by the time he started high school, he was already being groomed to be a national athlete.
When he is not shooting or taping, he also runs his a chain of restaurant businesses, which he co-owns with a celebrity-entrepreneur Richard Yap who is starring in an afternoon series ‘Sana Dalawa ang Puso’ opposite Jodi Sta. Maria. The restaurant is called ‘Wangfu’ which means in Chinese ‘to-and-fro’ an apt term for his kind of Martial arts as well.