“Hunger to learn the craft more than ambition,” said veteran TV and film writer-director Benedict Mique, who named what he’s looking for in aspiring writer-filmmakers to train.
In an intimate group interview, the Lonewolf Films founder announced his commitment to donating laptops and mentorship to five lucky enthusiasts. In the late 90s, Direk Benedict, as he is affectionately known, received a life-changing act of kindness from National Film and Broadcast Arts Artist, Ricky Lee.
“Ricky [Lee] gave me 21,000 pesos when I started,” Benedict recalled that he still couldn’t afford a desktop computer despite fresh out of college. The award-winning veteran screenwriter who was then an editor launched Benedict’s now flourishing career. “That’s when I started writing for Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK), Tabing Ilog and even GMA,” Benedict explained. Before financial aid, he thought back to when he submitted handwritten scripts on the classic yellow notepad.
“From these 21,000 pesos, my career as a screenwriter and filmmaker began,” enthused Benedict. “The P21,000 has helped me support my family.” His lyrics express gratitude and passion as he reminisces about his humble beginnings and expresses a desire to give back. “If there are filmmakers or writers today who cannot afford a computer, I am ready to give them one. I just need their names, life stories and examples of works. No matter [potential] I will see in them, I will help to develop it,” promised Benoît. He also clarified: “No promises but who knows, maybe they could come in [the entertainment industry]. I’m not trying to make a living, I’m offering training.
Over the past 20 years, Benoît has passed on kindness and trained writers who now also have successful writing careers.
Benedict believes that courage and passion are the main qualities potential writers and filmmakers must have to succeed in the industry. He makes himself credible by saying this, because his journey to the success he is currently experiencing has required him to be a courageous and passionate person. He has come a long way since he was a child fascinated by the films of the late Fernando Poe, Jr. and would walk several blocks to movie theaters with his grandfather.
“All I wanted was to see a camera and how it worked,” recalled Benedict, his simple reason for interning at ABS-CBN’s teleserye Esperanza (presented by Judy Ann Santos) after graduating a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from San Juan de Letran College.
While Benoît always enjoyed reading as a child, it wasn’t until a teacher gave him a perfect mark and words of encouragement for a screenplay he wrote in class that he considered the profession of ‘writer. His life was a series of doors opened by others and by himself. Aside from his talent, Benedict’s go-getter attitude has driven him from opportunity to opportunity.
“After my internship, I went to ABS-CBN and asked where I could join the film crew of Star [Cinema]. Direk Jerry [Lopez-Sineneng] took him to Baguio where he worked as a production assistant for the film Labs Kita, Okey Ka Lang? The film starred phenomenal 90s artists Jolina Magdangal and Marvin Agustin.
“I was the first to wake up and the last to sleep because my job was to wake Marvin Agustin and the other cast members,” Benedict happily recalls.
Later, he continued to train with other industry icons like Rory Quintos and Olivia Lamasan.
Over the years, Benedict’s value for hard work, learning and fairness has been key to his success. He places great importance on spending time honing and mastering a skill.
“I could have been a director ten years earlier but you know what they say, it takes 10,000 hours to perfect [a craft]”, Benedict explained why he chose to focus on scriptwriting first before diving into directing. In this age of instant content creation, he explained, our standard of quality work should never falter.
Over time, Benedict has developed the transformation of random encounters, real stories and real experiences into television and film concepts. He believes his slow but steady journey has led him to send concepts to overseas award shows and have effective one-liners that bring buckets of tears all over the world.
Today and in recent years, Benoît continues to maintain the same high standards of evaluation and rigor that he absorbed from his mentors. Giving feedback for the improvement of his writers is something he takes seriously, sometimes coming across as a boss terror. “I am strict. Others may think I berate my writers, but I want them to learn. I get paid to comment,” Benedict said with conviction. “If you’re a creative consultant, everything you say about a material gets paid.”
Benedict is a firm believer in and advocates for fair compensation and the protection of creative rights when it comes to pitching concepts to film crews, television networks and streaming platforms. He cited himself as an example to illustrate the value of creative license: “When I provide my concepts, they are like my children. When you get me, you get 24 years of television and film experience.
Success is an ongoing process for Mars Ravelo’s Darna unit director. He continues to add to his list of remarkable writing and directing projects (MMK, On The Wings of Love, Born For You, Till I Met You, ML, etc.). Benoît also adapts to new technologies and the evolution of the media landscape. While still busy being the wind that keeps Darna soaring, Benedict’s Lonewolf Films is planning projects with Viva Entertainment, Net25 and iWantTFC.
His background and his portfolio clearly show us that Benedict’s know-how is more than creativity and art. It is an evolution of sustained efforts towards true works of the heart.
For aspiring writers and filmmakers who wish to qualify for assistance and training from Direk Benedict Mique, you can send your applications (name, short story and sample writing work) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For random thoughts, email the author at email@example.com