Celebrating creative spirit and innovation

By Nickie Wang

Competition enhances creativity, but what happens when more than a dozen creative people converge in one room to complete certain tasks and compete against each other using their own individual strategies?

“It’s hard yet challenging at the same time,” said Rafael Francisco in a phone interview.

Rafael, or simply Raffy, is one of the 16 contestants chosen to be part of HP Space, a reality series that celebrates the spirit of creative innovation. Aside from being Asia’s first and original reality series on television, it also boasts being the first TV competition that utilizes technology mixed with creative skills of Asia’s aspiring talents.

“Aside from the fact that we have different cultural backgrounds, everybody knows what to do and you can’t just say like ‘No, that idea won’t work’ because the series selected a number of highly-creative people who are practically knowledgeable when it comes to their craft,” shared Raffy while resting in a hotel in Singapore, “I’m actually in a middle of a task right now. I just took a break for this interview.”

The 37-year-old music video director from Makati City learned about the contest through a print ad, “But they had consistent slots and announcements on TV and on the Internet. So when I realized I could be part of it, I instantly decided to pass an audition video.”

His audition video features model and host Joey Mead beating him up just to say what kind of creative animal he was and why he should be selected for the show. Raffy is not new in the business. He is actually one of the most prolific music video directors in the country.

“Name some of the big stars [there] in the Philippines; I have directed one or two music videos for them,” Raffy proudly told the Standard Today.

Among his latest works are Sarah Geronimo’s music video for “Christmas Girl” and the official music video of the hit film In My Life, which stars John Lloyd Cruz, Luis Manzano, and Vilma Santos. He has directed close to 50 music videos and commercials and has worked with bands like the Dawn and actor-singer Piolo Pascual.

Extracting creative juices

Shown in the Philippines on cable TV channel Star World, every Wednesdays at 9 p.m, the series features 16 contestants tasked with creative challenge on every episode.

“I’m competing against contestants from China, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and other contestants from the region. I thought my roommate, who is from India, would be my biggest competitor. But things change everyday. As we complete the challenges, there are contestants that emerge as frontrunners,” Raffy relayed.

Every week the contestants will be divided into groups and given a challenge. They have to rely on each other and come up with creative solutions to the challenges. Only one team emerges as winner and the losing team is eliminated.

“The experience is extreme and it gets all my neurons working. I’m using all my creative juices because everybody is highly competitive,” Raffy added.

Contestants get the chance to work with the best in the field, as industry professionals serve as mentors on the program, acting as advisors on the challenges. Judged by a panel, the winning team of each challenge is rewarded. In various episodes, team members are reshuffled and the lowest scoring members are also being eliminated.

Aside from $50,000, the winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being part of a film production. Cult animé franchise Bubblegum Crisis will be adapted to screen, and the lucky winner of HP Space will receive a fully-paid job working on this $30-million, live action feature film production, which will be filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney.

“The grand prize is quite big and if I would win, I plan to spend the money by taking a long vacation where I can party hard,” he laughed, “But of course I would have to pay my bills first.”

The New York University- trained film and video director also dreams of working in Hollywood one day.

Riot of highly-competitive ideas

Raffy is one of the two Filipino contestants in the final 16, who made the cut out of 2,000 digital auditions and a rigorous two-month audition process. The other one is Adrienne Vergara, a 25-year-old theater artist.

Raffy’s game plan is simple —just read people correctly and of course have lots of fun while doing each task.

“It’s a competition but when you’re already here, the environment is different. I’m fortunate I’m a Filipino and we are used to adapting to difficult task. I know I’m not just representing myself—the whole country is behind my back. I can’t still get it out of my head. It adds up to the pressure.”

The two Pinoys compete in a show that creates a unique space and environment in which young, creative hopefuls can express their talents during eight, one-hour episodes.

HP Space is being filmed in Singapore and it will last for two months. It premiered in Southeast Asia on Nov. 11 and is shown here in Philippines every Wednesday at 9 p.m. The finale will be shown on Channel [V] and Star World on Dec 29 to 31.

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