After appearing in numerous films and TV shows in his three-decade career, multi-talented Fil-Am artist Dante Basco has finally taken a shot at film directing.
Dante is best known for his role as Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, and for his many voice acting roles which include Prince Zuko in Avatar: the Last Airbender. For his directorial debut, Dante worked on a screenplay with his male siblings and came up with a dark romantic comedy called “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.”
The film is a family affair. It stars Dante and his real life bros Derek, Dionysio and Darion, along with sister Arianna and their folks Darius and Aida. The story follows a group of Filipino brothers as they find themselves in situations that will challenge their beliefs on love, family, and culture.
Dante was recently interviewed by journalist Ces Drilon on her Kumu show “Bawal Ma-Stress Drilon” to talk about his exciting new project, the life of the Bascos in America, and his belief that Pinoy films can shine globally.
The California-born actor describes “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers” as a largely lighthearted film about love, marriage and relationships. Set in the brothers’ hometown of Pittsburg, California, the movie has some drama, yes, but it’s also very funny. “It’s an independent film so there’s a little brashness to it,” he tells Ces in the interview. “It’s not a regular comedy.”
His parents, says Dante, did impressively in the project. “I’m really proud of them,” he offers. Unlike Dante and his brothers, who have been dancers and actors since they were young, Darius and Aida Basco had only recently tried acting. They were busy running the family business their whole life and only recently retired. “My other friends hire them now. My dad started out in a Walmart commercial out here. He’s having a great time making money as an actor after his retirement,” he fondly shares.
Whether or not the Basco siblings got their knack for performing from their parents, the Bascos are undoubtedly a very talented brood. Darion has been an actor and producer since the mid-90s, starring in films Cesar Chavez, The Debut, and The Brady Bunch Movie. Derek, also an actor and producer, has worked on The First Purge, Six Days Seven Nights, and This Is 40. Dionysio (more known as Dion) is a film and television actor who’s appeared as Alberto “Al” Ramos on the NBC Saturday morning sitcom, City Guys, and as Flip in the 2003 film Biker Boyz. Arianna, the youngest and only girl in the brood, is a writer and director who worked on the movie Glimmer and the five-part video series A Story of Worth.
More recently, of course, there’s Dante’s niece Ella Jay Basco, oldest daughter of his brother Derek, who unleashed a star turn as Cassandra Cain in Birds of Prey alongside Margot Robbie.
The Bascos are pretty popular in their Los Angeles neighborhood. A few years ago, they were recognized by the mayor of L.A. as the first Asian-American entertainment family. Dante mentions they’ve lived in the said community for about three decades. “We’ve been around long, we’re multi-generational now. Hopefully we can keep the next generations working in the [entertainment] industry,” he says.
Ces asked if Darius and Aida Basco weren’t like the typical Filipino parents who wanted their children to pursue traditional education so they can establish professional careers. Like many blue collar families in America, says Dante, the elder Bascos believe there’s more than one way to achieve success in life. They could have chosen sports but they chose to be in entertainment.
“We found success at a young age such that [our parents] just kind of kept supporting us because as young dancers, we started becoming popular in the area,” offers Dante. The Basco boys were known to be fantastic breakdancers. Before age 10, Dante and his brothers were already performing in big sports events for the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. They won contests and earned dance scholarships. When Dante turned 10, they moved to L.A.
Dante says his family is very Pinoy in a sense that the members are very hardworking. “We have a lot of jobs. We just gotta keep working,” he says matter-of-factly. “We just keep working, keep writing, keep talking, keep thinking about it, keep trying to work with other artists, keep being inspired.” They never limit themselves as to what they can create or do.
He mentions that his life story, which people can read in his book “From Rufio to Zuko,” (available on Amazon), is intertwined with his family’s story.
As for the future of Filipino films and its potential to shine on the global stage, Dante says Filipinos can only push it forward if they keep promoting and investing in their artists. “Hopefully, the things that we start now will matter in 20 years and will kinda trickle down over the generations,” he says.
What the Pinoy talents need to do, Dante adds, is pick the best artists and the best stories and showcase it to the world. “We’re such a talented, vibrant people. I want us to share our stories and talents with the world. And it’s time—the world’s ready for it.”