JUSTIN BESANA: The Artist Behind Your Favorite Filipino Film Posters

Updated: Mar 30



Miss Granny, Praybeyt Benjamin, Kita Kita, Starting Over Again, Ang Babaeng Humayo, Die Beautiful, Honor Thy Father, Just The Way You Are, Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, Jack 'Em Popoy, Karnal, Kalel ‘15, The Breakup Playlist, Write About Love, The Girl in the Orange Dress, One Great Love, Mary, Marry Me, Bar Boys, 100 Tula Para Kay Stella, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank... the list goes on.


If you happen to be an avid fan of these Filipino movies, brace yourself for a treat as The Fim Dream meets Justin Besana-- the artist behind the posters of these critically-acclaimed movies.


Yes, you read it right. The movie posters we have just mentioned are all masterpieces of Justin Besana, a Bocaue, Bulacan native. In fact, if we were to mention all of the posters he has designed, this page wouldn’t even suffice.


But what will actually surprise you is the journey of this creative genius who has made a name for himself in the creative industry.

As a young kid, Justin loves creating doodles. When he entered St. Paul College in Bocaue for his elementary and secondary education, one of his teachers noticed his talent and little did he know he was bound to join his first-ever poster making competition.


He won, of course. But he admits, he was the introverted type of guy and he wasn’t actually aware that he has that potential neither the talent for it. When the right time came, and he had to enroll for college, he was even apprehensive to go and leave their province. Funny anecdote he shared, he just decided to join a good friend Grace Lagtapon to enroll at Far Eastern University in Morayta, Manila. He really wanted to become a nurse or a marketing guy but fate has its own way and led him to his third choice BA Advertising. His college life, just like anyone else’s journey, was a mix of ups and downs, but God’s willing, he had survived.


It was in 2012 when Justin entered the media industry where he started his career as an advertising coordinator for Star Cinema, the film outfit of ABS-CBN Corporation. While in film marketing, he learned the creative processes of designing movie posters, which paved the way for his long term career as a film poster designer. His undeniable skills have opened doors from different production outfits both mainstream and independent. Thus, he was able to produce notable works, which are admired not only in our country, but also abroad. From Cinemalaya Film Festival, Cinema One Originals, Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino and Metro Manila Film Festival to Sundance, TIFF, Karlovy Vary Film Festival and Tokyo Film Festival among others, Justin Besana became a familiar name.


For 8 years now, Besana is also the Graphic Artist of ABS CBN Film Restoration wherein he has created more than 200 new posters for restored classic films under the Sagip Pelikula (Save the Cinema) Campaign. To name a few, he designed the following: Judy Ann Santos and Piolo Pascual’s Dont Give Up On Us, Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta’s Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit, Aga Muhlach and Claudine Barretto’s Kailangan Kita, and Sana Maulit Muli of Aga Muhlach and Lea Salonga.

Despite the success Justin has reaped over the years, what makes him even more admirable is his humility.


“Hindi ko talaga nakita ‘yung sarili ko na talented. Kasi feeling ko, this is an acquired talent compared to others, which is innate in them. Nung college parang napilitan ako. Gusto ko talagang maging doctor, or nurse. Cliche as it may sound, hard work really pays off. Sabi nga ‘di ba, hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. That’s your fire to do better in your craft,” Besana shared.

“Dahil duwag ako and introvert, I realized that the things that scare you the most will eventually be your comfort zone once you overcome it. It may sound easy to say, but hard to execute, and maybe, nakakatakot talaga sa una, pero please know that it’s worth all the gamble,” he ended.


The Film Dream is very lucky because for the very first time, Justin revealed to us his five favorite film posters out of all the numerous works he had done in the past.


  1. UNOFFICIALLY YOURS and CORAZON: ANG UNANG ASWANG

Official Movie Poster of Star Cinema's Unofficially Yours

Poster is owned by Star Cinema
Official Movie poster of Star Cinema's Corazon

Top of the list is the 2012 movie of Angel Locsin and John Lloyd Cruz, Unofficially Yours, and Erich Gonzales and Derek Ramsay’s Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang. These two films are truly special to him because these are his first movie posters that he designed. Another important thing to note was the fact that 2012 was the time when Star Cinema started to reinvent the look of their film posters that’s why these movies were unforgettable for Justin.



2. STARTING LINE

Official Movie Poster of Starting Line Production's Starting Line

Shot in one of the beautiful cities in the country, Cebu, Starting Line movie poster is another Justin Besana’s favorite. What is interesting is they had to Photoshop the face of the protagonist to a different body because the lead actress is based in Cebu. Lo and behold, you would not even notice that Besana did a wonderful job to make it look like it's one piece.



3. EXCUSE ME, MISS, MISS, MISS

This Sonny Calvento movie, which is the first Filipino short film to make it to the Sundance Film Festival, is also extra special to Besana because he was able to show off his skills in art direction and more so in photography. He was given the artistic freedom to shoot the lead star of the poster, which only proves his versatility as an artist.



4. MAGIKLAND

Official Movie Poster of Bright Light's Magikland

Another version of the official movie poster of Bright Light's Magikland.

It has always been a dream for Justin to create Marvel-like movie posters and finally last year, this has turned into reality. What made this film significant to him was the tedious process he had to go through. Instead of using high-quality and glossy photos, they had to use film stills because they can no longer hold a photoshoot due to the pandemic. It is also unforgettable because of the art of waiting. In May 2020, he already shared studies with his clients and after five long months, he got to finally render a comprehensive poster. Considering the requirements for digital promotion, he had to make six posters for Magikland, which made it even more challenging. Despite the time constraints, he is elated that it only had minimal revisions. Truly a work of art!



5. MARKOVA: COMFORT GAY

As the resident graphics designer of ABS CBN Film Restoration, Justin considers Markova: A Comfort Gay one of his significant works. The pressure to make it to one of his best works is already there, but it didn’t stop him from ensuring that the concept of the movie poster is on point to highlight the colorful life of the main character as played by one of Philippine Cinema’s gems, Dolphy. In addition, this poster has also reached the international audience because some film sites and pages reposted his work, which goes to show the world-class talent of Pinoy artists.


Justin Besana is a living testament that talent combined with perseverance can really go a long way. Tagged by Metro Society as one of the remarkable new talents in the local cinema scene, he remains grounded and he is more than excited to create, learn and share more stories through his notable movie posters.



UP NEXT!

Movie poster design tips from JUSTIN BESANA Click here.

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