Tanya Yuson brings the Philippine supernatural animated series 'Trese' to the world

Published June 16, 2021, 2:14 PM

by Rica Arevalo

Tanya Yuson and Netflix’s ‘Trese’

Meet Tanya Yuson, the executive producer and writer for the Netflix Original anime series, “Trese.”

Tanya spent her college life at the University of Southern California under the Peter Stark Producing Program. From the descendant of World War II hero General Vicente Lim, her earliest exposure to entertainment was watching black-and-white movies on television.

“‘ Prinsesa Naranja’ was a particular favorite,” she recalls. “Then there was the time I was taken to watch my first film in a theater—a small movie called ‘Star Wars .’” She was five years old and she loved every minute of it. She continues, “I don’t know if that’s what started it all, but the fascination with the moving image continues.”

While studying in Los Angeles, Tanya discovered that her school building was a place of refuge for her family. “I found out years later that the building I had been taking classes in for two years was on the same site as a house my great grandmother, Pilar Hidalgo-Lim, stayed in with her three youngest children when they first arrived in Los Angeles. She was sent by her husband, as World War II had reached the Philippines,” says this former Millar Gough Ink employee.

Tanya Yuson with BASE Entertainment

What is really the job of a producer? “Not a lot of people know exactly what a producer does,” she muses. “To be fair, it is a nebulous job description because sometimes you are giving notes on a script and sometimes you are preparing eye drops for Brooke Shields in case she is allergic to the rabbit she’s holding,” laughs this Pisces-born executive.

Tanya spent time exploring different disciplines—from doing theater with Repertory Philippines, working as a production assistant for Unitel and taking up photography as a hobby.

After graduating from university, she went straight to Hollywood. “I had spent a lot of time learning about physical production and now I was working my way up in the realm of development,” she says. Tanya worked on story ideas, turned them into scripts that were good enough to start production. “Smallville” for TV was one of her projects.

“I worked at studios like New Line Cinema and the Walt Disney Company and eventually became a production executive/ producer at a company where I worked on ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie,’” says the producer behind the Miley Cyrus-starrer.

Tanya Yuson attending the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

Unknown to many, Tanya has been helping our young filmmakers learn the art of pitching since 2011. She gave free pitching seminars to independent filmmakers who were finalists in local festivals. She also brought in the country Aaron Thomas, the supervising producer of “CSI: New York” for a writing workshop. Fashion is also one of her passions. She put up a clothing line, “Label,” with her cousins Marica Lim-Llenado and Nikki Yuson de Guzman.

When the landscape in Hollywood started to change, the decision to come home was a leap of faith. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I knew I was going to work as hard as I could and see where it got me,” she confessed.

She read the “Trese” graphic novels in 2009 and thought that the award-winning stories should be adapted on the screen. “I brought it to my producing partner, Shanty Harmayn, and together we worked on trying to get it set up,” recalls the “Akhirat: A Love Story” producer. Shanty is an Indonesian producer whom she met serendipitously at a film pitching event at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. They formed Base Entertainment, a studio located in Singapore and Indonesia focusing primarily on stories coming out of the region.

Tanya Yuson (first row left) during the DGPI Film Pitching workshop

“Our goal is to work with the best creative talent in Southeast Asia and bring their stories to audiences both in their local markets and beyond,” says Tanya.

One of their successful projects is Joko Anwar’s film, “Impetigore,” a modern-day ghost story, which did very well in the Indonesian box office and had its world premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival as part of the festival’s midnight programming.

With the success of “Castlevania” (2017), Netflix was looking for anime stories outside of Japan and “Trese” happened to fit the bill. Thanks to John Derdarian of Netflix Anime who saw the potential of the comics written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by KaJO Baldisimo.

“John could see the value of the books and the world we were showcasing,” she quips. “Through the long process of pitching, we would always look at the books and we always ended up with the same conclusion—the books were great and perfect to adapt.”

Much to everyone’s delight, “Trese” started streaming last Friday (June 11) on Netflix. “We’re so thrilled to be working with a group of hugely talented creative people on every level of this production and that extends to our partners at Netflix,” she added. “Their marketing campaign has been stellar and fun to watch unfold.”

Tanya hopes to nurture local audiences by giving them high quality entertainment that is accessible. “Once you have an audience who demands for content, the more local productions will thrive,” she stressed.