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The victorious ones: ‘Gameboys’ wins best web series in Seoul indie fest

“Gameboys,” the acclaimed Boys Love series starring Elijah Canlas and Kokoy De Santos, has been declared Best Web Series in the Indie Shorts Awards Seoul. The recognition is being referred to as the first international award for the series which has been reaping praise from a global audience since it launched last May.

The announcement came to the loyal fandom of the series via Twitter today, Nov. 16, through the official page of The IdeaFirst Company, creators of the series. A certificate of achievement from the said festival was shared, stating “Gameboys” as the “winner for having met the highest standards of excellence.”

The victory comes just days after Canlas was declared Best Actor at the recently concluded Gawad Urian, for his portrayal of a teenager afflicted with HIV in “Kalel, 15.” “Gameboys” co-executive producer, Jun Lana, also won the Urian for Best Screenplay for the said film.

Could there be more good news forthcoming for “Gameboys” fans? It seems likely if Lana’s tweet earlier today would be considered, as he said, “We haven’t even told you the best news yet. But for now this will do! #GAMEBOYSBestWebSeries.”

The series’s creative consultant, Elmer Gatchalian, appears to have reiterated the positive possibility, as he tweeted, “More good news to come #GAMEBOYSBestWebSeries.”

kita na tayo baby - scene gameboys
“Kita na tayo, baby.” Image: screengrab from “Gameboys” via YouTube/The IdeaFirst Company

‘Gameboys’ 101

“Gameboys” chronicles the relationship between the gamer Cairo (Canlas) and his fan Gavreel (De Santos), who both find love in each other against all odds, amid the pandemic. As characters and actors, both found in time an enthusiastic following which lovingly refers to the tandem as CaiReel and/or EliKoy.

Interestingly, the journey of “Gameboys” towards becoming the successful and beloved BL series that it is started off in the simplest of ways, under the most difficult circumstances. Its makers wanted to continue to provide livelihood for its team of actors and creatives amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive lockdowns which gave a huge blow to the entertainment industry.

The series therefore needed to be shot by the actors themselves in their own homes using smartphones, receiving painstaking directions and cues via Zoom, setting up props delivered to their homes, with their family members assisting as co-actors or cameramen, or both. A few outdoor and out-of-home shoots, with the cast and crew gathered, have only been possible after lockdown restrictions have been slightly eased by the government.

Another interesting aspect of the series’ execution is its low-key release every week, without hype nor preview trailers, which left fans to eagerly anticipate every episode’s release and exchange banter among themselves about their own predictions. This practice of its makers is very much in effect to this day, as the series’ spinoff, Girls Love series “Pearl Next Door” starring Adrianna So, also employs the same simple approach in reaching its audience.

In interviews after the show has earned widespread praise, Canlas and De Santos both expressed their surprise and delight at the series’ success, giving much credit to its strong script and direction. “Gameboys” is directed by Ivan Andrew Payawal (who also directs “Pearl Next Door”) and written by Ash Malanum. Similarly, EliKoy have been widely acknowledged for the strength of their portrayals and the connection this made with audiences, within BL fans and even beyond.

gameboys play
“Pass or play?” Image: screengrab from “Gameboys” via YouTube/The IdeaFirst Company

‘Gameboys’ ganap

A second season for “Gameboys” has been announced, as well as a movie. Meanwhile, first season episodes continue to steadily rake in views, with episode five having just reached one million views, as of writing.

EliKoy have been busy with individual projects. Canlas, fresh from his Urian triumph, will star next in the Christmas teleserye “Paano Ang Pasko?” De Santos is apparently on extremely busy mode, as he is featured in “Stay-In Love” while also starring in the currently-running BL “Oh Mando.” He also recently released a single “Lagi Lagi” and also appears in TV5’s weekend variety show “Sunday Noontime Live!”

Celebrity photographer BJ Pascual conducted a much-anticipated fashion shoot with the two for Rank last October, seeing the tandem don stylish ensembles with gentle, feminine-inspired touches.

pearl with caireel
Image: screengrab from “Pearl Next Door” via YouTube/The IdeaFirst Company

EliKoy was last seen appearing as CaiReel in episode three of “Pearl Next Door,” which premiered last Saturday, Nov. 14. Their characters are supposed to have left and gone back to each other’s arms after giving their kween a huge hug. IB


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