Jun 04
STATE OF THE LOCAL FILM INDUSTRY by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jun 4, 2010

In a recent casual open forum held at the Film Academy office, someone had suggested to compile the opinions, at least the sensible opinions, into an article.

The first issue brought on the table was the Metro Manila Film Festival. Why is it being managed by the Metro Manila Development Authority, a clear outsider in the movie industry? Can it not be handled by FDCP (Film Development Council of the Philippines) or Mowelfund (Movie Workers Welfare Foundation)?

FAP Director General Leo Martinez says, “Ke Mowelfund, ke FDCP, pareho lang yun. Ang importante nasa movie industry na ang pagpapalakad ng festival.” It’s only right that the festival, which is the lifeblood of some movie industry groups, should be managed by the movie people themselves.

Birthday picture of FAP Director General Leo Martinez with FAP Treasurer Manny Morfe

With the mention of Mowelfund, someone intimated the general impression that showbiz politicians have not really done anything substantial for the industry that they came from. Considering that Erap, its founder, had been vice president and then president for a time , why, until now the construction of the Mowelfund building remains unfinished..

We have showbiz senators for quite a time. “Buti pa si Zubiri,” an industry urchin butts in referring to Sen. Miguel Zubiri’s financial support to the housing project of the NMPP (Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino) and DGPI (Directors Guild of the Philippines).

Going back to the MMFF issue, “it may be the name that’s giving us a headache,” a veteran technical crew insinuated. Perhaps. Therefore we can just rename it to Philippine Movie Festival and liberate it from the reins of the MMDA people.

The industry urchin, who used to be a legman and crowd control staff, grinned before dishing out his second contribution. “Ano ba ang alam ng MMDA chairman sa festival? Yung Rolly Josef ang nagma-maniobra nyan.” The urchin ended his statement with a roar of laughter.

Last year, there was a senate inquiry on the issue of birthday gift to the then MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando. According to the report, the MMFF execom had given the chairman a cash gift (of more than a million) and that the money directly came from the MMFF coffers.

“The present system is in wanting of a major change,” a director opined. But what kind of changes? And how?

Looking at a survey conducted by the Film Academy before the coming of the new millennium, it is apparent that most of the problems and recommended solutions are still valid discussion pieces today.

1. COST OF PRODUCTION. Despite the prevalence of low-cost Indie movies, one cannot discount the fact that producing a movie is still expensive.

For a mainstream movie, P20 million is a moderate budget that could give an ROI (Return On Investment) of even P100 million. An Indie movie can be produced for as low as one million but it would take a miracle to achieve break-even earnings.

Magnifying the problem is the existing Star System. Amid the shortage of movies, talents still charge astronomical fees in consonance with the magnitude of their popularity. Another production headache is the exorbitant transportation costs especially for location shoots in faraway provinces.

2. LACK OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT. Producers get into show business primarily to earn a profit. A movie project creates employment and contributes to the government via taxes. Perhaps the government should lend a direct hand to the movie industry.

On the contrary, the government is sometimes very kind to someprojects. Baler, which starred Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis, was produced with the assistance of PAGCOR. The production budget of the historical film about the Filipino-American war was expedited by Sen. Edgardo Angara who hails from Baler, Aurora.

Currently, there is Emir, probably an OFW story in the Middle East which is directed by Chito Roño. With Francheska Farr in the lead role, the PSF (Presidential Social Fund) showed its support with 45M and another 20M from the FDCP.

3. WEAK LAWS AGAINST PIRACY. Starting in the early 1990s with the audio piracy, pirates have now included the video in their product lists.

Most people in the movie industry are wondering why the countless of raids on pirated video shops don’t produce substantial arrests. The industry urchin offered his belief, “Puro tindera lang ang nahuhuli. Asan ang me ari ng shop?”

Can’t the malls be penalized for leasing store spaces to shops that sell pirated cds and dvds? We may be needing a stricter law on that matter.

4. CENSORSHIP. The artistic side of the movie industry cannot move on with the censorship.

“Mahirap ang may padron. Ang mga stories tuloy parang naka-kahon. Hindi ka puwedeng lumabas sa boundary dahil baka mabigyan ka ng X rating.” Leo Martinez clearly advocates a no-censorship policy. “Pa-censor, censor pa eh sa internet andun naman lahat yan.”

The issue of censorship is not confined only to sex and violence. Some delicate issues like religion and subversion are prone to censorship. Once a movie gets an x rating, it loses its privilege to be shown legally to the public.

In that same survey, it showed that 67% are dissatisfied with the goings on in the movie industry and only 32% gave their approval. The high number of displeasure is somewhat ironic because one of the major issues was the uncritical audience.

A good suggestion is the “piso para sa industriya” project. For each ticket paid to the theater, the movie industry gets one peso. But this will entail the cooperation of the theaters since that one peso would be taken off from their share of the ticket price.

The state of the movie industry is a fairly huge topic. So expect a continuation.

See related article: PMC- Commission for Movies http://filmacademyphil.org/?p=1965.

Comments to this article can be sent to ajsocorro@yahoo.com

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