Jun 15
REFLECTION by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Wed, Jun 15, 2005

Things are Looking Up…Finally

Things seem to be looking bright in the local film industry which has languished through its longest period of a downtrend in years. There are indications that things might be fnally pickung up. As we have been saying: There is no way to go but up . But from where we stand, the end of the long dark, tunnel is not yet in sight.

But expect a flurry in film production during these coming months as the 2005 Metro Manila Film Festival Philippines finally pick up steam. Seven film projects will be announced on July 15, 2005 to comprise the first batch of entries. Those who want to submit completed screenplays have up to the end of June to send in their film scenarios.

After the announcement, production of the seven projects will commence. But these will not be the only films shooting because those who will enter films as finished products will also be going full blast too. This is an offshoot of the new policy to select seven entries on the basis of screenplays and the other three on the basis of finished products or prints. This will be the first time that this policy will be implemented.

This will enable producers whose screenplays did not make the magic seven circle to still shoot their films and submit them later as finished products. If they can come up with an impressive film, these same ‘losing’ producers will still barge into the festival.

In the past years, producers who failed to get the go signal for their screenplays simply dropped their plans, reasoning out that it would be hard to book a film based on a losing screenplay intended for the festival.

The execom committee of the 2005 MMFFP virtually opened the festival gates to all comers. The committee adapted a policy that did away with the provision to set limits to the participation of a producer or single film company. It will not be far-fetched nor impossible for one producer or film company to garner half of the ten slots for the festival. As MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando stressed: Why must a well-meaning producer who can come up with several good movies be prevented from doing so if he or she can afford it? Why must we penalize or discourage people from mass producing good movies?

The more films are submitted to the selection committee of the festival, the larger number of movie workers are employed. This also assures that more playdates are filled up by local films since a number will surely be bypassed for the festival and will aspire for ordinary playdates.

Which brings us to a development which almost passed unnoticed. Possibly for the first time this year, local films were exhibited one after another in four consecutive weeks.

Seiko opened the four-week consecutive showing with Bikini Open . Then it was Unitel’s La Visa Loca , Regal Entertainment’s Say That You Love Me and, finally, a bold flick, Gracia .

From January to June this year there were 17 local films that were exhibited, which was still below par if we compared it with the statistics of the past few years. The good development is that at least six films had already received an A or B rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board of the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

One of these films, La Visa Loca , received an A rating. The others, including three touth-oriented films, got a B rating. The last to get a B rating was Mga Pusang Gala , a film shot with a video camera. This film will undego kinescoping to be shown in local cinemahouses which use projectors for 35 mm. films.

And to ensure the availability of filmmable screenplay materials, the 1 st ever Film Academy of the Philippines Screenplay/Storyline Contest will soon be announcing its list of winners—three grand winners for screenplays with a P200,000 prize each, and five storylines to get P50,000 each.

The five-man board of jurors is now literally on the homestretch in sifting through the semi-finalists to come up with the eventual award-winning entries.

But win or lose, there are at least a great number of entries which are undoubtedly good materials for local film projects. FAP director general Leo Martinez, Chairman Espiridion Laxa and Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association President Manny Nuqui said they will offer the award-winners and the other entries to local producers

It has been a problem in the past that winners in scriptwriting contests usually end up unproduced because of the absence of an aggressive program to bring these materials to the desks of our producers.

PMPPA President Nuqui said he can farm out these scripts to members of his association and asked for a capsule write-ups of the screenplays that were cited as interesting and commercially viable by the board of jurors.