Sep 02
THE ECONOMIC SIDE OF FILMMAKING by Isabel Sebullen  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Sep 2, 2011

The film industry worldwide is strongly affected when economic downturn happens, so it is a subject for concern among film workers. The fragility of the industry makes it the most volatile source of income among workers.

The United States continues to be taking the biggest portion of the world’s box office, leaving bit player countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa fighting for the leftovers.

The worldwide box office for films in 2009 was a whopping $29.2 billion. The United States had the largest share of $10.6 billion, followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa with $9.6 share, while Asia Pacific got a share of $2.4 billion, and Latin America and others got a $2.6 share. Most of the blockbuster films were rated PG 13, an indication that most film viewers are older and young adolescents.

The United States’ Motion Pictures, having the biggest share, contributed to the economy, creating 2.5 million jobs, 115,000 of these were businesses. That would make the movie industry one of the biggest contributors to economic development.

In the Philippines, the 2011 top grossing films were mostly from Paramount Pictures and Dream Works Animation, Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. Star Cinema’s Catch Me, I’m In Love and In the Name of Love occupied the 8th and 9th place. Below are the top 10 top grossing foreign and local films (as of July 03) in 2011:

From the data gathered, foreign films are taking most of the booty and only Star Cinema was able to get the 8th and 9th place, thus most of the money being paid by Filipino moviegoers help the economy of richer countries like the United States and Europe. The same scenario is happening and will be happening in the future if no step will be taken to reverse what is going on.

In 1981, the Film Academy of the Philippines was established to organize all the sectors in the movie industry, comprising all the workers (from the stars, directors, screenwriters, editors, cinematographers) in the industry to promote and develop local films being a tool in the development of national identity and culture.

The Film Academy is one of those institutions that should help sustain film makers. But an institution should be well-funded to make it more effective. But until now, the Film Academy’s head has to find means to fund its operation, thus making it difficult to pursue a lot of plans.

Last August 18, during our Board of Governors meeting, Mr. Ruta was asking whether the Guilds and its members carry the sentiments of people in the Film Industry. National Artist and senior adviser Eddie Romero said, “People in the film industry have no sentiment, majority are only after their own self interest.” He said this in a jesting manner, but there is truth to it. The dying of the movie industry is not just due to competition with foreign films, or change of taste and preference of the movie goers, it is the lack of concern among the workers and lack of support from colleagues that make this industry weak.

For the film industry to survive and be a tool for economic development, all sectors must be working for its development, not just for their own self-interest. In my almost 3 years stint as leader of my Guild, I also received a lot of destructive comments from people who wanted to use me for their own self interest. When I refused to do their project, they clamor for a change in leadership.

Direk Romero is right when he said, showbiz people do not have sentiment, but I can say, although I don’t get my bread and butter from the film industry, as a creative writer, I do have sentiment for this industry. I do wish that people in the film industry will soon find out, that if they start to care about the welfare of the film industry, it will survive even the most difficult economic condition.

The industry will become alive if the love of film workers will continue to rise above their self- interest. No one else can do a miracle, for they alone, can make this industry live.

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