Aug 10
PRODUCING AN INDIE by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Aug 10, 2012

Coinciding with the screenings of Cinemalaya 2012 entries, IFC (Philippine Independent Filmmakers Multi-Purpose Cooperative) held their Manila Film Financing Forum for the benefit of fund seekers.

The main topic of the said forum was producing an indie film. Guest speakers were Joey Javier Reyes, Raymond Lee, Arlene Cuevas and Atty. Joji Alonso.

Direk Joey delved on the intricacies of the budget by showing a comparison of an indie versus a mainstream movie. His figures were based on his experience. The chart showed a P3 million budget for his indie and a P30 million budget for his mainstream.

The articulate director pointed out that a mainstream movie has a huge budget for a large market while an indie has a small budget and a small market. But a plus factor for an indie is the feeling of fulfillment.

Film Director Joey Javier Reyes who has 66 movies in his belt

With a P6.5 million budget for the cast alone, the mainstream towers over the indie’s half a million pesos in the same aspect. Direk Joey would finish a mainstream movie in 18 days while for an indie, he could wrap it up in half the time.

For the promotional expenses, it is not wise to compare simply because most mainstream movies were produced by the networks. But one avenue worth looking at is the promo-tion thru the internet.

Direk Joey put a premium in casting. He said that if you can get Piolo in the movie, that would give you a big edge in terms of viewership. For Mga Mumunting Lihim, he had contracted Judy Ann Santos by leaning on their friendship.

Most actors, according to Direk Joey, are itching to do an indie and are just waiting to be offered a role. He also mentioned the importance of food, not only for the cast, but for the staff and crew as well who couldn’t work on an empty stomach.

Raymond Lee, who started with Star Cinema as a brainstormer, was instrumental in the success of Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros which was directed by Solito Aureus from the script of Michiko Yamamoto. The movie earned several awards here and abroad.

Movie Producer Raymond Lee

The Maximo Oliveros movie had a run in 15 theaters for more than 3 weeks but unfortunately was not able to recoup the investment. Perhaps that time, indie movies didn’t have a command of respect from the moviegoers yet.

With Zombadings, Raymond was saddened with the lack of support from the provincial bookers. Although the movie earned good, the huge chunk came from Metro Manila. The provincial earnings was only a little over 10 percent of the total gross.

Kimmy Dora, the most successful indie to date, was mostly due to Eugene Domingo and partly to Piolo Pascual who was the main producer. Incidentally, the sequel of Kimmy Dora likewise earned more than a hundred million.

Atty. Joji Alonso shared her experience in producing movies. Her first venture was Minsan Pa which cost P20 million because the location shoot was in Cebu for 3 weeks. Sadly, the movie flopped in the box office.

Independent Movie Producer Atty. Joji Alonso

The unassuming lawyer had the heart to pursue movie production. She came up with Kubrador which earned a little over P6 million courtesy of the paid screenings in international festivals.

Atty. Joji’s recent movie was Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank, a Eugene Domingo starrer. Although not an earner, the movie was able to break even with the cost. Her biggest achievement was Here Comes The Bride which grossed P135 million. That vindicated all her previous losses.

For a simple computation of projections, according to Atty. Joji, multiply the budget by 3 and you get the break-even point of the anticipated gross. That’s one third each for the producer, theaters and taxes for the government.

Atty. Joji has an entry in the ongoing Cinemalaya. Posas is the story of a cell phone snatcher who was tortured by the cops. Nico Antonio, who is Atty. Joji’s son in real life, is featured in Posas.

Arlene Cuevas is an indie producer through and through. But unlike Atty. Joji Alonso who has a good bank account and connections inside her circle, Arlene is a fisher of international financing.

Indie film producer Arlene Cuevas whose target is the generous grant from abroad

Her advice is for project managers to establish international connections by attending festivals abroad. According to Arlene, there are almost unlimited grants abroad but you have to look for it.

And if you were able to get a grant, it would serve as your CV (curriculum vitae) in getting another one. Getting local grants like those given by NCCA is a good start and would serve as a strong credential in obtaining international grants.

And when the financing is done, the marketing should be given some thoughts. Planning is a necessary tool in achieving your goals, said Joey Javier Reyes. So those interested to produce a movie should make a plan from the start until the finish.

Don’t forget that booking your film is another big headache if you don’t know the ins and outs of promotions and marketing.

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