The Screenwriters’ of the Philippines general assembly was held last Saturday, May 31, at the Executive Lounge, 3rd Floor, Legislative Building of the City Hall building of Quezon City. The venue of the general assembly was made possible because of the kindness of Dr. Zen Gonzales and Mr. R. Montiel who let us use the Executive Lounge for the occasion. Aside from that, my generous former students Erwin U. Tena and Ma. Theresa Aquino- Malate donated P2,000.00 each to defray expenses for the General Assembly.
After so many years, it was the first time that SGP held an assembly. There were new ones who came, some familiar faces who were members years back, committee heads like Helen Lasquite, Benjie Corpuz, Eseng Cruz and Emilio Dollete, and also SGP’s adviser Director Jose N. Carreon who supported the Guild for so many years The presence of veteran scriptwriters made the assembly very memorable.
The Problems of Screenwriters
The program started with the review of the current state of SGP and most screenwriters. It was noted that those who were earning well and earned a name as screenwriters, were not listed amongst SGP’s member. Apparently they do not need SGP since they are now big names in the industry. The new members also shared their difficulty in finding producers for their scripts. Another major problem is the slash of the original price of a script. From the rate of P120,000, the current rate per script is now P10,000 because most producers do not have a budget for the writers. Professor Eseng Cruz also reiterated the low pay for the writers even for comics and magazine articles. Even before, writing is not really a good means of livelihood here in the Philippines, but a good source of income for citizens of other countries.
Ms. Helen Lasquite mentioned the lack of proper ethics among writers, especially respected writers who copy the ideas of new writers who entrust a copy of their manuscript to them, hoping they could be of help. Copyright has always been a problem. She also added: “Writers should start practicing proper ethics. They should have the right commitment, right consciousness, and help the country unlock its infinite wealth of creativity. She also added, “People are inherently good, can unleash infinite creativity, also kindness and show the writer’s importance”.
Another problem is that, scripts can be revised without even asking permission from the scriptwriters, because it suits the whims and fancies of the directors who considered themselves as “god”. But according to Direk Jose N. Carreon, directors who are writer themselves, respect the work of fellow writers.
Wilden Anonuevo also noted that the quality of stories are no longer good, that’s why TV Networks are doing a lot of remakes. It shows that stories before are quality stories. He also said that there is also a need to advertise the films but can’t advertise because of lack of budget. “We cannot compete with action movies made by foreigners because we don’t have enough capital to get very good special effects. But we can do horror movies with very good stories since Filipinos can be very creative in creating horror scenes.“ Others also commented, “ it can be advertised in social media like facebook, and it is free.”
Solution to the Problems of Scriptwriters
As president of the guild, I have encourage the scriptwriters to join contests in scriptwriting like the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature. They should also try to find a job aside from writing. They should also write for magazines and newspapers. In the near future, the guild should put up a livelihood project where writers can earn money during lean months or when there are no projects at all.
After exchanges of ideas, SGP members decided to hold a Film Forum in August or September , to give chance to students to voice their ideas about films. The Film Forum will enable producers, directors and writers to really dissect what really is the problem of the ailing movie industry . If we can analyze very well the real sickness of the industry, then we can already answer the question: “Quo Vadis, Movie industry?
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