Jun 20
INDIE PRODUCER by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jun 20, 2008

“Producer talaga ang gusto kong papel,” says Margie Templo when asked of her other possible participation in a movie project. “Let’s leave the writing to the writer and let the director do the directing of the movie. Basta ako talaga as producer lang.”

And as a producer, Margie had received an invitation from the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival which was recently concluded. “Kababalik ko nga lang last week,” she shyly declares, “not really for Serbis but to mingle with other movie producers.” Serbis, a movie by noted Indie director Brillante Mendoza, is the Philippines’ invited entry to the Cannes Filmfest. Of course, there’s no need to say that Margie had also rooted for Serbis simply because she’s a Filipino. Unfortunately, our lone entry failed to bring home any of the prizes at stake.

Popularly called Indie, as opposed to established studios and big production companies like Regal or Seiko, independent movie producers make digital movies not for the money. “Admittedly naman hindi pa kumikita ang mga indie movies ngayon,” Margie confesses. Despite the media releases that we read about a digital movie, there’s no Indie movie yet that have earned or reached break even. “Obvious nga na kaya maraming digital ngayon kasi masarap gumawa ng movie.” And perhaps, added a movie industry oldtimer, Indie producers have the money to spend. Comparatively speaking, there’s a very wide gap in the budget of the traditional film vis-à-vis the budget of a digital movie.


To hit or not to hit, Margie and her partners make movies primarily for the love of it – the same sentiment of Kidlat Tahimik in the early 1970s. Eric De Guia, who had legally changed his name to Kidlat Tahimik, pioneered in the short film genre. And since shorts was not given due recognition during Kidlat’s time, the guy had to peddle his wares abroad. Fortunately for Kidlat, his Mababangong Bangungot (loosely translated as Perfumed Nightmares) had won acclaim from foreign movie critics.

Kidlat Tahimik would have branched out to the mainstream if not for the prohibitive cost incurred in producing a feature film (at least 90 minutes running time). He was actually the producer, director and the lead actor of his short films. A friend of Kidlat Tahimik said that Kidlat’s production was a one-man team such that if only Kidlat could man the camera while acting then he would have done it. And his short movies feature only himself with very minor supporting roles played by friends.

With the current vogue at this electronic age, a digital movie can be produced for about one million pesos, relatively cheaper than the budget of a traditional film project by established production companies. “Pero kulang siguro ang one million,” Margie issues a warning with seriousness in her voice.

In their first digital feature film entitled Big Time, Margie’s group was endowed with P500,000 in grants by Cinemalaya. But the money was not enough so they still had to shell out a million more to finish the production. Cinemalaya is the guiding spirit of Indie moviemakers. In 2005, its festival was co-sponsored by ABC-5 of Tony Boy Cojuangco, an acknowledged godfather of digital movies.

Big Time, a collaboration of Monster “Coreen” Jimenez with Mario Cornejo, was Arkeofilms’ entry to the Cinemalaya Indie Festival of 2005. Its story is about the misadventures of two small time criminals who wished to be in the big time scene. From a mere kidnapping, the movie revolves on the three days of adventure, replete with amusement and tragedy.

From the original half million pesos, the budget soared mainly because of the fairly heavy casting which was bannered by Michael de Mesa. Others in the cast playing major roles were Nor Domingo, Winston Elizalde, Jamie Wilson and Joanne Miller. Supporting roles were played by Frederick Edwards, Joel Ruiz, Tony Roma, Gerry Cornejo, Amante Pulido, Jon Santos and Carme Sanchez.

Arkeofilms is the partnership of Margie, Monster and Joel Ruiz. It’s noticeable that the trio, aside from spearheading the production, also share in the production work. For Big Time, Monster was the (executive) producer, scriptwriter (with Mario Cornejo) and editor (also with Mario Cornejo). Joel Ruiz and Margie Templo were the line producers and Joel also played a supporting role. Fortunately for Arkeofilms, Big Time grabbed the Best Screenplay award and also the award for Best Sound which was handled by Allan Feliciano and Raffy Magsaysay.

“Fulfilling din naman ang Indie movie lalo na kapag nakasuwerte ng award,” Margie winks to signify light humor and to downplay the feat. In that same Cinemalaya Festival of 2005, Arkeofilms also came home with the trophy for the Best Short Film won by their entry Mansyon. “Actually yang Mansyon ang very first movie namin pero short nga lang,” Margie explains then emphasizes that Arkeofilms may just have been lucky. But in the following year, Arkeofilms made a repeat of winning the Best Short Film award with their entry Putot.

“If we have enough money for a project, go kami sa production ng feature movie,” Margie intimates. “Sana nga kung maraming pera baka tuloy-tuloy ang paggawa namin ng movie.” Their modest office is manned by five people that includes the partners of Arkeofilms – Margie, Monster and Joel. For the overhead expenses, the firm’s main source of revenue is corporate profiling. “Uso na ngayon ang video sa mga offices,” says Margie. Where before, big companies have their profiles in hardbound, now they prefer videos in dvd. They also do any kind of avp (audio visual presentation) as long as it would generate income.

Arkeofilms is just one of the countless Indie firms forming the soon-to-be mainstream. “Masyado kasing mahal ang film,” laments a movie industry oldtimer, “eh ang video bale camera lang ang talagang problema. Pati editing masyadong madali na pag may computer.” To that, Margie could only agree.

Next year, if not this year, may somehow be a breaking point when digital movies would far outnumber the traditional films commercially shown. And Arkeofilms may probably be in the forefront.

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