In the beginning is the WORD…The exciting world of filmmaking begins with the SCREENWRITER. While filmmaking is collaborative effort of producer, director, actor, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, musical director and other film craftsmen, the screenwriters needs an organization to protect and assert his interest and rights within the context of the collaborative hierarchy.

There had been early attempts to unite all practicing screenwriters in the local film community. In 1975, the Philippine Screenwriters, Inc., under the patronage of the late Dr. Guillermo C. de Vega, then Board of Censors chairman, was organized and led by novelist Ave Perez Jacob. The PSI ceased to exist with the demise of De Vega. Then in 1977, the BUKLOD NG MANDUDULANG PAMPELIKULA NG PILIPINAS was formed with Antonio S. Mortel as its president. The BUKLOD was envisioned and organized within the union-concept. Other pressing activities of its founding members paved way for the inevitable death of the BUKLOD.



Jesse Ejercito and Tony Mortel in a private huddle in 1975

However, committed screenwriters continued to pursue their unifying efforts and in 1980, the Screenwriters Guild of the Philippines was form with an interim board served as the foundation for the formal organization of the SGP. Through the progressive and enlightened leadership of journalist-poet turned screenwriters Jose F. Lacaba, the SGP welded all working screenwriters in the local movie community into a single democratic organization.

The SGP held its first general elections on June 7, 1981 for its first set of officers for 1981-1982, at the magna Tech Omni Studio in Quezon City.



PETE LACABA first SGP President and Vice President for Internal Affairs RICARDO LEE

PETE LACABA was elected the first SGP President. Other officers were: ANTONIO S. MORTEL, Executive Vice-President; RICARDO LEE, Vice President for Internal Affairs; MARINA FELEO GONZALEZ, Vice President for External Affairs; DIEGO CAGAHASTIAN, Secretary; BABY NEBRIDA, Treasurer; JOJO M. LAPUS, Auditor; OSCAR MIRANDA, Public Affairs Officer; and CLODUALDO DEL MUNDO JR., BEN FELEO and MAURO GIA SAMONTE, Board Members.

The SGP was formally registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 17, 1981 as non-stock and non-profit corporation.

DISSOLVES

The first two years of SGP under the presidency of Pete Lacaba were marked by the following major accomplishments:

1. Laying the ground work for the setting up of minimum fee for a screenplay and the drafting of a standard contract.

2. Increasing the number of membership from original 35 members to more than double.

3. The holding of seminar workshop with the cooperation of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines

4. Continuous communications with its members through a newsletter SCENARIO and a directory.

5. Interaction with the other working guilds under the umbrella of the Film Academy of the Philippines.

Through the leadership of Lacaba, the SGP played a significant and militant role in the Academy Affairs.

The SGP officers for 1982-1983 were: Jose F. Lacaba, President; Clodualdo del Mundo Jr., Executive VP; Marina Feleo Gonzales, VP for Internal; Diego C. Cagahastian, VP for External; Jojo M. Lapuz, Secretary; Baby Nebrida, Treasurer; Jose Carreon, PRO; and Fernando Guererro, Ricardo Lee, Oscar Miranda and Antonio S. Mortel as Board Members.

The next four years of SGP 1983-1987 under the leadership of ANTONIO S. MORTEL were marked by the guild’s persistence to survive despite the economic crisis, its active involvement in the campaign against censorship; its assertion of identity and purpose within the local film community especially in its relations with the other working guilds under the umbrella of Film Academy of the Philippines; and its continuing efforts to weld all members for professional growth.



New set of SGP officers take oath of office from then FAP-DG Eddie Romero

Despite its economic handicaps (After the February, 1986 Edsa Affair), the SGP was without FAP subsidy for more than a year and it had to survive on its own resources. The SGP was able to achieve during the past four years some significant things:

1. The approval of a Basic Agreement between SGP and the Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association (PMPPA) and the Integrated Movie Producers Importer and Distributors Association of the Philippines(IMPIDAP), fixing the minimum fee of twenty five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) for screenplay and the conditions relative to the services of the screenwriter. This agreement was signed effective on November 15, 1985 for period of two years or until November 15, 1987 and renewable every two (2) years thereafter. As we go to press, the SGP Board of Directors is now negotiating with the respective panels of the PMPPA and IMPIDAP regarding the renewal of this agreement.

It must be understood that the negotiations for this Basic Agreement took two years and was held in abeyance in 1983 due to severe economic crisis.

2. The setting of Titles/Storylines registration Service since March 14, 1984. This service is endorsed by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) and the present Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). This service works on a “Gentleman’s Agreement” concept and priority claim on Titles/Storylines it became operative after the prior restraint provision was removed from Presidential Decree 1986 creating the MTRCB.

3. Education and Training – The SGP sponsored several workshops for its members. A workshop conducted by Ricky Lee in 1984 produced new and promising screenwriters Rei Nicandro, Reynaldo Mendoza and Butch Macaro. In 1985, the first joint workshop of SGP and Directors Guild or Kapisanan ng mga Direktor ng Pelikulang Pilipino (KDPP) was held in Matabungkay, Batangas. Some 100 screenwriters and directors participated in this seminar attended also by leaders of various sector of the local movie industry. The joint workshop tackled primarily the screenwriter-director partnership in film making and analyzed the industry’s problems.

As a vital part of the Guild’s program for professional growth, it actively participated in the Academy Awards, through its Electoral College in the past five FAP Awards. In the FAP’s experiment in self-regulation and in the classification system, several members of the SGP were very active member of the Film Academy Classification Board in 1984-1985.

4. Unity of Members – Unlike the era of Big Four Studios, LVN, Sampaguita, Premier and Lebran, when screenwriters work under one company and as such camaraderie and unity were easier to forge, most of todays practicing screenwriters seldom work together under one studio. As such communication and contact among them are irregular if not rare. Towards the aim of bringing them close as much as possible the SGP held monthly meetings during past four years and conducted other socials where fellow screenwriters meet each other.

The very successful screenwriter happening was the PARANGAL to pioneer screenwriters held on October 22, 1983 at Sulo Hotel, Quezon City. Practically everybody who’s somebody in local screenwriting was present including the leaders of the film industry. The SGP’s annual Christmas Party even in hard times was also a regular occasion for members to see and to get to know each other.

The maintenance of an SGP office at LVN compound, during the past six years was also a potent communication venue for the Guild and its members.

5. Inter-Guilds Relation – To foster good and effective relationship with other working guilds, the SGP has under taken several projects such as;

a.) Publication of the Cinema official organ of the Film Academy of the Philippines since October 1983. Sadly due to lack of funds it ceased publication in 1986.
b.) Publication of the Actors Yearbook ’85, a directory of the Actors Guild or Katipunan ng mga Artista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (KAPP). A substantial portion of the proceeds of the sales of this year book served as a potent vehicle of the SGP fostering goodwill with the community which the biggest in the film industry.



Tony Mortel presides over the 1985-86 SGP officers and Board Directors meeting.

Source: Yearbook/Directory (1989-1990)


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