Don’t give up on Filipino cinema
“Yes, Filipino cinema will change, it will evolve, but it will never die. ”
With the Metro Manila Film Festival race ending this week in cinemas across the country, there has been a lot of debate and discussion from all stakeholders – theaters, audiences and producers – about Filipino films and their future, especially in the context of our country which is still fighting the pandemic and affects our entire ecosystem.
First of all, I think the efforts of the MMFF executive committee, theaters and entry producers this year have been truly commendable. MMFF presented an exclusive platform and space for Filipino films to be discovered by Filipino audiences. Bringing it back to theaters was a silver lining that our industry needs while slowly getting back on its feet. And while the expected attendance may not be able to replicate the mega-hits of the previous years before the pandemic, MMFF has become a good testing ground to assess the current state of our local films in theaters. After all, theatrical release remains the number one preferred platform for films.
The types of speeches that have resulted from the recent FFMM are relevant not only to the Festival, but also to the local film industry as a whole. These include discussions about the quality of Filipino films, audience behavior and preferences, and even the suitability of the theatrical platform. These are topics that we will be addressing in forums and consultations throughout the year.
The overwhelming opinion, the right idea, the man who takes care of everything, the other, the goal and the goal – to find solutions and understand what can be done to meet the challenges.
This pandemic is naturally reshaping this industry in a specific direction, and I think there are already lessons to be learned as we move forward to support our changing film landscape.
1. Script development is key. A critical first step in film production is development. It lays the foundation and structure for the storytelling, execution, and vision of the entire film, and it’s a step as important as principal photography, editing, and post-production. Giving the vision and script (the scenes, characters, moral, and themes) enough time to prepare can really enrich the quality of the final project.
2. Content is king, marketing is king. As with any product, it is not enough for a movie to be made; the target audience must be made aware of its existence. There must be enough time to promote it – the sooner the better and using traditional and non-traditional modes of marketing and promotion.
3. Adopt the new distribution standard. Certainly, the way we distribute films has been forever changed by the pandemic. We need to understand that the digital space and online content consumption are here to stay and that they need to coexist with our traditional distribution models.
4. An exclusive space for Filipino films all year round. Festivals like MMFF are good exclusive platforms to make room for Filipino films, but this needs to be more than a seasonal consideration, especially in theaters. Audiences need to be conditioned to the fact that for every Marvel movie on every play date, there is also a Pinoy movie they can watch and support.
5. Strengthening government support. Agencies such as ours within the FDCP have strived to provide all kinds of support for the production of quality Filipino films, including funding and development support. But more could be done in terms of legislation and policies that protect the promotion and distribution of our films locally and internationally. If our goal is to be as successful as South Korea, then we must recognize that its strength lies in the support of its industry from its government.
This is a call to our producers, theater owners and stakeholders, and most importantly, our audiences. Don’t give up just yet. Our cinema is in transition and it is finding its way into the hearts of the very audience it serves – us the Filipino people. And just as we all restart and test ways to adapt, lasting solutions can’t happen overnight. We need to learn from everything that has happened and work together to support our own and ensure the survival of our industry.
Filipino cinema will never die. Yes, it will go through changes. He will evolve and, for my part, I am delighted to evolve with him.