Bernardo M. Villegas
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Future of Philippine Film Industry (Part 2)

           In the presentation made by FDCP Chairperson and CEO Maria Liza B. Dino, a strategic planning framework was presented to answer the question “What does it take for a country to be a global production hub?”  Five elements were enumerated:  1.  Structure (film-related policies and enabling laws); 2. Financial incentives (funding and rebates for the service structure and content creation; 3. Skilled workers (technical crew—above the line and below the line); Infrastructure (sound stages, equipment, special facilities such as post-production services, effects, etc.) and 5. Private investments (film financing services, venture capital investments and financial bonds).

          As regards Structure, the legislative and executive departments of the Philippine Government  over the last few years have come out with the following:

A.    Republic Act 9167:  An act creating the Film Development Council of the Philippines.  Defining its powers and functions.  Appropriating funds therefore, and for other purposes.

B.    Executive Order No. 674:  Creating the Philippine Film Export Services Office.

C.   FDCP-DOLE Memorandum Circular No. 1:  Guidelines on Governing the Working Conditions and Occupational Safety and Health of Workers in the Audiovisual Production Sector.

              Already proposed in previous legislative bodies but still to be enacted into law are the following possible bills:

A.    Eddie Garcia bill

B.    PH Creative Industries Act

C.   Road Mapping of the Philippine Creative Industries

D.   FilmPhilippines Bill

E.    Film Industry Incentives Act

               To address the increased internationalization of the local film industry, the following treaties have been signed:

A.    Canada  x PH Audiovisual Co-Production Agreement

B.    Portugal x PH Co-production treaty

C.   France x PH Co-production treaty

               Other countries with whom we should have similar treaties of co-production are those who share some cultural traits with the Philippines, such as Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and the United States.  For example, I remember vividly how the Mexican telenovelas of “Miramar” resonated very well with Filipino audiences in the 1970s.  In this regard, the most ambitious target we should have is to convince South Korean film producers to make use of our abundant cinematic talents in their global productions.  As I have written elsewhere, South Korean capital and technology partnering with Filipino creative talents will be unbeatable in the global film market. We can give the Indians a run for their money!

               Under the FilmPhilippinesIncentives program, the following are the incentives provided by the Government to private investors in film productions:

A.    Film Location Incentive Program (FLIP):  Open to audiovisual content, this program provides a 20% cash rebate with a cap of Php 10 million to selected productions that have a minimum Qualified Philippine Production Expenditure of Php 8 million within the country.  Among the more notable projects under FLIP are “Almost Paradise,” “Bionic Max,” and “Electric Child.”

B.    Film Location Engagement Desk (FLEX):  FLEX serves local and foreign productions with inter-agency assistance for government permits, locations, and production logistics in the Philippines, and engagement with Philippine production companies, technical suppliers and crew.  It is the single-window clearance office that provides a general endorsement to productions to assist in their transactions with government offices across the country.

C.   International Co-production Fund (ICOF):  Open to feature films, this is a selective fund for international co-production with the Philippines, of up to Php 10 million with a minimum projected spending of Php 5 million in the Philippines.  Among notable projects under ICOF are “Whether the Weather is Fine,” “Zsa Zsa Zathurnina,” and “Nocebo.”

D.   ASEAN Co-production Fund (ACOF):  Open to feature films with a director of ASEAN nationality (including the Philippines), this is a selective fund that will support each chosen project from US $50,000 to US $150,000 with at least 50% of the fund to be spent in qualified Philippine production expenditures.  An example of film funded under ACOF is “Autobiography.”

E.    CreatePhFilms:  Launched in September 2020, the CreatePhFilms is a funding program administered by FDCP to encourage the production of quality films and the artistic creation of Filipino filmmakers through financial support for project development, production, post-production, and distribution.  

Government support is especially crucial in helping Philippine-produced films to obtain international exposure and attention.  FDCP provides support to Filipino films and producers to participate and promote Philippine Cinema for festival and commercial distribution.  It also helps promote the Philippines as a filming location. FDCP’s participation allows for alignment with international film commissions and organizations for cooperation.  Among film festivals and markets where the there was a Philippine Pavilion are:  Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market, Hong Kong Filmart, Cannes International Film Festival and Marche Du Film, Annecy International Animation Film Festival—MIFA), Venice Film Festival and Venice Production Bridge, Toronto International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival and Asian Contents and Film Market, American Film Market and Focus London.

In today’s data-centric world in which Big Data is one of the key components of Industrial Revolution 4.0,  it is of utmost importance for the film industry.  For this reason, FDCP launched in 2017 the FDCP National Registry (NR) which aims to organize a veritable database of all active film and television workers, audio-visual companies, audio-visual organizations, and film festivals all over the country in order to open up avenues for opportunities and activities that will promote the growth and development of the local audio-visual industry and foster its participation in both domestic and world markets.  NR also seeks to consolidate efforts as an empowered community of stakeholders so that film and audio-visual workers’ voices may be heard in the formulation of legislation and policies in matters affecting the audio-visual sector, especially as regards education, social welfare, training, protection of intellectual property rights, and freedom of expression.

The data bank will include, among others, the National Registry for Audiovisual Workers (NRAW), the National Registry of Companies (NRC), the National Registry for Events and Film Festivals (NREF), and National Registry for Entertainment Press  (NREP), National Registry for Organizations (NRO ).  The services to be rendered by the NR are a) to facilitate access to registered members to available government social services such as Philhealth, SSS, and Pag-Ibig Fund; b) give financial and non-financial assistance; and c) organize skills training programs for industry professionals (workshops, seminars, etc.).  There is also the Skills Training Education Program for Upskilling Professionals (STEP UP) that is in line with a shift in human resource development away from formal degree courses that often overeducate (or miseducate) workers towards more nonformal and informal ways of providing workers with the skills and attitudes they need to excel in their roles in the film and audiovisual industry.  An example of an educational institution that was able to break away from the usual degree-oriented and academic   approach to college education is the St. Benilde University of the La Salle brothers. Starting several decades ago as the College of St. Benilde, this school has been imparting very relevant skills in the creative industries, including the film industry, to talented Filipino youth.  In this educational institution, skills are more important than degrees. To be continued.