Philippine indie films


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Term paper for the class Professional Ethics
This document discusses the present state of Filipino cinema and focuses more on the emergence of indie movies.

Please don't reuse my article, just read it for educational basis only. thanks

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Philippine indie films

  1. 1. Darylle G. Mon-alonPROFETH4/13/11 Philippine indie films make headwayWhile independent films are largely ignored by ordinary movie-goers in the Philippines, thegenre has become the „in thing‟ in the country as indie movies gain international acclaim andgenerate worldwide interest.Industry experts noted that indie filmmakers produce more movies now than mainstreamstudios, which have been saddled by huge losses due to piracy, high taxes and stiff foreigncompetition.Brillante „Dante‟ Mendoza, director of Serbis, said indie filmmakers have taken the lead role inreviving the Philippine film industry as budding directors turn to the genre because they wouldneed less money to produce. „It‟s very accessible. You just go out, write your script and shootthe film,‟ said Mendoza, who has directed and produced a total of seven indie films since 2005,most of which have won several awards abroad. „You don‟t need a production team,‟ he added.„You don‟t even need actors, just as long as you have your camera.‟But while the indie industry is flourishing, the main problem is getting the audience, Mendozanoted, lamenting that Filipino movie-goers are so used to big-production movies that showcasetheir favorite stars. „Realistically speaking, indie films don‟t have commercial value because wedon‟t have the famous stars, we don‟t have the formula story and we don‟t have the money topromote the film,‟ he said.The 47-year-old director said he has been going to Philippine schools to prod students topatronize Filipino films, especially local indie productions.„What we are doing is going straight to schools and talking to the students and showing our filmsto the students,‟ he said. „We want to raise their awareness on indie films.‟ Industry leaders saythe Philippine film business is the most overtaxed in the world, pushing up the prices ofwatching movies in theatres. While the country still has the highest level of theatre admission inSouth-East Asia, it registered the steepest drop in movie-goers, from 131 million in 1996 to 63million in 2004.Mendoza said the country‟s movie industry, including the indie genre, needs the support notonly of the Filipino moviegoers but also of the government.„We need major support of the government,‟ he said. „If the government can support athletesand spend millions on their training, why not give a bit of attention to filmmakers?‟
  2. 2. Reaction:The Current State of Philippine CinemaIn the present, the Philippine cinema industry is now struggling against the continuous successand top-billed foreign films. Back in the days the Philippine Cinema reached its peak in the [1]1950‟s to 70‟s as they call it the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema were it is considered a timeof “rebuilding and growth”.[1]Genres that have been present for the past few decades are being recycled over and over againwith the same stories, it is a cliché, it seems like directors and writers ran out of ideas andstories to tell that they have to keep repeating and imitation similar plots of what was donebefore. The films cater to the shallow tastes of the masses who they consider as the generalpublic. The quality of a film is now irrelevant to most of the Filipino viewers, because thetendency of watching a film is to support and watch-out for your favorite celebrity and as soonas they saw that celebrity any recollection of the quality or even the story wears out. Even ifyour acting quality is very poor as long as you are a celebrity or what they call a “star” you canbe in a movie, which also lead to the deterioration of Philippine cinema. [3] In December,organizers of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival it was once envisioned as a showcase forFilipino artistry and originality, but entries are now selected on the basis of commercialappeal proudly announced that the film fest had grossed half a billion pesos. [3]The Factors that lead to the Decline of Philippine Film IndustryEmergence of Foreign films. The continuous showing of foreign movies contributed to lowerstandards of Philippine Cinema. Knowing that we Filipinos have a concept of Colonial mentalitywherein we prefer US made products or films for this matter than those that we have here. Weare far behind opposed to the state of technology that Westerners have thus our films are beingcompared to them especially when the matter at hand is about Special and Visual effects.Piracy. In this scenario even foreign films are at stake, and we Filipinos is not an exclusion. Therise of Piracy in the 2000‟s era led to many changes first would be affordability and efficiency formovie goers to just have the leisure of watching a film at home paying only less than a hundredcompared to how much one would pay when going to theaters. In the second hand thePhilippine industry earn less and even lost its royalties. Still even in the streets of the Philippineswith Piracy in the way, buyers still favor foreign films over local ones.The Independent Film industry[2]While independent films are largely ignored by ordinary movie-goers in the Philippines, thegenre has become the „in thing‟ in the country as indie movies gain international acclaim andgenerate worldwide interest. [2] At first indie films failed to grab the attention of the viewers dueto the fact that in most indie films there are none or few known artists and celebrities in the cast,almost everyone in the cast are regular people such as bystanders and small-time or risingartists.Genres that most indie films tackle are more in the lines of intensely explore social, political,religious, and psychological landscapes. It is a way that independent films avoid narrow focus________________________________________________________________________[1][2][3]
  3. 3. On trivial escapism is by a very curious and questioning fascination of how we Filipinos and thehuman beings in general relate to each other and to the world. Whether they are about socialcommentary, political statement, psychological study, or keen insights into human relationships,all of these topics represent controversial subjects that are catered specifically to nicheaudiences and markets.Unlike commercial movies or the mainstream movies, the purpose of the movie itself ismonetarily such as for profitability. In the independent stream the purpose of the films aremainly for art, culture and advocacy means as opposed to worrying about whether the moviewill make money or not.Independent films are now seen as art movements as evident in its cinematographic styles,storylines and contents. They present sensitive issues which studios cannot invest on as theydon‟t see profitability in it especially that the mass market is looking for forms of escape frompoverty and politics. Viewers from the academe would spend more on independent films due toa certain intellectual hunger that needs to be fed. Then, the development of more lucrativemarket is seen alongside.[4] Filipino pictures have been described as “cinematography filled with energy and audacity” bythe organizers of the 2008 Paris Cinema International Film Festival, which honored thePhilippine film industry and its new generation of directors showcasing 40 of country‟s mostremarkable titles. [4]Advantages and Disadvantages of indie filmsThe main cost of producing an average independent film is lower than commercial films for thereasons of having no famous celebrity in the cast, few people in the crew the most would be 20and the least 3 including the director, video man and sound man which they could shareworkload to fill out the missing positions. As an art form indie film is a great tool to expressadvocacies to their viewers for public awareness. Another advantage would be film juriesabroad favor independent films because of more interesting topics and substance.Disadvantages would be less profit as to there is a niche market and only few cinemas allowscreening of independent movies. There is negativity when independent movies are mentioned,there are still doubts coming from Filipino themselves as to most topics are in the lines ofhomosexuality, prostitution and poverty.Having a small market here in the Philippines leads to indie directors making films for foreignfestival juries like Cannes and Sundance festival. It is both sad and happy to see fellow Filipinoswinning awards on foreign festivals wherein there their work are much appreciated than we theirfellow “kababayans” who do not patronize their work. Given that the state of Philippinetechnology in term of Film is poor, we still stick to film projectors wherein Commercial moviesare made from unlike indie films which are only made using digital technology or with the use ofdigital cameras thus resulting to indie films not being shown in big cinemas because projectorsin cinemas not compatible with digital technology. It is difficult to penetrate the common marketof moviegoers without rampant visibility everywhere, so independent filmmakers have to devisestrategies that are very different from the existing, good thing there is internet where they arefree to promote their work.________________________________________________________________________[4]
  4. 4. As a conclusion, here is what Patronilo BN. Daroy had to say about the Philippine film industry: [5] Philippine cinema, in short, appears to have reached full circle: it is at the stage of refiningand formulating its own conventions and, in the process, getting in close contact with theferment in the other arts and at the same time, the serious critical attention and concern ofpeople with a broader interest in culture. This is inevitable; as an art form the cinema in thePhilippines can no longer remain isolated from the main current of sensibilities and ideas thatshape other artistic forms, such as literature, painting, the theater, etc. Neither can it fly from theactuality of social life which, after all, is the source of all artistic expression. I foresee, therefore,a hand towards more serious cinema; the muckrakers will continue, but they will be exposed forwhat they are and will no longer be definitive of the quality of Filipino films. [5]I propose that the government should provide aid to these independent film workers as they areone of the factors that the Philippines are being known internationally in terms of film and art.Every individual has their own taste and preference; indie films may not cater to the generalpublic but given that there always those people who see past what is commercial and ordinary.What is apparent is that the works of Filipino independent filmmakers is steadily growing and islikely to continue to do so by virtue of its facility for innovation, diversity and originality. Therealways rooms for improvement and in time we will be able to appreciate these movies. The indiefilms also have part and function in society like commercial movies. In my opinion if you want towatch something that could entertain you, make you cry or make you laugh then try thecommercial movies but if you have an intellectual hunger that needs to be fed like me I willsuggest that you watch independent films as to there is actual substance in the film.________________________________________________________________________[5]