The future of the Philippine film industry

STARLINE-FREEPIK

(Part 2)

In the presentation made by Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairperson and CEO Mary Liza B. Diño, 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, both 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 (Department of Labor and Employment) 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. The Eddie Garcia bill

B. The PH Creative Industries Act

C. Road Mapping of the Philippine Creative Industries

D. The FilmPhilippines Bill

E. The 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. 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 FilmPhilippines Incentives 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 P10 million to selected productions that have a minimum Qualified Philippine Production Expenditure of P8 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 P10 million with a minimum projected spending of P5 million in the Philippines. Among notable projects under ICOF are Whether the Weather is Fine 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 $50,000 to $150,000 with at least 50% of the fund to be spent in qualified Philippine production expenditures. An example of a film funded under ACOF is Autobiography.

E. CreatePhFilms: Launched in September 2020, CreatePhFilms is a funding program administered by the 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 obtain international exposure and attention. The 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. The FDCP’s participation allows for alignment with international film commissions and organizations for cooperation. Among the film festivals and markets where there was a Philippine Pavilion were: Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and European Film Market, Hong Kong Filmart, the Cannes International Film Festival and Marche Du Film, Annecy International Animation Film Festival — MIFA, the Venice Film Festival and Venice Production Bridge, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Busan International Film Festival and Asian Contents and Film Market, the 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, the 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), the National Registry for Entertainment Press (NREP), and the National Registry for Organizations (NRO).

The services to be rendered by the NR are: a.) to facilitate access of 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 De La Salle-College of St. Benilde of the La Salle brothers. Starting several decades ago, 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.)

Bernardo M. Villegas has a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard, is professor emeritus at the University of Asia and the Pacific, and a visiting professor at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. He was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

bernardo.villegas@uap.asia

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