It’s a brave new world for Philippine entertainment. With independent films becoming mainstream blockbusters and digital shows becoming talk-of-the-town hit programs, audiences are now clamoring for fresh and innovative content.
A Philippine company that’s poised to meet this challenge is The IdeaFirst Company of award-winning writer-director Jun Robles Lana and award-winning producer-director Perci Intalan.
“Artists are now the stars of Philippine showbiz,” says Intalan. “People are now buying tickets if they see that a film has a good story made by good storytellers performed by a good cast of actors and actresses. This is the new winning formula: good story + good cast. That’s why when we formed The IdeaFirst Company the vision was to put artistry at the core of our business.”
Lana recalls how the company started. “We knew we needed fresh talent—both onscreen and off-screen. Coincidentally, at that time I gave a free screenwriting workshop called the Cine Panulat Screenwriting Lab. From this, we invited some writers to join in our productions – first as brainstormers, then as writers, then some apprenticed as assistant directors and later became directors themselves. Soon they were creating and even producing their own films and they get invited to local and international festivals.”
“Audiences are looking for something new,” Intalan adds. “Even in Hollywood, you can see that fresh talent is key. There are big productions that are being helmed by relatively new directors top-billed by relatively new actors. As Jun was looking for promising creative artists, we were also watching out for exciting new performing artists. And finally, both off and onscreen, we found the group that can best represent not just our company but this new era of Philippine entertainment.”
Indeed, The IdeaFirst Company has put together an impressive roster.
Among its creative artists is Prime Cruz (Best Director at the QCinema International Film Festival for his film Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B) Miko Livelo (writer-director of acclaimed comedies Tanods, Blue Bustamante, and I Love You To Death), Ivan Andrew Payawal (writer-director of I America, which competed at the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival), Dominic Lim (writer-director whose debut feature The Write Moment was selected for the 2017 QCinema International Film Festival) and Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo (writer-director of the award-winning Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita and the highest-grossing Filipino independent film Kita Kita).
In the roster of performing artists of The IdeaFirst Company is Christian Bables, the breakout star of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival who now has Urian and MMFF Best Supporting Actor awards to his name and is one of the busiest young actors in town—filming four movies and landing lead roles in both MMK and Magpakailanman.
Another proud addition to the IdeaFirst roster is MMFF Best Supporting Actor nominee, film and theater actor Cedrick Juan, who previously appeared in films TV shows like On The Wings of Love and plays one of the leads in the 2017 QCinema entry, The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931.
And completing the select group is young actress Adrianna So (formerly known as Malak So) who Lana describes as “an exciting and unique performer who has a look, a sense of grace and a certain mystique about her that I haven’t seen in showbiz for a long time.”
With these creative and performing artists, The IdeaFirst Company is able to not only produce innovative content, it can now also act as the management company for these artists when they are engaged in projects with other production outfits, film studios and television networks. “We believe that the key to growth is collaboration,” says Intalan. “Collaboration happens on multiple levels at The IdeaFirst Company. It happens internally among the content creators. It happens between the storytellers and our performers. It happens externally between our team and the teams of other companies that we do projects with like Regal, Viva, Quantum and Star Cinema.”
“It’s an exciting time for all artists working in our industry, because there is an audience that’s now pushing us to do more and to do better,” adds Lana. “So both as producers and as managers, we want everyone in our team to constantly challenge themselves. And with the roster we have, I am already quite excited for what’s coming. It looks like we are indeed entering a new golden age of Philippine entertainment.”