Acclaimed Philippine directors Joel Lamangan, Pepe Diokno, Perci Intalan and Mike Sandejas shared their valued opinions and prized insights on the current state of local cinema before aspiring filmmaking students of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) and other film buffs and enthusiasts, in an open forum entitled Meet the Directors: The Veterans and The Maverick at the college’s School of Design and Arts (SDA) Theater.
In partnership with Benildean Filmworks, the official film organization of the institution, the seminar was moderated by multi-award-winning director Jose Javier Reyes, Program Chairperson of Digital Filmmaking (DFilm) Program, which celebrates its 10th Anniversary.
Intalan, President of The IdeaFirst Company which focuses on content creation, and who has produced 18 films so far, clarified that there are numerous productions every year. However, the problem is the lack of venues, for these have been gobbled up by foreign films, as well as certain powers which prevent commercial screenings of some works.
The speakers likewise discussed other factors affecting the decline of the country’s cinema. One of the most crucial issues facing the film industry today is distribution and its fair share of local releases at the theaters without being pulled-out unceremoniously by major mall operators.
The panelists unanimously agreed that the mall board of directors treat films as businesses and are more inclined towards profits, more than the hard work and passion of artists or the directors.
Respected director and producer Sandejas claimed that movie makers should look at what is more challenging, audience preferences, and what works.
“I think the method of distribution has changed viewing habits, especially for young people. They have lesser attention spans and everything is readily available on their smartphones. So, the path I am taking is I am exploring that. The way I see things is we have to open Philippine cinema doors to utilize the new methods of distribution to new media,” he declared.
Lamangan, who created the prize-winning Mano Po movies, lamented that the Philippine cinema is declining. He said the status of Philippine movie is critical, there are only few who watch film on cinemas.
The group pointed out one key indicator on the waning of Philippine cinema is the spawning of film festivals, which are avenues even for filmmakers with established names to air their masterpieces in the big screen.
Lauded independent filmmaker Diokno shared that these film festivals likewise play a big part in supporting up-and-coming filmmakers in their quest to get their stories told.
The jury unanimously concluded that television has greatly affected the appetite of Filipinos to watch movies as the stars in noontime variety shows and primetime teleseryes are the same actors in films.