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PEPE Diokno   INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

PEPE Diokno Inquirer photo

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has finally fulfilled a promise made to independent filmmakers during the Inquirer Indie Tribute last December.

The board’s new circular 07-2011, which gives special rates (70-percent off on the review fee which costs P8,250) to independently produced movies, was greeted with both jubilation and trepidation in the indie film community.

The circular was spearheaded by MTRCB chair Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares and the board’s indie representative, filmmaker Milo Sogueco, who chairs the committee on Special Rates for Indie Films.

Inquirer Entertainment asked various indie filmmakers to weigh in on the new initiative of the review board.

Pepe Diokno

It’s really a noble idea. This will help quality indies, so they can focus on distributing their films. I wasn’t expecting this, though, because I don’t think the P8,000 review fee was a big burden. That’s the cost of renting a low-end digital camera for one day. I hope the MTRCB will streamline the system by restructuring the appeal process and working on an integrated registration system with the Optical Media Board. The MTRCB performs a necessary service. As a producer, I don’t mind paying my fair share if it will make the bureaucracy work.

Brillante Ma. Mendoza

This is great news. Even a small discount is a big help to struggling independent filmmakers.

Ato Bautista

I’m happy, but I’m also worried that some businessmen might abuse it. Some big studios might package their movies as indies to avail of the special rates. We need to be vigilant so that it’ll be implemented properly. Perhaps if there are more representatives from the indie community in the MTRCB, they can make sure that only deserving indies will benefit from the circular. We also hope that the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) would follow suit and also give discounted rates to indies. As of now, the CEB fee is P20,000 (for mainstream) and (P10,000 for indies). That’s a huge chunk of an indie film’s budget.

Adolfo Alix Jr.

ADOLFO Alix Jr. photo by RICHARD REYES

The new special rate for indies is deeply appreciated as we often work with very small budgets. It’s a wonderful way of showing support to indie films. But more than that, there’s a need to rework the board’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR). Revising the IRR will have a bigger impact on the independent film industry.

Alvin Yapan

That’s great, but the proposal should also extend to other fees levied by the government on indie films. These taxes and fees kill the distribution chances of indie films.

Raymond Lee

I’m all for any measure that will help indies and will level the playing field somehow. But how will they define who’s indie and who’s not?

ALVIN Yapan Photo by RAFFY Lerma

Paolo Villaluna

This discount has long been a dream of the indie community and for it to become a reality is overwhelming. I think it shows the MTRCB chair’s deep understanding of the community’s concerns and proves that the new board can be cinema’s ally.

Mark Meily

This is a very welcome and encouraging move from the MTRCB chair. One of the costs that most indies don’t foresee is that of government permits.

Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil

Digital technology democratized film production, but not yet distribution. Any effort to level the playing field is most welcome. But big challenges remain. Only when these problems are resolved can diverse voices in film have a chance to reach a wider audience. That would be a major boost to film as art, as industry and as communication tool.

Cris Pablo

An indie that’s screened in two to three cinemas pays the same amount to the MTRCB as foreign titles that are shown in a hundred movie houses. Commercial films can afford MTRCB’s fees. I am grateful for the redirection of policies, but there should be strict guidelines. They should consider the number of cinemas as part of the criteria in defining an indie. Indie producers should declare that their theaters will not exceed 20. I also suggest that the MTRCB remove the five-year expiration of permits. If a third-run cinema wants to screen my old films, I’d have to pay P8,250 again. But I congratulate the present MTRCB for this circular.

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