As his latest movie, “In Nomine Matris (Sa Ngalan ng Ina),” opened in cinemas last Wednesday, indie filmmaker Will Fredo felt like he had taken a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
He confessed that he was “scared, jittery and excited” all at once. “It was crazy,” he said.
He admitted that he and his producers Ida Tiongson and Greg Macaraeg had been losing sleep of late. “We’re brainstorming every minute about what more we could do to promote our film without spending too much.” Even in this digital age, such a valiant endeavor could be described as “Mission Impossible.”
Still, lead star Liza Diño pointed out, “We can’t pass up on this chance to screen in cinemas… to share our film with a wider audience.”
“Liza was nominated for best actress and Clara Ramona for best supporting actress in the (critics group’s) Urian Awards. People should get the chance to see their performances on the big screen,” said the director, one of the honorees in the third Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute.
So how did he and his team prepare for the theatrical run? By praying a novena, fasting, knocking on friends’ doors in an aggressive promotional and marketing campaign?
“All of the above,” Will Fredo quipped. And just to play it safe, “We are calling and texting all our friends in our address books.”
An indie film could hardly afford to buy air time on TV. To go around the obstacle, they’ve ventured into social media.
Since “In Nomine Matris” was an entry in the New Wave section of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) last December, the producers turned to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for help. (MMDA spearheads the MMFF.)
“The biggest marketing venue in Metro Manila is Edsa,” said Will Fredo. “Thanks to the MMDA, motorists can now see a bunch of our posters when they get stuck in the traffic along the thoroughfare.”
The journey to the cineplex can be as daunting as a rush-hour commute across the city, he conceded.
Were he to pitch his film to ordinary Filipinos, he would describe it as “the perfect date movie with your mom, sister, girlfriend, the entire family… it’s an alternative to all the testosterone-filled movies coming out this month.”
He has devised a catchy slogan: “After ‘Iron Man,’ meet the ‘Iron Moms’ of ‘In Nomine Matris.’”
He and his partners thought that the week of Mother’s Day was the most auspicious time to release the movie.
(“In Nomine Matris” tackles the complicated dynamics of mother-daughter relationships—and features a pair of feisty moms, Ramona and Tami Monsod, in the cast.)
“We are nervous because ‘Iron Man’ is still [lording it over the] cinemas. From the start it was difficult to secure theaters because of all the Hollywood blockbusters in the cineplexes,” he said.
He realized soon enough that he would need the assistance of all the sectors in the industry to overcome the hurdles.
“We are thankful to the theater owners group (National Cinema Association of the Philippines) for supporting our efforts. We also partnered with (local distributor) Reality Entertainment,” Will Fredo recounted.
The government has to work double time, he said, “if it is truly interested in supporting small Filipino businesses and indie filmmakers. There should be better laws and incentives for theater owners so that our movies will have even just a fighting chance.” He added, “the government should have a say on what gets shown in cinemas. Also, TV networks should be encouraged to promote high-quality Filipino films.”