Not enough Filipino film buffs

Empoy Marquez (left) and Alessandra de Rossi in “Kita Kita”

Even as the Filipino indie film trend continues to make waves locally and internationally, many of its best productions have a hard time reaching their intended audience, which includes mainstream viewers.

The big cineplexes tend to be leery of indies because, with only a few exceptions, they aren’t “commercial” or accessible enough for many people to view and enjoy.

To fill in this all-important blank, we’ve tried to help develop an alternative film circuit.

Logically, it should be school-based, so we’ve helped put up a pilot film viewing club in a local university, even inviting indie filmmakers to interact with viewers after their movies were screened.

Alas, the pilot effort eventually fizzed out, so we were back to square one.

Next, we interested the owner of a restaurant to feature weekend screenings of indie films.

To make the endeavor work, we effected a tie-up with a group of indie filmmakers, who were only too happy to be offered a new way to reach viewers, and to make money besides.

Lack of support

Unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, the resto film club also withered on the vine due to lack of regular support and patronage.

These unsuccessful attempts have made us come to the conclusion that, aside from occasional exceptions like “Kita Kita” and “Heneral Luna,” indie productions can’t earn back their expenses (so filmmakers can produce more movies), because there aren’t enough committed film buffs here to profitably support regular screenings of good indie productions.

We asked the “failed” venue owners how many real film buffs would be needed to support regular indie screenings; and they came up with the “magic” number of 500 film lovers who would go out of their way to watch and support a good indie film per week.

Based on their unhappy experience, it appears that we don’t have that many committed film aficionados.
That can be seen in part as a downbeat evaluation of the effectiveness of our many colleges and universities with Communication departments.

Aren’t they supposed to develop students into appreciators, supporters and makers of good TV-film productions?
If they can’t even produce 500 such graduates, there must be a disconnect somewhere that should be identified and remedied, because the local indie wave can’t rise and crest without committed film buffs’ essential support and patronage.

How to produce more committed film lovers? It would help if Communication teachers themselves were less theoretical in training and became hands-on practitioners.
That way, they would experience the many problems that filmmakers have to contend with on the local scene, and thus become more realistically appreciative of their “hard-won” finished films.

Best of all, teachers should be committed film lovers, actively helping filmmakers to find their viewing place and opportunities in the run, by themselves watching at least one good indie movie each week.

Only when we come up with at least 500 such supportive and determined people, teachers and students both, can alternative screening venues survive and thrive, and indie filmmakers can get the continuing support they need to keep making meaningful and memorable movies.


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