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Top directors weigh in on the ‘new normal’ in filmmaking after lockdown

/ 12:30 AM May 12, 2020

Last full show … Standing room only … Box-office hit … See you at the movies … Will we ever hear those words again when the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is finally lifted and we face the “new normal” way of life? Are movie theaters a thing of the past already?

After we celebrated 100 years of Philippine cinema in 2019, the pandemic suddenly turned show biz upside down. But the movers and shakers of the industry won’t allow COVID-19 to kill their passion for filmmaking. As Pinoys, resiliency is in our DNA. To put it in the vernacular, we are good at “para-paraan” (finding ways).

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The dynamic duo of Antoinette Jadaone and Dan Villegas has started things off via their “Unconfined Cinema” on Instagram, featuring Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz in “Love Team.”

In the time of social distancing, social media comes to the rescue so storytelling can go on and on. Another alternative could be the return of the “drive-in” movies. That would give millennials the feel of old-fashioned dating and romance.

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As we enter this unusual scenario, I asked esteemed filmmakers Joey Reyes, Raymond Red and Joel Lamangan to share their take on “Unconfined Cinema” and their sentiments about how the industry will survive. It will never be “pack up” time for Philippine Cinema.

After marking that centennial year, show biz folk will do all they can to keep the lights on, cameras rolling and action at full speed.

Joey Reyes

JOEY REYES: Different strokes for different folks. Jadaone knows that now it’s a matter of innovation or better yet, survival of the fittest.

Here’s a reality check: The risk of shooting until a vaccine is discovered is great. Not only is it risky or dangerous, but also adding a good 15 to 20 percent to a budget that has no assurance of the ROI (return of investment).

The cost of disinfection, the need for a protocol to insure the health and safety of all people involved are extra burdens to the demands of production. Over and above these is the need for government approval for locations and logistics.

The year 2020 is the year to “survive.” We are not even thinking of profit or moving ahead. If we get through this year “alive,” then we would have succeeded. Right now, even if films and TV productions were given a go signal, it isn’t like we are stepping out of the house and going back to normal.

The world has changed, and so must we. If we want to shoot, we must find alternative ways by cutting personnel, diminishing risk. If we want to stay on, we have to INNOVATE. ACCEPT. ADAPT, then ADVANCE. The world will not be the same world as it was before March 2020. We must swallow that fact.

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Joel Lamangan

JOEL LAMANGAN: Any platform that will give the chance for Filipino films to be seen by its audience is laudable. Tonette J’s idea of sharing her stories through available platforms like Instagram and other social-media venues must be supported.

Our stories must be heard and seen. Filipino images of life must be mirrored in any way possible that will reach its destined audience. New platforms are evolving. These are different times—we must be able to adapt to new inventions, and new ways of expressing our way of life. Let us not be waylaid by technological ignorance and let our audio-visual industry die.

RAYMOND RED: Unconfined Cinema’s “Love Team” was quite ingenious as it definitely was effective in engaging the thousands of fans continuing a tradition of following the myth or truth behind certain celebrity love teams.

It is a format of course that adapts to the “lockdown” situation that we’re all in. But in a way, you can easily classify it among the many effective faux documentaries or unreal “reality TV” that came about with the advent of small portable digital cameras. The downside of such is the limited parameters filmmakers need to work within, thus so many others will be doing the same approaches that it becomes stale eventually.

Raymond Red

Just look at the series of “inspirational” PSA videos online right now. We saw that happen to the explosion of Filipino “indie digital” cinema, as well. But it has reached its plateau and it’s anybody’s guess if it will be downhill from here on.

The bigger question is where we will bring cinema after the pandemic, and how it can remain relevant to viewers in a totally changed world. I quite frankly am distraught with anxiety as I begin to question my own purpose as a filmmaker, especially because I still believe in alternative, radical and experimental cinema.

It is a continuing struggle to open viewers’ eyes and soul to new formats. For now, I don’t really know the answer. But I am not giving up.

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TAGS: Joel Lamangan, Joey Reyes, Raymond Red
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