What projects sell in int’l film markets, producer Bianca Balbuena reveals | Inquirer Entertainment

What projects sell in int’l film markets, producer Bianca Balbuena reveals

/ 12:10 AM June 18, 2023

Cast of JP Habac’s “Marahuyo Projcet”

Cast of JP Habac’s “Marahuyo Project”

Of all the genre films, horror flicks are the easiest to sell internationally, while local historical and comedy films are the hardest.

This is according to celebrated film producer Bianca Balbuena, whom we asked to share pointers for filmmakers and producers who may be thinking of creating new content, for the big screen and streaming platforms.


“Horror is a universal genre. You can bring it to festivals, and also, you can easily find distributors for it in the international market. You can do a local commercial release for it as well. Its potential to make money is great. It also doesn’t need an A-list cast. It’s the scare that matters,” Balbuena told Inquirer Entertainment over lunch recently.


Balbuena, who is a cofounder and former CEO of Epicmedia Productions, is the newly installed managing director of Kroma Entertainment’s Anima and Secret Menu.

“The action genre is hit-or-miss. It can do well locally, but I don’t see a lot of action films in international film festivals. You need an A-list actor for it to work—if you want to do a ‘John Wick’ or something similar. It’s expensive, therefore, it’s harder to recoup investments,” she pointed out.

Scene from “Hapag”

Scene from “Hapag”


Bianca left Epicmedia and assumed the leadership of Anima (formerly Globe Studios) from Quark Henares in August 2022. “I’m learning a lot about corporate strategies in Kroma. Of course, prior to joining the team, I told them that if they want me to bring Anima forward, like how I did with Epicmedia both locally and internationally, I need independence in choosing my content,” she began.

For Epicmedia, Bianca produced films like Pepe Diokno’s “Engkwentro,” Lav Diaz’s “When the Waves are Gone,” and Bradley Liew’s “Motel Acacia.”

“It’s funny because Kroma’s slogan is ‘Bringing Filipino talents to the world,’ which is what Epicmedia has been doing for the longest time. I wanted to bring a bit of that to Anima, but I also wanted to explore and revive the interest of the local audience. This is promising, especially because today, genre films do well both locally and internationally. That’s what we have been exploring,” Balbuena stressed.

Scene from “Love on a Budget,” featuring Carlo Aquino (left)and Charlie Dizon

Scene from “Love on a Budget,” featuring Carlo Aquino (left) and Charlie Dizon

First anniversary

When Kroma celebrated its first anniversary recently by hosting an intimate media gathering, we asked Balbuena to discuss what the audience can expect from the company in the coming months.


“Love on a Budget,” a coproduction with ABS-CBN Films, starring real-life couple Carlo Aquino and Charlie Dizon, will have its theatrical release in September. “Hopefully, this will help bring people back to the cinemas,” added Balbuena.

Another is JP Habac’s “Marahuyo Project,” which is a coming-of-age series. “It’s been getting a lot of offers from streamers. It will be out by the end of the year,” she reported.

For the annual Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which will have a two-week run in August, Anima is bankrolling two film entries: Samantha Lee’s “Rookie” and Kevin Mikhail Mayuga’s “When This is All Over.”

There is also Victor Villanueva’s “I am Not Big Bird,” which is a male adventure comedy set in Thailand. “We also have tie-ups with GMA Network and ABS-CBN for the two series that we are working on, titled ‘Happy Crush’ and ‘How to Cheat Death.’ We will be getting their talents,” explained Balbuena.

“Direct to the Top” is a talent search for the next Filipino storytellers. “This is really something new to me. I haven’t done any project that’s unscripted, that casts real people and makes the use of cameras less intrusive than they usually are. We’re doing two reality shows, one with Prime Video and another with One Championship. I’m very excited. Not a lot of companies produce projects like this, but we love consuming them on streaming platforms,” she said.

Bianca Balbuena

Bianca Balbuena

‘Something new’

Secret Menu, which produces commercials and music videos, offers brand content solutions, and does live videos and event coverage. “Handling short form materials is also something new to me. I like it because work is very fast. You pitch a story, it gets approved, and you produce it. It has a very fast turnaround. However, facing clients is something else. It’s fun. I like the training,” she said, adding that their project with Ikea Philippines, JP Habac’s “Hapag,” which was released on Mother’s Day won an Asia Pacific Tambuli award recently.

Anima produces podcasts, as well. “It has already come up with 29 podcast titles. They are diverse and speak to specific audiences with specific motivations, just like ‘Paano Ba ‘To?,’ hosted by Bianca Gonzalez, ‘The Sexy Time Podcast’ by the Daza sisters Belle and Ava, and ‘The Linya Linya Show” by Ali Sangalang,” Balbuena reported.


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TAGS: Bianca Balbuena, film producers, horror film, Movies

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