PH filmmakers to train Burmese counterparts

PH filmmakers to train Burmese counterparts

/ 12:10 AM February 29, 2024

PH filmmakers to train Burmese counterparts

FIlmmaker and educator Mark Meily (extreme left) with the Burmese participants of a two-month-long film course –MARK MEILY/ FACEBOOK

Filipino artists will be helping their Burmese counterparts produce the country’s very own Lav Diaz or Brillante Ma Mendoza with the creation of a film school in Yangon, Myanmar, said film and TV director Mark Meily, who will serve as the school’s director.

Meily and his team have been training Burmese media practitioners for two months to become teachers under the Myanmar Media Development Center (MMDC). “I have always wanted to create a film school,” said Meily, who is a film educator in De LaSalle University, College of St. Benilde and Enderun Colleges. “I noticed that we have a lot of what we call career teachers. This is because of a directive from the CHEd (Commission of Higher Education) for teachers to also have a masters degree. One time, I shared to a university official my aim of creating a school faculty because of this directive. I had an applicant who even has a doctorate degree from a provincial state university, but whose filmmaking experience was only limited to making real estate videos,” Meily began.


“Who do you think I should hire: someone with a PhD but with limited filmmaking experience, or somebody multiawarded like Brillante Mendoza but with no masters degree? Sadly, the university official still picked the one with the PhD. I then said, ‘But I thought we should be learner-centric, I thought we should go for what is best for the students?’ What actually happens is that students learn from teachers who have never been on a movie set or have a very limited experience in production,” Meily, who is currently in Yangon, told Inquirer Entertainment in a Zoom interview.


READ: Joel Lamangan: FDCP limiting exposure to int’l film fests not a good thing

Meily is convinced that, armed with their experience, it would be easier to guide media practitioners to become educators. “Giving lectures to students doesn’t work anymore. I’ve already forgotten what I learned in algebra and have to review them. It’s the same with filmmaking. We only have to guide them while they create a great learning experience for their students,” Meily stressed. “Filmmaking is a skill. The more you practice it, the better you become. It’s like basketball.”

Meily with CMB Film Services president Jim Baltazar, NarraPost head and sound engineer Albert Michael Idoma

Meily with CMB Film Services president Jim Baltazar, Narra Post head and sound engineer Albert Michael Idoma

On a grander scale

Meily then recalled the time when he met CMB Film Services president and managing director Jim Baltazar at a party last October and shared with the latter his frustrations. Baltazar also happens to run CMB Myanmar and works closely with U Win Maw, chair of the Myanmar media company Forever Group that runs the MMDC. “Both of them thought it was a good idea, so barely a month later, I was already in Myanmar to check the facility,” he recalled.

Meily described the MMDC sound studio in Pindaya, Myanmar, as “something similar to Nayong Pilipino, but on a grander scale.” He added: “In fact, we had to climb a mountain to see the overall development of the lot. The MMDC was established in 2011, but had to shut down during the pandemic. It was run like a typical media school that focused on lectures. The good thing about it was that a lot of those who studied there got absorbed and are now working for the Forever Group.”Incidentally, MMDC has partnered with a school in Lyon, France, called CineFabrique. “It has already sent five scholars to France before,” Meily said, adding that he and a group of Filipino colleagues also flew to France in December 2023. When they returned, Meily drafted the plan and curriculum for the school.As of press time, the two-month course was on its 12th day. “English is a challenge, so we have a translator. We were worried in the beginning that they wouldn’t understand what we were saying, but they do,” said Meily when asked to share his observations.

Cinematic place

He said training will then head to Manila in March. “This time, it will be courtesy of CMB. We plan to bring the participants to Tagaytay, Las Casas in Bataan, and to other known location sets. We will return to Myanmar in May and then start formal classes in June,” said Meily, who intends to stay there for at least six months as a consultant and school director.

“I’m excited because Myanmar is such a cinematic place. Religion has a strong influence on their lifestyle. From where we stay, you’ll see young Buddhist monks line up in the morning, holding their bowls. The site is so beautiful,” he said. “The goal is to produce the Lav Diaz or Brillante Mendoza of Myanmar, and for these people to come from our school.”


There’s also the promise of employment after completing the course, he added. “The media industry here is growing and is in need of trained media professionals. If you’re good, you will get hired after you graduate from our yearlong program. We’ve created a framework for that—you’ll train and do your thesis for four months, then do your internship for another two months. You can get hired after a certain number of months. If they like you, you could even get sent to France,” Meily said.

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TAGS: Brillante Mendoza, Lav Diaz, Mark Meily

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