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Our ‘Bernardo Carpio’ Short Film Project Takes a Step Forward

This project is a jumpstart to that same endeavor that began almost a decade ago, which had to be shelved due to documentary issues in processing and releasing the second tranche of the budget from the funding agency. We knew that there will always be a right time for this, and after proposing to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in the last quarter of 2019, we received the good news by February 2020 that we got the grant. We planned to use the grant to jumpstart the film, while we do crowdfunding, alongside getting additional funding agencies to jump on board. Then the pandemic happened.

As we still have the NCCA’s support amidst the pandemic, we know at this point we won’t have counterpart funding anymore, or hopefully, sooner or later, when our current state of affairs gets better, something good may come our way.

In a nutshell, we revised and greatly trimmed down the script to focus on the duel between the two opposing forces, the characters of Bernardo Carpio and the salamangkera.

Interestingly, Bernardo Carpio’s plight is something that genuinely resonates these days, as we find ourselves “locked down in our homes,“ just like him locked down between the two clashing boulders of Montalban, Rizal.

Bernardo Carpio strives to free himself from his entrapment under the mountains, while we also try our best to survive this pandemic. This made us all the more determined to push through with the film, despite the major setbacks in our supposed counterpart funding due to the current economic decline brought about by the COVID-19 crisis.

We remain hopeful that by implementing some creative changes to our workflow and the script, we can still produce a worthwhile short film that doesn’t just align with our original intention to promote awareness and contribute to educational materials reflecting our Filipino heritage, it also resonates the experiences of people who are now caught in the middle of forces way beyond their control. There is that sense of imprisonment that people feel these days. The narrative of this Bernardo Carpio film taps into this.

This adaptation focuses on the entrapment of Bernardo Carpio inside the 2 Clashing Boulders in Montalban. It is believed that once he finally breaks free from being locked down underground, it will mark the liberation of Filipinos from the oppression by their greedy leaders.

As we try to help in our own ways and find some means to normalize our lives, make sense of things, and keep ourselves mentally and physically healthy, working on this passion project is something that we feel may help us, as well as other artists who have some means to pursue creative endeavors right now considering our current state of affairs. We also look forward to a successful short film project, despite the need to trim down its running time and resort to some creative decisions to minimize project cost and comply with strict health and safety standards, and hopefully find ways to expand the project in the future.

Background of the Jumpstart of this Project

I am thankful to Tuldok Animation for pushing me to try proposing this project to the NCCA. It was a last-minute decision I plunged into — sending the proposal late at night on the last day of submission. Back then, I wasn’t sure if it is already the right time to go back to the film — but something inside me wanted to really click that “send” button.

I received the notice that I got the grant while I was bedridden at home due to an emergency appendectomy. Indeed, 2020 gave us way too much. Aside from the pandemic in our midst, we had multiple hospitalizations for different family members for varying reasons and even a death in 2020 and it is just August now. When the pandemic came, NCCA gave me the chance to really trim down the project, as they understood the predicament brought by the pandemic. They actually told me I could opt to cancel the grant without jeopardizing my record with them. But after really thinking hard about it, as an artist in the middle of breaking down, I knew that there’s a way to fight, move on, and move forward. I chose to push through with the project with consideration to the practical requirements I needed to work on considering our limited resources.

As a storyteller, I am clinging on to the message I want to say in the film. It has now become way more than just what I envisioned it more than a decade ago. It has now pushed me to mount a short film with that message addressing my current state of mind, my emotional ups and downs, and more than just coming from myself, I believe it also now addresses the challenges many people around the world face in these very trying times. Doing all the needed feasibility studies, I decided to make this into a 5-minute motion-comic film plus another minute or two for the credits.

Tuldok Animation’s Character Design Contest for the Characters Bernardo Carpio and Salamangkera

A few weeks after the lockdown happened, I had a conversation with some Tuldok Animation members and they proposed that we open the project to people who may have some time and resources to come up with character designs for Bernardo Carpio. Early on, I told Tuldok that I am currently working on trimming down the film’s running time and I would also have to start from scratch with all the art works for the project, as my former production team members from many years ago are already engaged in different endeavors, some even already abroad. I told them that I will be starting from the ground up all over again as this may be the best route to follow, considering the many years that passed.

Meanwhile, I reached out to my voice actors and I am happy that they are still on board (actually, all voices were already filmed and recorded years ago). So, independent film actors Arnold Reyes is still Bernardo Carpio and Angeli Bayani is still the salamangkera.

Bernardo Carpio as an epic tale offers a good modality for artists to express themselves, while we also find a means to engage more people through artistic pursuits and related discussions, especially in these quite difficult times we live in. The competition was meant as a means to ignite that much-needed energy during the community quarantine, as we believe that artists can find an outlet in this tale. The ideas of sharing and getting together by like-minded people were what made us push through with this.

While it was clear from the onset that the said competition won’t necessarily or automatically mean the winning entries will end up as our character designs for the film, it is still a possibility upon the agreement we will have with the winning artists. It was also made clear that the artists retain copyrights to their works and anything to be included in the film will also be included in the project’s budget and eventual agreements. Tuldok also looks forward to the possibilities of engaging with the participating artists in a variety of ways, from inviting them for future commercial or independent projects to providing them platforms to share artistic endeavors among like-minded people. Indeed, the said character design competition allowed dozens of artists of different ages and varying artistic experiences to come together and there is that good energy helping light the project more.

I received the Zoom event invite for the announcement of the winners for Tuldok’s character design competition in a not so perfect time, as I had to attend to some important family-related matters. I sent my message to Tuldok’s president Benedict Carandang to read my message to the artists in my behalf.

To all the artists who participated, we hope that in one way or another, we are able to pull you up from your “down moments” during these trying times by focusing your energies in making art works. For the winning character designers Judd Avelino and Mark Jamero, congratulations! To everyone, let us all continue to live and fight the harsh realities we have and may we all come forward as better people in one way or another, while we also try our best to contribute to our Filipino heritage using our skills and talents.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Tuldok core team: Benedict Carandang, Chicken Fernandez, and Dudz Clotario for mounting this endeavor for all of us. Thank you to our fellow Tuldok member Choy Gonzales for putting up the Tuldok event this afternoon as well.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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