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Philippine Filmmaking Today

As a source of truth, entertainment, and artistic expression in the country, Filipino filmmaking, whether in the commercial or the independent circuit, has developed itself as a locus of national culture and identity – Philippine films have influenced Philippine culture and vice-versa.

After a tumultuous time, Filipino filmmakers are now starting to make bigger waves both in the local and international film circuit. The digital revolution has a big contribution to this as a number of them find more opportunities in making digital films today. More and more grant-giving bodies are getting into the picture as well. And as most of the independent films are the ones consistently bagging the most honors in award-giving bodies and film festivals both inside and outside the country, more and more people are becoming more interested in watching indie films. And along with this, a number of producers are now opening themselves to the “new breed of filmmakers” as they collectively provide such a spark of hope for the industry.

The main challenge of the Philippine film industry is how to address the issues on heavy taxation, along with other concerns including piracy, budget limitation affecting both the creative and technical aspects of the filmmaking process, the need for an updated, well-developed industry system in order to compete with the mighty Hollywood films dominating the local theaters, the lack of effective film policies and laws to protect the artists and their craft, the lack of a national film archive, among others.

As a powerful art medium, films can help shape societal values and enlighten the people in many respects. It wouldn’t hurt to subsidize or further promote projects that can serve as a sort of encouragement or an effective form of rewards system to deserving films. This can be a great contribution for the people’s growth as a nation by advocating Filipino values, arts, and culture – which goes beyond the financial rewards of very big taxes for the government.

As the industry starts to find its way back, the rising graph showing the growth of the Philippine film industry is something to look forward to. On a positive note, the mark of Filipino films reflecting its general limitation on film budget, knowing that the Philippines is still a developing country, becomes a challenge for filmmakers to make the best of the storytelling medium without much dependence on special effects and technical advancements. Filipino films, both art films and commercial films alike, usually take advantage of the digital medium, mainly HD, HDV, and DV formats, for their films.

Sometimes, the compromising of shots and art requirements because of time constraints and lack of budget become unavoidable. And these issues usually become apparent on the limitations on picture quality of some films. And yet, playing around with these limitations is definitely training Filipino filmmakers to become more effective storytellers amidst the lack of resources. And it looks like the trend right now is that Filipino films concentrate with the concept, story, acting, and other aspects of film production to keep up with its technical shortcomings. And looking into the global scene, as a great number of Filipino films are garnering awards and good reviews in various film festivals from Cannes to New York to Pusan, the said trend is now becoming the identity of Filipino films… Most may be made with low budget and the technical aspect may be a little inferior if readily compared with the regular 35mm films expected from other countries with stable film industries, but the storytelling of Filipino films becomes its major source of heart and power.

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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