Filmmaking has many faces. It has various intentions. It has varying effects.
For me, film is a magical medium that has the power to combine the many forms of art, science, and even history together (photography and visual arts, sound and music, culture, literature, dance, martial arts, physics, chemistry, and the list goes on) as it expresses and chronicles bits and pieces of life stories and people’s thoughts, words, and convictions. You laugh, cry, and feel for a character while in front of a 4-sided screen in front of you… How more magical can that be? You come out of the movie house jaw-dropped in amazement, or pondering about the film’s message, or reacting to what the story has brought upon you.
Film is a combination of art and science. You have a story. You shoot using your combined artistic pursuits and technical knowledge. You know your story by heart. You have a vision in mind. And at the same time, you know your film stocks, your tapes, your camera, your lighting, grip, and post-production equipment, and the list goes on for all the production requirements of the film.
Film as a combination of art and science — does it really end there? At times, it’s solely a combination of the two. But depending on the intention/s for the film, it has another important aspect that is most likely present in a filmmaking endeavor: the business side of film production. Film becomes a combination of art, science, and business.
How much does a small-budget short film project cost? It depends. If it’s a very minimalist production that is meant for showcasing in Youtube, you can settle for a consumer-type handycam while filming docu-style without much rentals for lighting equipment, then readily edit it in your computer. You convert it to a compatible format for internet streaming and you’re ready to go. But how about if you have a story requiring great production value that you really have to art direct your scenes, block delicate scenes, find a suiting location, rent lighting and grip equipment, provide visual and sound effects during post-production, and require a number of people to collaborate with you? How about if your film is intended not just for internet streaming, but also for exhibition in film festivals, art house events, TV, or film theaters? Now, a consumer-type handycam, low-end video editing software, and a one-person team wouldn’t be a very good idea then.
Whether you intend to show a film without any profit in mind or it’s a film that you want to earn something financially speaking, one thing’s for sure: you will spend at least five digits of budget (in Philippine peso) for it – not unless you are the luckiest person who would be able to gather all the people and equipment you need – all unpaid for their time and effort. But hey, even working for pro bono entails expenses for fuel and food – unless you’re that ‘kind’ that you won’t even bother to let them have free lunch for their free services.
It wouldn’t really be a business endeavor if you are rich enough to provide all the things the production needs – and you are not interested in getting back what you spent for once the film is shown to the public. But then again, especially in this third world country, up to what extent can you actually be this martyr with what you are passionate about? How can you keep on making films if all your assets turn into liabilities because you have to spend everything you have in order to come up with your masterpiece?
As an independent filmmaker myself, having been through the ups and downs of Pinoy filmmaking, I have the conviction to say that making a compromise between the art and business sides of filmmaking is a good route as well. It’s like you need to work everyday in order to have enough money to spend for your food and other needs. And from there, you can utilize your talents and skills to make your life much more worthwhile than just living up with the routine of breathing, eating, sleeping, and waking up everyday. And it’s a real challenge – how you can come up with a worthwhile film – aesthetically, technically, and emotionally with a good marketing value that the people can appreciate as one great package. You want people to see, feel, and realize things that you have come up with in your story… And so it goes… You make a good film to express yourself and your convictions and get your message across… And people will watch your film for its touching cinematic value as an art form and/or an entertainment venue.