Year after year, complaints are voiced about the state of Philippine Cinema. “Too many generic romantic comedies,” people tend to say. “And those fantasy epics with terrible effects and bad acting.”
When the Metro Manila Film Festival rolls in with the Christmas scene, opinions on its presence are divided. Some see it as a chance to see what new and interesting releases the Filipino film scene has to offer. Others think of it as essentially forcing people to watch that year’s offerings, which only contain a few watchable flicks in a parade of garbage. The rest are seemingly indifferent, watching whatever’s showing until January comes and foreign films can be screened again.
The problem with the local film scene is that it’s “deceptively democratic,” since the big movie studios think they’re making what the people want. While rom-coms starring famous “love teams” continue earning profits at the box office, people have long since started to tire of their repetitive and formulaic nature. There is a whole world of potential in Philippine Cinema, with many aspiring filmmakers dreaming of putting new and original ideas on the silver screen. Also, our country’s cultural backdrop and social issues are a breeding ground for cinematic social commentary unlike anything else in the world.
However, as with anything new and untested, this new breed of moviemakers lacks confidence from prospective investors. The industry is comfortable with the status quo, preferring to continue their successful line of output even though its artistic quality has gone rather stale.
Where will these new filmmakers go then, to find support for the film that may finally give them
much deserved recognition? How will the average moviegoers get the fresh theater experience that they long for?
Enter “Crowdsourcing,” a type of funding that connects creators directly to the people who support them. The basic premise is this: The aspiring creator of a given work needs funding, so he generates a target amount of capital, then solicits from the general public. People who wish to see this work made then give some small amount, and the accumulated gains from a large enough pool of supporters will eventually yield the amount needed. The creator gets to make his desired project, and his supporters get to enjoy the output that they helped create.
Crowdsourcing is attractive because it is democratic. As with the case of supply and demand, people pay for the projects that they truly deem worthy and desirable. The difference between this and buying tickets at the box office is that the decisions are made BEFORE the final product is, and the amount of executive meddling (as with a large film studio) is reduced.
This form of capital accumulation already exists in websites like Kickstarter, Subbable, and Patreon. Because of the existence of these sites, people have established businesses and art careers because of massive support from people around the world. If an equivalent were to exist for the Philippines, if Filipino filmmakers could tap into this valuable resource, then perhaps the independent film industry has a chance at competing with the mainstream institution.