Local filmmakers overcome pandemic challenges to bring out the best in indie – Manila Bulletin


Cinemalaya 2022’s theme “Breaking Through the Noise” was a challenge for filmmakers to continue their craft even amid the challenges of the pandemic. After two years of shifting to an online platform, this year’s festival was also a test of the courage and creativity of local filmmakers, as the Cultural Center of the Philippines reopens for physical screenings.

Raz de Torre, director of the film “Kwits,” said he was one of the first to experience lockdown recording due to his work with ABS-CBN’s “A Soldier’s Heart.” As one of the guinea pigs implementing the COVID-19 Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) protocols, he used what he learned as an advantage for his film shoot.

“The production of our short ‘Kwits’ was plagued by the same anxieties, even though we’ve been dealing with COVID-19 for over a year by the time we got to pre-production. Budget was an issue due to new expenses arising from health protocols, and this was an independent project. There were constant delays due to the different levels of alert, which sometimes became confusing. It took us more than six months between the start of pre-production and the day of filming. Luckily, the vaccination roll-out had improved by then. We felt safer during production,” he said.

Director Maria Estela Paiso of “Ampangabagat” agreed that the pandemic was an extraordinary challenge for independent filmmakers.

“I think the hardest part of filming last year was the logistics of actually filming (the money, the permits, the uncertainty if the alert levels would be raised again, etc.).

“Ampangabagat” premiered in QCinema 2021; the input and output PCR took half of our first slice. We were also delayed for half a month due to the restrictions, which took time in post-production. I think in mid-August of last year I was in the middle of a breakdown because nothing seemed to be going our way. The delays were a nightmare because our cast and crew were locked down in Taytay, so we were stuck waiting for the restrictions to loosen just so we could go to Zambales and shoot. We were also a group of beginners trying to make sense of what was going on. But yes, as the saying goes, easy and useful do not mean the same thing.

Dexter Paul de Jesus, who directed the film “Distance”, for his part had to deal with restrictions and ensure that they followed all the protocols of filming safely, because their priority was mainly the safety of their actors and their crew. This was the case with the film “Mga Handum nga Nasulat sa Baras”.




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