Developing the film industry will boost Cebu’s economy said Gin Kai Chan, a Singapore-based financing expert with focus on film production.
Chan is chief executive officer of Silver Media Group, a private media fund, and president of the Southeast Asia Audio-Visual Association (SAAVA) executive committee. The SAAVA is a non-profit association that seeks to unify media producers in the region.
“Investing in commercially viable projects can help the Cebu media and other industries grow,” Chan said when he made a presentation on investing in films during the opening night of the Cebu International Film Festival held at Ayala Center Cebu.
First, he said, a developed film industry here could bring international co-productions of films to Cebu and create media jobs. Shooting films would create demand for filming or non-filming related jobs and service, like carpentry and costume making, Chan maintained.
However, he urged Cebu filmmakers to focus on producing films for international release. Instead of targeting only the Philippine market, local filmmakers should look at a broader market.
“Why concentrate on a few million people when your target can be more?” he asked. By going international, a filmmaker can achieve economies of scale, Chan added.
Having a vibrant film industry in Cebu will also prevent brain drain, Chan said. When he shot the film 100 yards in Cebu, he had to bring in some crew from Manila, he pointed out. “There is a shortage of jobs here for the media industry,” he added.
Also, having international co-productions shot here will allow transfer of skills and in turn, help Cebu filmmakers produce for international release, Chan said.
At the same time, a developed Cebu film industry will boost tourism and help other industries like food, hotel, transport and retail sectors, among others.
Chan cited his experience in shooting many scenes in the feature film 100 yards here in Cebu. “I really enjoyed shooting 100 yards here. I love Cebu. It’s a very beautiful place,” he said.
The feature film 100 yards is about a top American football quarterback who comes to the Philippines to look for his missing mother who came here to do mission work in an orphanage.
Cebu is a good location for filming, he said, because he found that all the things he required for shooting 100 yards are here. Cebu has competent, very strong technical crew, Chan pointed out. Even those who did not have experience in international film production were very keen to learn, he added.
Since Chan has been involved in filming in different countries, he encountered different film crews. “We have met some of the best that we have met in other countries (here in Cebu),” he said.
Meanwhile, Ara Chowdhury, filmmaker and Binisaya Films Festival director, noted that Cebu still don’t have a cinematique, a small motion-picture theater or moviehouse, to help promote local films.
Chowdhury said that this will serve as a motion picture hub for Bisaya classic and contemporary films.
The local film industry is also hampered by the 30 percent amusement tax imposed by Cebu City on movies and other entertainment shown here.
According to Chowdhury, government can also help the local industry by changing the opening dates for Filipino films to Fridays instead of Wednesdays.
She suggested that government should offer financial incentives such as seed funding for projects that promote national consciousness and giving tax breaks to local filmmakers to encourage local productions.
The Cebu International Film Festival (CEBU.IFF) aims to gather global filmmakers to celebrate the art and craft of filmmaking and promote valuable cross-cultural partnerships. One of its goals is to revive the Visayan film industry and support the development of Philippine-produced films that have a global reach.