Film Clinic Gears Up Participants for Ala Eh! Festival 2012 Film Fest

“In a good film, there are no accidents.”

That was just one of the many important statements of Mr. Edward Cabagnot, our speaker for the Film Clinic held last Saturday, September 8, at the Modesto Castillo Cultural Center in Tanauan City.

One hundred twenty student-participants from different colleges and universities in the province attended the seminar-workshop which was intended to gear them up for the Ala Eh Festival 2012 Film Fest this December.

What happened that day was beyond our expectations. We had a very sleek (and super air-conditioned) venue. We knew we brought together the most talented student filmmakers in Batangas. And we had the best speaker who is entertainingly competent in the film industry.

Mr. Edward CabagnotSir Ed Cabagnot is currently the Director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Media Arts (Film, Broadcast, and New Media) Division. He manages the longest-running indie film and video competition in the ASEAN region, the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video. He is also a founding member of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

Because it was just a one-day event, Sir Ed summed up all he wanted to share – from the basics to the handy tips. But the seminar focused mainly on how to effectively build the backbone of a film – the script.

When you have Communication students under one roof, expect a clever crowd. That made the seminar-workshop a very interesting one especially because Sir Ed himself is a crackerjack. Laughs. The vibe was light, casual, typical film class but way fruitful than, yes, what we had expected.

We were also able to watch award-winning indie films throughout the day. Apart from having them as subjects for discussion, those films Sir Ed had shown was meant to inspire the student-participants who we believe will soon follow the footsteps of Dennis Marasigan, Milo Tolentino, Emerson Reyes, and other Batangueño independent filmmakers.

By the way, here are the top applicants (writers from the proponents) who submitted the synopsis of their proposed short film:

From Batangas State University
Rovelly Joy Mendoza, Ma. Kyizle Nyssa Tañedo, Norelyn Brucal, Kryselle Plata, Marian Marasigan, Giancarlo Escamillas, Roan Lipa, Mac Irish Ruben Dela Roca, Jr., Johnver Carandang, Gelrose Marasigan, Jonnalyn Cadacio, Dyan Erika Manguiat, Claudine Marcelo

From Lyceum of the Philippines University – Batangas
Farah Arcangel, Shiela Mariz Coronel, Mharvie Dimapasoc, Rodette Aguila, Joy Evangelica Agoyio, Irene Katerina Meneses, Jayjay Star Chavez, Michelle Delos Reyes, Rex Abedes, Jr., Angelli Soriano, Emma Rose Ramirez, Audrey Atienza, Michelle Bacsa, Leslie Janine Cadevida,
Dorothy Joy Baer, Ma. Nelia Gloria, and June Tolentino

From De La Salle Lipa
Jom Calingasan, April Joy Marquez, John Kristofer Malabana, Chris William Mercado

From First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities
Benedict Cator, Jerome Haresco, Jamaica Castillo, Ashton Jaira Garcia, Jonalyn Quijano

From University of Batangas
Arvin Mendoza

As organizers of the Film Clinic, our Team was overwhelmed with the positive feedback we received from students and their instructors. Well, it was intended for them after all. We were just thankful and excited to see all their entries for the first Ala Eh Festival Film Fest.

Our sincerest gratitude goes out to all who took part in the Film Clinic and to Ms. Jaida Luistro who represented the Provincial Tourism Office in the event.

Meanwhile, we’d like to share Sir Ed’s notes from his Facebook account, with due permission, don’t worry. 😉 These notes were his before and after posts about the Film Clinic.

_Rants and Rumbles (posted Friday, 09.06.12)

Onwards to the Breach!

What to write about? Tomorrow I’m off to Tanauan, Batangas to conduct a one-day scriptwriting clinic. The project is in conjunction with the province’s Ala Eh! Festival 2012, spearheaded by its Tourism Office. Envisioned to be an annual program to entice visitors to sample the diverse delights of Batangas, the festival organizers decided to jump start a film component in this edition.

The idea was broached to CCP Media Arts a couple of months ago by the Center’s Outreach Department (namely Chinggay). After cryptically inquiring about my sked in the coming months, she asked, hypothetically, if it’s possible to do a scriptwriting workshop in one day.

After an extended lolwrotf, I think answered in the negative. But I quickly added that I’d like to talk to the folks behind this proposal, mostly to see if I could help them to see the folly of their ways. (Sigh)

Why is everybody in such in a tizzy nowadays? Hope it ain’t the “I’m dancing as fast as I can because 12/12/12 is nigh!” thingey. (In any case it’s moot if THAT happens, since we all die anyway.)

Soon after, Chinggay connected moi to the organizers, mainly its tourism arm. The first thing I asked was what the Ala Eh! Filmfest objectives were – and I was quickly dealt a laundry list of must-achieves. It ran from the obvious – the promotion of the locale, mainly as a possible location of future film ventures. To the trad-value-formation blues, highlight local talent, discovery of new artists, ad infinitum.

I remember getting quite fascist/pragmatic about the whole recitation, and telling JR (the coordinator) that it boils down to just this: getting one or two finely-crafted, significantly-storied titles by judging time – which happens to be early December (hope not the 12th!) of this year.

“Yung hindi masyado nakakahiya, at the least!”, was the general tone of my cynic’s aria.

But after chewing on the matter, I reconsidered this doubting Tom Cruise stance. Kids really ARE quite tech-savvy nowadays. And, unless they’re living under the proverbial bato, are uber-exposed to all types of media influences – thanks to the relentless, forward trudge of Technology.

And that the competition’s (yes, there will be awards) target participants – high-school juniors/seniors (no, it’s just for non-pros, at least at this juncture) – get their film fix in a variety of ways. Both legal and not.

And so the idea of a story clinic was born. After I was assured that the majority of the province’s secondary-level schools tapped for the project include, in their curriculum, regular dips into the film app/video prod pool.

This was all starting to get exciting. A reason being the fact that I consider this weekend’s outing as one of the Center’s first salvo in its revival of the CCP Sineklab – a year-round film fiesta/orgy of screenings, workshops, etc, both in/out of Imperial Manila – after a hiatus of eight years.

One of the first items on the menu was a look-see into the festival/competition’s mechanics, including its schedule of deadlines.

And one of my initial reactions was, “Hmmm, these guys did a Sotto on our Cinemalaya rules/regs…” Which the ever-resourceful JR admitted to, having peeked at the Center’s website. (Which really ain’t a prob, since the CCP’s guidelines are meant to shared with all, errant senators included.)

The next step were some gentle nip/tucks meant to make the Ala Eh! mechanics more “swak” with their intentions – in a gist, create an army of excellent Batangueno filmmakers, whose works embody the province’s unique cultural experience. (Whew!)

So tonight I pack – no swim gear/suntan lotion since it’s in landlocked Tanauan – for an 8AM to sawa marathon. Being the OC that I am, I sent, through JR, a list of pre-assignments to our expected 150 young hopefuls. This number represents the fifty submissions of proposed 20-minute short narratives – all to be produced after tomorrow’s session. Those who manage to finish shall then vie for top awards in this December’s Ala Eh! fest. (As to the trophies/cash prizes, all I can say is that Ate Vi surely knows how to pamper/encourage the more cinephilically-inclined of her constituents!)

Each proponent was asked three simple questions:
A) What subject matter, topic, or issue excites you the most?
B) Describe briefly what you feel about it? And how it connects to you exactly?
C) Again in a few words, “paano mo siya i-kwi-kwento?”

Well, at this point I presume all their responses are in JR’s capable hands. This harvest being Square One of tomorrow’s mayhem. Because what I’ll be attempting is nothing less than cramming a whole school-term’s worth of Basic Screenplay-writing inputs into a one-day free-for-all. Including viewing/discussing sample works -mostly award-winning Cinemalaya/Gawad CCP shorts. And, of course, “gently” processing these kids’ “babies”.

Oh well, I’ve got the Powerpoint and my flicks in the usb, plus all my vitamins, so… “onwards to the breach!”

The Batangas Experiment (posted 09.09.12)

“Amazed, that’s what I want to be!,” said the girl in the green tees and glasses.

This was in response to the Expectations Check conducted at the start of yesterday’s scriptwriting clinic in Tanauan, Batangas.

And since the venue – the spankingly new conference hall at the second level of the city’s Gov. Modesto Castillo Memorial Cultural Center- was filled to the rafters with young indie hopefuls, I was forced to do shortcuts.

Thus instead asking each and everyone of the 120 plus participants what they’d like to gain from the one-day marathon, I randomly pointed at the sea of bright-eyed/bushy-tailed faces for a sampling of their collective hopes/fears.

Listening to their avid answers, you KNOW that the day would be a cinch. You know that some real, almost palpable Hunger is there inside these burning hearts. Egging them on, quietly but relentlessly, to be The Next Big Thing, Pinoy indie filmmaking-wise.
And like ancient showman that I am, you know you HAVE to sate this Hunger. Or else.

And sing/dance/do loop-de-loops I did, from our 8:30AM start, all the way to our teary-eyed 5PM end -yes, I’ve bagged another set of new FB pals (hah!).

My opening salvo, from the hip as usual, began with a three-point “you should count yourselves lucky, kids” spiel. Their three boons were:

* one, that Ate Vi and her advisors/staff in the Provincial Goverment of Batangas, particularly its Tourism Office, see the value of Cinema as a means, not just for promoting the province, but in creating a whole new army of Brillante Mendozas or Pepe Dioknos. Thus their inclusion of a film festival/competition component in the Ala Eh! Festival, now on its second edition. (Special kudos to Tanauan Mayor Sonia Aquino for allowing us free use of the venue!)

* two, that an NGO, namely the mavericks behind the Wow Batangas! website -organizer JR Cantos, Gerlie, Dyan, Alva, et al- took the initiative to set the creative wheels in motion. Thus this writing clinic, aimed at giving the participants a better handle for coming out with a finely crafted script for a 15- to 20-minute short narrative, “steeped in the Batangas experience”. (I’m there to primarily make sure they don’t end up touristy, PIA-like shyte! Sorry, Bel…)

* and three, the five schools represented by these enthusiastic bunch were all enlightened enough to allow their wards to attend this Saturday boot camp. These havens of learning include the University of Batangas, Faith Academy, La Salle Lipa (and their extensions), Lyceum, and the Batangas State University. The latter impressed moi even more by bussing in their students all the way from the Capitol in a handsome, aircon shuttle.

I waxed ecstatic about this synergy of government, the private sector, and the academe -a powerhouse combo that’s hard to beat. In fact, in a republique des plaintaines such a ours, plagued by corruption and its tragic consorts, it’s the ONLY way to go(!). Methinks I singled out Cinemalaya’s success as a clear example of the dynamic bolting-in of this potentially at-odds triad. (Oo na, I can’t fekkin’ shake the fest out of my system, messy divorce or ain’t. So live with it, folks!)

Aiming not to disappoint, I threw in my whole bag of CCP Sineklab/Freefest tricks PLUS the batalan sink into the affair. It was nothing less than cramming a whole term of SCRIPT1 inputs/exercises/discussions into a single morning/afternoon thingey. Thus it meant I had too, apologetically, zip through my jampacked Powerpoint aria. Just to share with you how demented the song/dance act was, here’s the sked:

film clinic (3)Morning Session
* Getting to Know You
* “Ano Ba Talaga Ang Gusto Ninyong Sabihin?”
– Starting from the Self
* Screening & Discussion (a Cinemalaya short)
* Input #1: “Film 101 –Playing the Numbers Game”

Afternoon Session
* Input #2: “Two Key Concepts in Screenwriting ”
* Input #3: “The Unity of Plot, Character, Theme & Technique”
* Screening & Discussion (more shorts!)
* Input #4: “Thinking Visually”
* Input #5: “Screenwriting is Imagineering”
* Input #6: “Creating Powerful Storylines”
* Sample Assignments
* A Sample Detailed Sequence Guide

Despite the hecticity, I managed to squeeze in more than my intended number of screenings. This included my perennials,Mansyon by Joel Ruiz and Kultado by Lawlaw Fajardo; plus Durog by Tara Illenberger, Behind Closed Doors by Mark Philip Espina, and two treats from native Lipeno, Milo Tolentino -the scream-inducing Orasyon and bubbly Andong. This last title, as expected brought the house down, spawned quite a number of teary peepers and hanky-honking in the hall.
The goal was to expose ’em to excellent short features in all shapes/sizes/styles. And I think, from the deelite plastered on their faces, they all got the point. Sabi nga nila, sapul to the heart!
One of the afternoon’s highlights was the hour devoted to the processing of the students’ entries (a storyline), and my emailed pre-assignment (three questions: what subject matter/topic/issue concerns you most?; how does it connect to you personally; and how do you plan to tell your kwento?).

Out of the 43 submissions, a good 33 attended the clinic. (In a previous rant I mistakenly cited that these would be highschoolers -naw, they’re more sober college students -again, thank Gawd!).

Each proponent/writer was allowed to bring 1 or 2 of their proposed prod teammates.

If this was a full-blown “Paano Ba Talaga…” workshop, usually running for a week or a series of weekends, I’d have listened to/chugied/shoulder-patted each and every one of the submissions. But this ain’t a relaxed, four-day thing. And I have no ambitions to become the third Pinoy martyr to be canonized. 😉

So we shook up the class, divided them into random groups, and hoped they’d have a blast talking/fighting about their intended projects. During the group reportage held in the apres plenary, I was disappointed that little or no Batangueno blood was spilt. (Hmmm, whatever happened to the famed balisong belligerence of these feisty folks?!)

Each project was thus processed, and we all had a grand time pitching in suggestions to enhance the more interesting morsels. (“Bakit hindi ninyo i-combine ang mga stories n’yo and come out with a joint prod?”, etc)

film clinic (14)This last advice gave us, the organizers and myself, a lightning flash of “What If” Inspiration. That is, instead of just sending the kids “out into the cruel world” to fend off for themselves -with the hope that their wide-eyed enthusiasm would carry them through all the peril-filled phases of production- AND submit a 20-minute gem on D-day (18 November)… what if we collapsed all the 33 submissions into around ten to a dozen choice productions.

AND THEN each of these “finalists” would then be lovingly mentored by a Batangueno indie filmmaker?

Ano, Dennis Marasigan, Milo Tolentino, Kim Garcia, Emerson Reyes, Jet Leyco, etcetera… are you guys up to it? (I have to warn vous, it’s a “for the love of my ninuno’s precious tinubuang lupa” project -at this point, wa dats ang ito for mentoring.)

When the idea in a shift in the competition process was broached to the body, it seemed like a genuine riot was about to break out! But an explosive riot of young hearts/minds/souls bursting with anticipation to get out into the streets and “just do it” -make THAT dream flick.

The only complaint came in the form of “we insist on doing 8 projects, so increase your target, mentored prods!” Finally some palaban Batangenyo spirit spewing out! All to my sadistic glee, of course. I told myself, “these kids SERIOUSLY want to make movies!”
Mission accomplished. Part one, at least. Now to get Dennis, Milo, and the rest of the gang onboard.

“Ala eh, ano pa ba’ang hinihintay ninyo, dudes!”


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