By Ma. Glaiza Lee, Contributor
For award-winning director Brillante Mendoza, filmmaking is not just about the director deciding on everything. He believes that film is a product of a good teamwork.
“From the cinematographer to musical director, sound designer, editor, production designer and down to the actors, everybody is a storyteller. Everyone should, and can, contribute to the final output. The actors tell a story through their characters. The cinematographer doesn’t only take the shots, he tells the story by identifying the focalizer of the scene and shoots around it. The musical director heightens the emotions through the music,” shared the man behind Ma Rosa, the film that gave actress Jaclyn Jose her Best Actress award at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Mendoza believes that his role as a independent film director comes with the responsibility to give back by developing future filmmakers who have the passion and commitment to truthful storytelling.
“It has been my long-term advocacy to reach out to the young generation. I came with this realization when I was starting in filmmaking. Walang audience ang mga pelikula ko, except for the cineasts. Since I couldn’t tap the mainstream audience because it wasn’t their film preference, and I couldn’t do anything about it, I have to develop my own audience by doing film screenings, organizing film festivals, and conducting workshops on film appreciation and education,” said the director.
He found a good partner with Maybank, a company that shared his vision of reaching out and developing young minds through cinema. For the second year, Mendoza provided mentorship to young filmamakers who were selected to attend the two-day CineMaybank filmmaking boot camp recently at the Legend Villas in Mandaluyong.
Over 100 students from 27 major colleges and universities participated and interacted with panel of experts including film directors Zig Dulay and Raymond Gutierrez, cinematographers Joshua Reyles and diego Marx Dobles.
During the two-day boot camp, the director delivered talks and conducted break-out workshops. He had held one-on-one mentoring sessions with the young filmmakers to hear their storyline and give advice on how to improve it.
“They tend to explain their film. It should not be the case. As a filmmaker, you don’t have to explain your film; let the film do the talking. Lahat ng gusto mong sabihin, sinasabi na ng film mo. I listened to them as they explain their concepts and ideas, but I’d ask them: how do you translate that visually?” he observed.
He pushes the film students to stick to reality when creating their films, not based on “imagination.” He called this the “found theory,” a principle he uses in all his films. He believes, that if you use realities as anchors of your films, no one can question your story.
“I came from a different school of thought in filmmaking. My works seem like a docu-drama, straight from real life. I’m an anti-thesis of Hollywood and mainstream. These young people look up to Hollywood and the mainstream. We know that Hollywood and the mainstream are not realistic. I told them to un-learn what they have learned from mainstream cinema. Hinihila ko sila sa realism kasi ‘yun ang kaya nilang gawin at this point in time,” said the director.
For Mendoza, what sets a good film from the bad is the content. “A filmmaker should focus on the content. That’s the important part of the film. If you have an interesting content, everything will come together.”
He observed that the film industry has been thriving because of technology.
“It democratizes the industry. But that’s the danger. Since masyadong na-democratized, kapag marunong kang mang-anggulo or gumawa ng eksena, filmmaker ka na agad. It should not be the case. Mahaba ang proseso ng pinagdadaanan para maging filmmaker. It is not just about angling or using camera or knowing how to edit,” said Mendoza.
Humanizing financial services
The film boot camp is what makes the CineMaybank Short Film Competition unique. It was designed to start the creative journey of the young filmmakers, and keep them on the right track. Expected outputs of the bootcamp included creating concepts, polishing storylines and shooting scripts. Director Mendoza will be there in every step of the filmmaking.
“It is with this mission of ‘humanizing financial services’ that we launched CineMaybank last year as a flagship event in celebrating Maybank’s 20th year of operation in the Philippines.
The 2017 CineMaybank was a great example that proved of what happens when we unleash the skills and the imagination of the Filipino’s young people. In this country, if we give all of our young the best opportunities, technology and resources, there’s no telling what they’ll create,” said Maybank Philippines chief executive officer and president Choong Wai Hong.
Last year, CineMaybank shortlisted 24 short films that competed for the best films and best individual awards. The competition brought Maybank closer to 27 major academic institutions in Metro Manila and some nearly schools.
“The best part of last year’s CineMaybank was collecting the gems in the short films that portrayed our corporate values and gave meaning to our brand. This year, we received a significant number of submissions that came from all across the country — actually even came as far as Zamboanga, Davao, and Ilocos,” shared Hong.
With Mendoza as its artistic director, Hong hopes that these young filmmakers will not only produce great short films.
“Rather, we hope that your creative outputs will be great examples of how young people are making a difference all over the country through your various stories of hope, courage, change, inclusion, patriotism, told in the way that your personal character will be best visually essayed – compelling, powerful, insightful at the same time fun, funny, lively, colorful; amidst some of life’s glooms and rough rides,” said Hong.
Accredited by the Commission on Higher Education and in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the competition will culminate with the Gawad CineMaybank, where the winners will be announced, slated this November at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater in Bonifacio Global City.