The future of the industry

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
The future of the industry
Dito at Doon, TBA Studios’ first pandemic production, is directed by JP Habac and topbilled by Janine Gutierrez and JC Santos (left). The film is now available in over 60 countries and four regions worldwide through the film company’s premium videoon- demand TBA Play.
STAR / File

As the movie industry mantra says, the show must go on. TBA Studios president Vincent “Ting” Nebrida assesses the situation with an unblinking eye.

Were you happy with the result of Dito at Doon, your company’s first pandemic production?

“We knew from the start that the results would be different than a theatrical release. But despite the limitations, we are more than pleased by the people’s reception and reaction to the film. In fact, we are currently full steam ahead with our international promotions for Dito at Doon after getting so much positive feedback.

“Now, Filipinos abroad would like to see it as well. So, starting last Saturday, May 1, viewers outside of the Philippines are finally (able to) watch Dito at Doon. It is available in over 60 countries and four regions worldwide through TBA Play, a premium video-on-demand (PVOD) that we recently launched. It would be present in such territories as North America, Canada, Middle East, North Africa and Europe. As early as last week, we’ve already gotten reports of early bird tickets sales! We are really proud of Dito at Doon and couldn’t be more thankful to everyone who supported it and kept it going.”

Do you plan to produce more films, maybe on a pandemic-adjusted budget?

“We have to be prudent until theaters open once more. But the show must go on. Furthermore, we already made a film about the pandemic with Dito at Doon.”

Have your directors adjusted very well to the new normal limitations of filmmaking?

“Producers, filmmakers and key production staff are aware of working smartly to keep budget tight, but also taking safety protocols into consideration. Everyone from above-the-line to below-the-line is more open to think and work creatively with regard to what is available due to limitations. Our priority, of course, above all else is the health and safety of everyone from project development through post-production, marketing, distribution and eventual release. We are still in an adjusting period.

TBA Studios president Vincent ‘Ting’ Nebrida

“Working closely, open dialogue and constant communication with other production groups as they (and we) share our new normal production experiences, help us in getting through this together. This tremendously helped all of us in preparing for Dito at Doon, our very first film shot in a production bubble last December 2020. Thankfully, we wrapped the production with zero positive COVID-19 cases.”

What big projects have you put on hold (is the Benjamin Alves’ Quezon movie one of them)?

“We had several projects where we had to reschedule production just to accommodate the new safety guidelines and restrictions. One of the projects that we’re very excited to move forward with is Golden, a musical dramedy about a group of homeless gay seniors who reunite and revive their former drag queen performances to raise funds for a retirement home.

“As for the Quezon movie, director Jerrold Tarog and his team are constantly at work on the project. Pandemic or not, it just really takes a lot of time to work on a historical film.”

Have you explored all the online platforms available?

“Currently, we have three major digital content platforms. We have Cinema ‘76 @ Home to cater to the local audience. We are offering beyond streaming engagements with Cinema ‘76 @ Home. True to the spirit of our micro-cinema, Cinema ‘76 Film Society, the virtual platform will have dynamic programming and will be a place for movie lovers to converge and share their experiences on film and entertainment. We have several events lined up throughout the year, as well as new films coming soon.

“TBA Play is relatively new, but we’re making strategic partnerships abroad to further widen our reach. One of which is our partnership with TVCO, an Italian-based film distribution company, which will be instrumental in tapping key markets in Europe. Then, we also have our TBA Studios YouTube channel which saw significant growth in subscribers, with more than 100 million views in the past year alone.

“On top of these TBA Studios platforms, of course, we are also continuing to work with major streaming platforms such as Netflix to give our audiences the best chance to access our projects.”

How do you see the future of the film industry (optimistic or pessimistic)?

“Everyone knows that the entertainment industry was one of the most badly affected by this pandemic and we were not spared by those difficulties. Despite everything, we continue to be hopeful. In order to stay viable and relevant, we had to innovate. And for that, we are very fortunate to have the support and leadership of Mr. Fernando Ortigas and Mr. Ed Rocha.

“Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, we shifted our energy and resources to creating unique solutions to address the unique challenges that the past year presented. And we see that kind of resilience and creative spirit across the industry! We are excited and hopeful for the future.

“Like everyone else, we do miss being on a set with our production team. We miss crying and laughing in the cinema with friends and family. But until then, we will continue to produce fresh and high-quality content for everyone and offer alternative platforms in the safest and most convenient way possible.”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)


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