Cebu Int’l Film Festival to hold Pitch Market 2019
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - June 24, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu International Film Festival (Cebu IFF) is setting its sights on making local films international by bringing together local artists with the industry’s decision-makers, all the while aspiring to create a Cebu-based industry and film fund via the Cebu IFF Pitch Market 2019.

“This is our eighth year functioning as Cebu IFF. What we focused on in the past two years is developing relationships with local filmmakers. In the past, we focused mainly in bringing international films to Cebu and asking Cebuanos to watch them,” Cebu IFF President Mel Allego said. “Now, our focus is developing local films and giving more opportunities.”

Cebu IFF will be holding the 2019 Pitch Market as an avenue for local creators to present their ideas and stories. They will also be bringing in producers and investors during the two-day event which will take place on September 25 and 26 at the SAFAD Theatre of the University of San Carlos-Talamban Campus.

On the first day, interested film students and filmmakers can participate in the pitch workshop by Singapore-based film producer Gin Kai Chan. In the afternoon, the selected projects for the Pitch Market will learn about pitch development from Chan. The following day, Pitch Market 2019 will be open to writers and filmmakers to share their projects, followed by an awarding of prizes.

Cebu IFF will be accepting entries for Pitch Market 2019 until July 15.

Chan and Allego are planning to build a Cebu-based fund to support the local film industry so that writers and directors need not travel far to find a producer for their projects. Chan, CEO and executive producer at Silver Media Group, has worked with Discovery, Animal Planet, CNBC, among others. Recently, he partnered with ABS-CBN via Aurora Media to produce the horror film “Eerie” starring Charo Santos-Concio and Bea Alonzo.

“Just before the talk, some people pitched ideas and I learned two things: One is a lack of financing to make it happen, and another is lack in international experience,” Chan said in an interview following his recent talk about film investment at D+B Wine Shop in Crossroads, Banilad.

He said that local artists need a foundation of both funding and international experience to get more films going. At the same time, it’s also important to encourage Cebuano investors to put money in film.

“But the potential is there and the attitude is correct. Having these two will really help a lot,” Chan said.

A film that’s “international” is one that resonates to everyone. Chan said that it’s all about how you make your story speak to audiences. It is important that your audience recognizes your elements and message in their own personal lives.

“It’s about universal issues. So it’s addressing an issue in a way that other people understand. ‘Internationalizing’ is not very complex. It’s about how you make the other party feel like it’s not your story but their story,” Chan continued.

As a producer, Chan shared his insights on how to correctly pitch a story. While respecting ones’ artistic freedom is important in storytelling, pitching a project does not mainly rely on emotion. Chan said it is good to bank on a good story, but what catches an investor’s attention is business. So if you want to get funding for your project, regardless if it is good or not, you have to learn the language of your investors.

“What I always tell people is that we must have a good story. But we see a lot of terrible movies being made. So a good story is not all there is. A good story is of course essential, but it is important to know what the other party wants,” he pointed out. “If the other party is an investor then you need to tell them how this will help them make money. If the other party is a distributor then they need to know why they should represent the film. It’s about understanding who you’re pitching to and how it will benefit them.”

This is only the tip of the iceberg on what participants can learn at the pitch workshop, eventually practice for themselves at the Pitch Market, and execute when they make their films for Cebu IFF 2019 on September 24-28.

“We’re heading towards progress. It’s difficult to automatically have a film industry but we have to at least take certain steps,” Allego said.

“Cebu IFF is a mechanism connecting local filmmakers with the decision-makers, studios, producers and investors. Our focus for Cebu IFF is collaboration and cooperation.”

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