I remember going to the Busan International Film Festival for my first official assignment as head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines in 2016. There I was first exposed to the various lectures, panel discussions and Intensive workshops available for festival goers so they could learn more about the inner workings of the global film industry.
I was like a kid in a candy store, absorbing and learning from international industry speakers to learn about the entire spectrum of filmmaking – from development to film financing to production including programming, budgeting, packaging a film, through to proper post-production, audio post-production, film distribution, film sales and archiving.
I remember thinking, “If only filmmakers and industry professionals in the Philippines could access this type of training, they would feel more empowered to make films not just for the domestic market but for the world. .
They would be equipped with the tools to navigate the global space, learn the ropes of international cinema, understand trends happening beyond our local film industry, and understand how they can incorporate these ideas as strategies for their projects. following. “
This awareness was further reinforced when I went to the American Film Market in November of the same year, where the film conferences were more structured and specific.
There, I immersed myself even more to absorb this new learning on the different essential aspects of cinema. These have been divided into particular lecture sessions that allow you to embrace the creative and business aspects of filmmaking.
This experience allowed me to assess the current landscape of the local film industry, where we were raising a lot of creative professionals through grants and festival funds, but not so much individuals who would champion the business side of filmmaking, what I felt was as important if not more important.
I figured that since I couldn’t drive the whole film industry to these international film festivals, we would bring these international film experts to the Philippines.
Armed with the dream of bringing together local and international industry professionals and experts to discuss the latest trends, developments, platforms and cooperation opportunities that will significantly help aspiring filmmakers and producers, I rolled up my sleeves, conceptualized , developed and designed what would be the International Motion Picture Industry Conference (IFIC) as we know it today.
But what I thought was the perfect solution was not received as warmly as I had hoped. In 2017, when we organized the first IFIC, the local film industry was still very insular. Most films are specially made for local audiences. Only a few films traveled outside the Philippines, including those shown at international film festivals. The idea of bringing in international experts who would share their knowledge of global movie trends was therefore very, very new in the industry.
There was a lot of opinion, even resistance to the idea of introducing best practices that we can adapt because our local industry is so used to the way we do things. Over the past 100 years the film industry has regulated itself and people have their own set systems and their own ways of making films. So bringing in these best practices that would normalize filmmaking seemed so alien and daunting to most.
At the first motion picture industry conference, we literally had to meet with production companies to encourage their staff and teams to participate in the workshops and roundtables. As the concept was new, we created the first year of IFIC, consisting of discussions and roundtables with local industry. IFIC has become a platform to discuss current shortcomings in the film community and industry.
While the Film Industry Conference aims to bring global film trends and insights to the Philippines, the event has also become an opportunity to showcase our local industry professionals who have experience working in the world space.
It has also enabled the Philippines to collaborate with various international institutions around the world. In IFIC’s first year, we brought together the top three international film festivals, Cannes, Berlin and Venice, in a panel to talk about how Filipino films have created a strong presence at their respective festivals in over the years.
Six years later, IFIC has found its permanent place and has become a compelling platform and tool to engage and empower our industry professionals to explore opportunities in the global film industry.
Over the years, this program has nurtured producers who are now well-informed about international co-productions and how to create better funding structures to increase the funding gap in our local industry.
New businesses have emerged that maximize opportunities in the international space. Local productions have created international production divisions within their companies to explore collaborations and partnerships with foreign countries.
There has also been a significant increase in the number of film companies participating in world film markets to seek financing, distribution or sales agents for their films. In terms of attendance, from 500 attendees in 2017, IFIC has now grown to over 2,000 attendees.
This year, IFIC continues to provide an international platform to pursue industry synergy by showcasing experts and professionals online and on-site with its new hybrid format. They offer free public sessions on documentary filmmaking, global trends in film distribution and exhibition, incentives and grants for Filipino filmmakers, and funding opportunities.
As IFIC continues to promote regional and international synergy in the film industry, IFIC’s public sessions for this edition include a panel discussion with ASEAN and ROK film commissions and agencies on access to global opportunities for the Southeast Asian film industry and a session on international co-production in Asia.
With this hybrid setup that caters to both onsite and online attendees, IFIC attendees are sure to exponentially increase not only Filipino filmmakers, but also film industry professionals from around the world. And with this extended release, this small initiative by the country’s national film agency to bring best practices to our local film industry has now spread its wings to share knowledge from the global industry, including our own, with the world.