Inside a condo unit in Magallanes Village, a group of five is cooking up an uprising – no, not with swords and shields or guns and steels, but with sheer passion for the art of filmmaking.
The Rebelde Creatives, composed of award-winning film Director J.E Tiglao, Producer Andy Valenzuela, Production Manager Chloei Capili, Head Writer Boo Dabu, and Unit Publicist Yousef Wahab, are a team of young independent filmmakers out to spark a revolution in the age-old industry of film.
Beginning of rebellion
The team was founded by J.E Tiglao, the award-winning director of internationally-acclaimed film Onang. “It was originally SINE TANGLAW,” he reveals. “Tanglaw kasi ka-tunog ng Tiglao. Pero I realized it’s not about me anymore. It’s about the whole team.”
Onang, J.E’s first Cinemalaya entry back in 2013, was nominated at the 37th Gawad Urian and had also made waves in the international film community by having its world premiere in the Rhode Island International Film Festival in the United States. His film Gamu-gamo sa Takipsilim had also made it to Tropfest, the world’s largest short film festival.
Even with these achievements, the 23-year old director and the rest of the team would agree that getting into the film industry is like passing through a needle’s eye, and most of the time, the needle is nowhere to be found. It’s tough, and sometimes, fresh graduates like the team’s production manager Chloei, who took Communication Arts in La Salle, find pursuing a career in film almost the same as not earning the average salary of a degree holder.
But Chloei shares, “Okay lang na wala akong 15k per month, basta nasa film ako,” revealing that her passion is enough for her to choose and stick to the path of filmmaking.
One of the biggest stints she has had was in the production of Erik Matti’s Kubot. These stints continued when she met Andy, the Producer of the team and the owner of the unit they are all staying in.
Andy was a Film student in Benilde back then. Before going to Benilde, Andy was a student of Bigfoot International Academy for film and Television in Cebu. Although she stopped going to school, Andy continued learning film production by going to a lot of workshops that later helped her develop the skills she needed to become Rebelde Creatives’ producer.
Andy’s first break was her involvement in another indie film entitled Rekorder, and since then she has been doing production work spanning from local to Korean films. But really, what is so rebellious about them?
While the rest of the team started from the indie film scene, Boo, the eldest among them, had a lot of experiences to share while working under mainstream films. He originally wrote the story of the horror film Pagpag, and he shares how exhausting it was for him to be working under the pressure of finishing the story while modifying it to adapt to celebrities who will play the roles. “Ang ginagawa kasi nila, naghahanap sila ng sikat, tapos gagawan nila ng story,” he explains, saying that films should be “concept-based and not celebrity based.”
He would later quit halfway through the project. “You can’t force me to create,” shares Boo, expressing his disdain towards the system that runs in conventional filmmaking.
Later on, J.E would find Boo, Andy, and Chloei on the same page, who all felt the same discontent to the hierarchy and inner workings of film production. “Pangit yung nagtatrabaho ka tapos may naapakan kang ibang tao. Lahat naman sa crew napapagod, so dapat pantay pantay”, shares Andy and Chloei, while recounting their experiences working under Cinemalaya film entries.
Passion plus connection
The team believes that filmmaking is collaborative work. Connecting with every person on the team is very crucial and important. ”They say ang trabaho dapat walang personalan, but I believe in filmmaking, trabaho ay personalan. Dapat kilala mo bawat isa,” shares director J.E. “We are in the process of memorizing each other.”
This is what they learned upon their individual experiences working on different projects, and in order to share this, the team initiated FILM KAMP, a workshop open to everyone who wants to learn the art of filmmaking. J.E explains, “The problem with some directors, filmmakers, they want to keep to themselvesyung mga natututunan nila, and this is what keeps Rebelde Creatives apart from them.”
The beauty of filmmaking workshops like the SINE KAMP lies in the speakers and mentors. Sometimes, a formal education in film falls short in instilling in its students the soul of filmmaking.
Yousef, the unit publicist, was a former Film major in College of Saint Benilde. But because he was more interested in learning the art more than the intricacies of films that will sell, he dropped out from school. “I never really learned the soul of filmmaking there. I care about the art and the passion [behind it]”, he shares.
Production House. It’s basically what differentiates the films Rebelde Creatives makes from the ones we normally see on the mainstream big-screen. Because they lack money and big producers such as Star Cinema and the like, indie filmmakers have to find ways to finance their operations.
Andy, the producer, shares their financial strategy. Their first option is executive producers – to ask for their help in producing the films. Then, there is what they call intimate funders – a fancy term they invented for family or friends who help greatly by giving financial assistance.
Lately there has also been the option of crowd funding, which they describe as forming a platform online for people to do pledges (or even simply donate). There are also outside sponsorships of all kinds, from their contacts in animation companies who create logos and get free advertising in return or from camera companies (such as Canon) from whom they borrow cameras and then acknowledge these companies in the films as another form of advertising.
How do you usually get creative juices flowing? For this group of passionate artists, the creativity can come from anywhere – but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some help. Occasionally, they find that swimming does them wonders: At first they’re enjoying the pool, but the next moment they’re conceptualizing and taking notes on their smartphones.
When asked how their usual storyboard goes, director J.E. says, “We ask everybody to go in front then write anything that comes to his/her mind on the whiteboard. We’re more of visual, kaya most of the time we draw.” As much as possible, they brainstorm together as a team. Boo stresses the importance of this, referring to how he works face-to-face with their director when coming up with ideas.
Boo fondly tells the story of when he and J.E. went on a trip to escape the distractions of social media and used nature as inspiration for their creativity. He shares how just gazing at the stars could fuel up their creative processes.
The art of independent filmmaking remains strong in today’s culture, marking its territory and letting the voices of our youth and society be heard. Though there are undoubtedly many challenges for these artists to face, they know that they will continue to pursue their mission of bringing passion to life, from ideas to conceptualizations, to awe-inspiring scenes on the big screen.