FILM company TBA Studios is confident in the growing Philippine industry, so much so that it is set to invest P500 million in film production and expanding its microcinema venture over the next three to five years, company executives said.

“At TBA Studios, we are committed to delivering the kind of high-quality films the will uplift and give the Filipinos the intelligent alternative. That is how highly we view the market. We also intend to produce original content for all these different platforms that are disrupting the industry… we see it as a growth opportunity,” Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, President of TBA, said in a statement.

TBA Studios — which is made up of three production companies, namely Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Entertainment, and Artikulo Uno Productions — was formally set up in 2017, although Tuko, Buchi Boy, and Artikulo Uno had already been producing films since 2013 under their individual names. TBA is best known for producing the 2015 historical epic Heneral Luna, directed by Jerrold Tarog. The biopic about Gen. Antonio Luna and his fight against the American colonizers and fellow Filipinos became the highest-grossing historical film in the country after earning P300 million during its run.

Next came Goyo: The Boy General in 2018, which served as a follow-up to Heneral Luna. Also directed by Mr. Tarog, the film followed the life and death at the Battle of Tirad Pass of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar.

Informally called the Bayani film franchise, TBA Studios is currently working on the third installment of its historical series, a film about President Manuel L. Quezon during the Commonwealth period.

The movie is set to start filming in 2021, according to Eduardo A. Rocha, co-CEO of TBA, during a press conference on Oct. 9 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Mr. Rocha and Fernando Ortigas are the joint CEOs of TBA Studios.

TBA Studios will also be starting the crafting of a script for the film adaptation of Arnold Arre’s graphic novel Mythology Class, to be filmed in 2021, again under the direction of Mr. Tarog.

Alongside its big-budget productions, TBA Studios is also known for its smaller-budget films like Mikhail Red’s Birdshot in 2015 and I’m Drunk, I Love You by JP Habac in 2017.

“On average, we produce about three to four films a year… we spend a long time to create our films because, especially with the epics we don’t want to rush… we want to standardize the quality basically,” Mr. Nebrida told the press.

Their bullish outlook on the Philippine film industry is based on Mr. Nebrida’s opinion that far from stagnating, as director Erik Matti opined earlier this year, the country is in fact at the beginning of “another Golden Age.”

“I think we’ve been in a Golden Age since 2013 because look at how many local film festivals there are,” he said.

The country’s first Golden Age of film was in the 1950s, followed by a second Golden Age in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Aside from TBA’s film productions, Mr. Rocha said that they are looking to put up more screens under the Cinema 76 microcinema name.

“We’re looking at locations within Metro Manila and in the region,” he said, before explaining that there is a need to put up more screens so smaller films can reach more people.

Cinema 76 currently has two locations — one screen in San Juan City and two screens in Anonas, Cubao. The theater in San Juan has a seating capacity of 60 people while the Anonas branch can accommodate 70 and 130 people with the latter screen having a DCP projector unlike the mp4 projectors of the other two screens.

Another testament to the booming local film industry is the increasing number of international film outfits looking at having Filipino co-productions.

Mr. Nebrida said they are in discussions on working on co-productions with outfits from around the world, though he is mum on details.

They did announce that they are planning to co-produce a script by Mr. Rocha called Color of Fire which will revolve around a Filipino family during the Battle of Manila in 1945. Mr. Rocha said that the film will probably be their biggest to date as they are in talks with a Hollywood production company to produce the film. He pegs the budget at around “$5 million to $6 million.”

He then clarified that Color of Fire isn’t included in TBA Studios’ P500 million budget.

What will be part of the investment is the ramping up of writing workshops called Writer’s Room in order to help develop more stories and talents.

“We started writing workshops a few months ago and we’ve seen so much demand for it,” Mr. Nebrida said. — Zsarlene B. Chua