WWII documentary wins ‘Best Pitch’ at FDCP and MPA pitching showcase

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A DOCUMENTARY about Filipina spies of World War II won “Best Pitch” at the recently concluded pitching showcase conducted by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in celebration of the World Intellectual Property Day.

Looter by Jayson Bernard Santos bested 21 Filipino feature and documentary projects which were presented during the two-day forum/pitching showcase held on April 26 to 27 at the Novotel Manila Araneta Center in Quezon City.

Mr. Santos won a $5,000 grant from the MPA and will have the chance to participate in a four-day Film and Television Immersion Course in Los Angeles, California.

Looter, a documentary which combines “archival footage, interviews and dramatized sequences,” according to a FDCP press release, tells the story of Naomi Flores, a covert operative who, along with Lorenza Amusategui (and her husband Ramon) and Filomena Guerrero, among others, worked against the Japanese during the Second World War.

Keith Sicat’s Unos, a full-length feature and sequel to his sci-fi film, Alimuom, which was an entry to the 2018 TOFARM Film Festival, left the pitching showcase a runner-up.

“Our films hold a lot of promise and potential to compete in the global market. Having events like these pitching showcase and lecture series is a huge help to our filmmakers for them to learn more about tapping into the international audience and have better chances in penetrating world cinema. They will also be empowered to bring more exceptional stories to the world, especially now that they have a deeper understanding of IP rights,” said FDCP Chairperson and CEO Mary Liza B. Diño-Seguerra in the press release.

Preceding the pitching showcase was a forum celebrating World Intellectual Property Day with topics ranging from Film Distribution and Intellectual Property Rights, to Pitching Essentials.

During one session, Martin Gallery — head of international sales and distribution of Australia’s Odin’s Eye Entertainment — stressed the importance of getting film sales agents early in the pre-production of films, especially independents.

“If the film is already made and there’s no sales agent representing them, it might mean there’s a problem with the film — that’s how it usually looks,” Mr. Gallery said.

Film sales agents specialize in segmenting and selling rights to individual territories.

“I don’t want your films to only be shown in your countries,” he said before explaining that the film industry is an international market and thus filmmakers should set their sights on getting releases in foreign territories, a thought echoed by Ms. Diño-Seguerra during her opening speech.

“The film industry is a global industry… now the Philippines is opening up to the world,” Ms. Diño-Seguerra said before adding that the lecture series was meant to help filmmakers know about their intellectual property rights and help them move beyond Philippine shores, especially in a film industry which has been “domestic and insular” for the longest time.

Film scripts including a cast list (“there should at least be someone internationally recognized even if it’s a supporting role”), interviews with the director and producers explaining the film, and pegs are among the bare minimum of things sales agents require to consider if a film is worth representing, according to Mr. Gallery.

Getting a sales agent early on, before the shooting starts, can also be used as leverage when trying to get investors to fund the film, he said. — Zsarlene B. Chua