Filipino locally producing Bourne

Katherine Visconti
The local producer of the Hollywood spy-thriller Bourne Legacy was once voted 'Most Unlikely to Succeed'

BOURNE TALENT. Lope Juban is the man behind the movie.

MANILA, Philippines – During his days at De La Salle University, Lope ‘Jun’ Juban was voted ‘Most Unlikely to Succeed.’ Years later, Juban is one of the most successful producers in the country.

Philippine Film Studios, his production house, has worked on a string of international titles, including: “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Platoon,” “Born on the 4th of July,” and the “Survivor” series for Israel, Sweden and France.

Juban, who has helped keep international film focus on the Philippines, is now the local producer for “Bourne Legacy.” The spy drama is the first Hollywood film of its magnitude to be shot here and feature Manila as itself, instead of as a double for another Southeast Asian locale. From securing locations, negotiating fees and assembling crew, tremendous responsibility sits on Juban’s shoulders. 

An unlikely candidate

Juban grew up in the shadow of his elder brother Dennis, who headed the family production house after their father passed away.

Juban struggled with his college entrance exams while his brother graduated high school valedictorian and went on to become a chemical engineer. But when his beloved brother died in a horrific helicopter crash in 1978, Juban decided to take over the reins of the family business. 

“I decided to go into filmmaking mainly because of the people who were relying on us, on filmmaking, our crew, our production assistants, our production managers. Because everybody was displaced,” he says.

When he was only 18 years old, Juban asked his mother for five years to steer the business to success. He never looked back. “Once the bug bites you that’s it,” he says.

Since then Juban has established a successful background in production. He once helped light up America’s presidential plane, Air Force One, for an overnight stay at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He created a brochure to show for it with the slogan, “we don’t just light sets, we light airplanes too.”

In 1986, at the height of the People Power revolution, Juban kept the shooting of “Platoon” on schedule. He recalls sitting with American director Oliver Stone in what was then the Manila Garden.

“In front of us there was a long line of tanks going into (Camp) Crame to quell the revolution. So I was telling Oliver Stone, ‘See, it’s a show of force. Don’t worry about it.'”

A few days later, the country’s dictator fled. Juban had good reason to worry since he had secured approval for the war film from Marcos’s Department of National Defense. But he immediately began coordinating with the new government and a week later, filming resumed. 

Helping the Philippines

In the course of his work, Juban has seen his film productions spark local economies. In the span of his four years helping produce the “Survivor” series for France, Israel, India and Sweden, he has seen their set, Caramoan, transform from a 4th class to a 2nd class municipality.

“When we went there 4 years ago there was nothing there,” says Juban. The crew had to carry in the gas for their speedboats by the gallon and sometimes even resort to toting Coke bottles as containers. “Now there are two gasoline stations. Tourism is thriving,” he says.

Each “Survivor” series usually brings in at least 100 foreign staff and crew. Juban explains that their mere presence boosts tourism since the Philippines has been slapped with travel advisories in the past.

He says, “It (filming in Caramoan) has helped the local economy tremendously [but] the more important thing is the image that it has projected.”

Juban explains that he doesn’t try to impress foreigners with the size of his office. He focuses on what he can deliver. “Our name is Philippine Film Studios. A foreign guy once asked what we have in our studios. I said hot air. The Philippines is our studio.”

Jun Juban adds, “We don’t own the key to the islands but we can borrow them for awhile, that was my brother’s tagline.” – Rappler.com

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