Filipino movies

Serious film industry concerns brought to light at Free the Artist Movement forum

Luna Coscolluela

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Serious film industry concerns brought to light at Free the Artist Movement forum

CALL TO ACTION. Attendees take their stand on industry concerns.

Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

‘Historically, the Philippine movie industry is probably the most overtaxed in the world,’ says lawyer Willamore Parada

MANILA, Philippines – Artist welfare organization Free the Artist Movement held a forum called “Cinema at Katotohanan: Usaping Pelikula at Isyung Panlipunan” on Sunday, February 18 at the Gateway Gallery to discuss matters surrounding the film industry.

“We are going to take a closer look at pressing issues concerning the entertainment industry and the country,” actress Astarte Abraham said in her introduction to the event.

WELCOMING DIALOGUE. Free the Artist Movement encourages members of the film industry to engage with one another. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

The forum focused on how the economy and the country’s current laws and regulations affect the film industry and its operations. Industry members shared their ideas on how to enact change and current measures they are taking to achieve their goals.

“We are faced with some challenges: the state of the economics of artistic creation and marketing in the country today,” filmmaker Malu Maniquis said. She highlighted “the prohibitive cost of producing [films] due to taxation, prohibitive ticket prices, and the plight of workers in production” as some of the industry’s main concerns.

The organization presented a comparison of ticket prices throughout the years. They stated that tickets were priced from P80 to P100 in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and P250 in 2019, and are currently priced between P300 and P700. 

They also listed the tax rates imposed on the different aspects of movie production, which range from 5% to 30%.

ENTERTAINMENT TAX. Current taxation regulations impede film industry efforts. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

Lawyer Willamore Parada explained the role of taxation on the industry. 

“Historically, the Philippine movie industry is probably the most overtaxed in the world,” he said.

The current laws on taxation affecting the industry make it more difficult for filmmakers to fund film production as well as keep films in cinemas.

He brought up The Film Development Council of the Philippines, a national agency intended to secure the interests of the film industry, as one existing structure that can help alleviate the industry of its problems.

“The closest to providing fiscal incentive to the film industry…is the Film Development Council of the Philippines, dahil meron silang (because they have) power to provide tax incentives,” Parada explained.

However, he explained that, while there are currently proposed tax measures to support the film industry, they are yet to be approved and implemented. “Panaginip palang po iyan (That is still a dream),” he said.

OUTSIDE THE INDUSTRY. Attempts at charter change threaten all sectors, including entertainment. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

Attorney Kathy Panguban also discussed the recent attempts at charter change (Cha-Cha) and explained why this should matter to members of the film industry.

“Any changes can be made to the Constitution once it is opened up for amendments or revisions,” she said. “Lahat puwede mabago (Everything can be changed).”

COMMUNITY. Joel Lamangan opens discussion to attendees. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

The forum ended with a discussion led by actor and director Joel Lamanagan on the possible solutions to these issues. 

“Nakita natin ang problema: amusement tax, ang taas ng bayad sa sine, walang nag-proproduce, walang trabaho…napakaraming problema (We have seen the problems: amusement tax, high ticket prices, lack of production, lack of jobs…there are so many problems),” he said. “Ano ang maaaring gawin ng industriya? (What can the industry do)?”

ALLIANCE. Lui Manansala proposes forming an alliance among film organizations. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

“Baka kailangan natin ng isang alyansa [ng mga organisasyon sa industriya] (Maybe we need an alliance of the different organizations in the industry),” actress Lui Manansala suggested. 

She highlighted how the film industry is currently divided into different organizations without a uniting structure and an alliance would allow them all to come together. 

“Para mas madaling pagkaisahin sila (So it will be easier to unite them all),” she said.

CURRENT MOVEMENTS. Rez Cortez shares plans to bring the film industry together. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Director General Manny Morfe and actor Rez Cortez echoed the call for cooperation in the industry and shared their current efforts to push for this.

“Kami sa Film Academy naniniwala sa unity (We in the Film Academy believe in unity),” Morfe said on behalf of his organization.

“Dapat magkaroon ng summit [para mag-usap ang] bawat sektor sa paggawa ng pelikulang Pilipino para malaman kung ano ba ang gusto natin,” Cortez stated. 

(There should be a summit where each sector of the film industry can talk with each other, to find out what our needs are.)

He acknowledged that this would be no easy feat and stated that FAP is currently in the process of communicating with government agencies to ask for support in making this happen.

CALL TO ACTION. Attendees take their stand on industry concerns. Luna Coscolluela/Rappler

While there is still a long way to go before the film industry can achieve the change its members are hoping for, there is a continuous effort to make it happen. On February 12, the Senate approved the third and final reading of the Eddie Garcia Bill, which is meant to ensure the rights and welfare of workers in the industry. –

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