PH International Film Industry Conference, Then and Now – The Manila Times | Episode Movies

I remember going to the Busan International Film Festival in 2016 for my first official mission as head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. It was there that I first became acquainted with the various conferences, panels and intensive workshops available for festival-goers to learn more about the inner workings of the global film industry.


Kara David, Kara Alikpala-Magsanoc, Leni Velasco, Monster Jimenez and Baby Ruth Villarama in the panel discussion on documentary filmmaking.

Kara David, Kara Alikpala-Magsanoc, Leni Velasco, Monster Jimenez and Baby Ruth Villarama in the panel discussion on documentary filmmaking.

I was like a kid in a candy store, learning from international industry speakers to understand more about the full spectrum of filmmaking – from development to film financing to production, including planning, budgeting, packaging a film to proper post-production , audio post-production, film distribution, film sales and archiving.

I remember saying to myself, “If only the filmmakers and industry professionals in the Philippines had access to this type of education, they would feel more empowered to make films not just for the domestic market but for the world.”

They would be equipped with the tools to navigate the global space, learn the fundamentals of international filmmaking, understand the trends outside of our local film industry and how to use these learnings as strategies for their following projects. “

This realization was reinforced when I went to the American Film Market in November of that year, where the film conferences were more structured and specific.

The columnist of the International Film Industry Conference 2018.

The columnist of the International Film Industry Conference 2018.

The columnist of the International Film Industry Conference 2018.

It was there that I delved even deeper to absorb these new insights into the various essential aspects of filmmaking. These have been broken down into specific conference sessions that allow you to grasp the creative and business aspects of filmmaking.

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This experience allowed me to appreciate the current landscape of the local film industry, where through the festival’s film grants and funds we were producing many creative professionals, but not so much individuals who would champion the business side of filmmaking as I felt just as important, if not more so.

I said to myself that since I couldn’t fly in the entire film industry at these international film festivals, we would bring these international film experts to the Philippines.

Armed with a dream of bringing together local and international industry professionals and experts to discuss the latest trends, developments, platforms and collaboration opportunities that will significantly help aspiring filmmakers and producers, I rolled up my sleeves, conceived, developed and designed what would become the International Film Industry Conference (IFIC) that we know now.

But what I thought was the perfect solution wasn’t received as warmly as I had hoped. In 2017, when we held the first IFIC, the local film industry was still very closed. Most films are made specifically for local audiences. Few films have been screened outside of the Philippines, including those that have screened at international film festivals. So the idea of ​​inviting international experts who would share their knowledge of global film trends was very, very new to the industry.

There was a lot of opinion and even resistance to the concept of bringing in best practices that we can adapt because our local industry is so used to how we do things. For the past 100 years, the film industry has self-regulated and people have their own set systems and ways of making films. Bringing in these best practices that would standardize filmmaking felt so foreign and intimidating to most.

During the first film industry conference we literally had to meet with production companies to encourage their employees and teams to attend the workshops and panel sessions. As the concept was new, we created the first year of IFIC, made up of local industry talks and roundtables. IFIC became a platform to discuss the current gaps in the filmmaking community and industry.

While the film industry conference aims to bring global trends and filmmaking insights to the Philippines, the event also became an opportunity to showcase our local industry experts who have gained experience working in the global space.

This also enabled the Philippines to collaborate with various international institutions worldwide. For the first year of IFIC, we brought together the top three international film festivals, Cannes, Berlin and Venice, in a panel to talk about how Filipino films have built a solid presence at their respective festivals over the years.

Six years later, IFIC has found its place and has become a compelling platform and tool to engage and empower our industry professionals to explore opportunities in the global film industry.

Over the years, this program has nurtured producers who are now savvy about international co-productions and how to create better funding structures to fill the lack of funding in our local industry.

New companies have emerged that optimize the opportunities in the international arena. Local productions have created international production divisions within their companies to explore collaborations and partnerships with other countries.

There has also been a significant increase in film companies entering the global film markets to seek promotion, distribution or sales representatives for their films. In terms of attendance, IFIC has grown from 500 participants in 2017 to more than 2000 participants.

This year, IFIC continues to offer an international platform to continue the synergies of the industry by presenting experts and professionals both online and on-site with its new hybrid format. They offer free public sessions on documentary filmmaking, global trends in film distribution and exhibition, incentives and grants for Filipino filmmakers, and funding opportunities.

As IFIC continues to promote regional and international synergies in the film industry, the IFIC’s public sessions for this edition include a round table discussion with the film commissions and agencies of the Asean Republic of Korea on accessing global opportunities for the Southeast Asian film industry and a session on international co-production in Asia.

With this hybrid set-up, accommodating both on-site and online visitors, IFIC attendees will definitely exponentially increase not only Filipino filmmakers but also film industry professionals from around the world. And with this expanded version, this small initiative by the country’s national film agency to bring best practices to our local film industry has now spread its wings to share global industry knowledge, including our own, with the world.

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