This whole week (I consider Sunday the last day of the week, Monday the first), the Film Department of the College of St. Benilde had been celebrating the One La Salle Film Festival. It was a week-long celebration of the tenth year of Benilde Film. We had invited delegates from various film schools in the country (even the provinces) and screened student short films (and alumni films) throughout the week and held forums with industry professionals.
My involvement had been minimal. I had shoots scheduled before the announcements of the date and I had class I couldn’t miss. I was able to sit in on the Friday schedule, my only empty slot in the week, and attended a career talk with industry representatives from the indie film scene, producers from Quantum films and CinemaOne, Star Cinema, and streaming giants Globe Studios and iFlix.
The whole department and the students had been in a dizzy, running around and getting everything ready the week before, and they were even busier during the week itself.
On Friday, the only day that I had to attend the activities, I bumped into Olivia Lamasan of Star Cinema. We had been in negotiations with T-Rex, the studio that is producing the film that I’m working on, and we said hello.
I was so happy that she remembered me. She knows so many people and I can’t imagine she’d remember every one.
But she had read a pitch I had made for a Magic Temple sequel, which she told me personally that she loved. And presently, she had read one of the earlier drafts of my new script, the project with T-Rex, and was happy to tell me that we would be working together on it as she would be coming in as co-producer for the use of their talents.
At One La Salle, when we got to say “hello,” and she told me that we would be working together, she told me that I should submit any more concepts or pitches to her in the future. Later, after watching the forum, Kriz Gazmen (Black Sheep / Star Cinema) reiterated the offer to send them pitches.
They said the work was edgy and fresh and they wanted to see more of what I can do and what I can offer.
I was about to say that when you do good work, you will get recognized for it and the work will follow up. But I deleted that whole sentence and wrote this new paragraph because I remembered my upbringing and my pedigree. I will always have a foot in the door and I will always be on the radar of everyone in the industry because of my last name. I am checking my privilege.
Instead, I will highlight how many of the student films were recognized by the producers and the industry professionals during the screening. The teams from Star Cinema saw many of the short films and had asked for copies and for the names and contact information of the filmmakers of some films.
And not everyone has my pedigree but they found an opportunity to be recognized and found themselves in the radar of these influential people in the industry.
I’ve always said that you can learn filmmaking from just watching films, reading about film, and working in the industry (from the bottom ranks to the higher ranks), as many people have done before. But what school does is that it puts you in direct connection to a network that can get you to where you want to go in the industry.
The advantages of a faculty that are practitioners of the craft and are members of the industry is that if you are any good, they will go out of their way to connect you to the people who will matter and who can get you a job.
And I am happy to be a part of that faculty and to be in the position to make those connections for the best, the most creative, the most hardworking in the course.
And hell, I’ll admit it, this worked towards my favor as well. I may have the family name, the pedigree, but I still have to work and to network and to prove myself if I want that opportunity. I didn’t wait for it to come. I worked. It was easier for me, yes, but I would never have gotten the next project if I didn’t work and if I wasn’t any good.
That’s how this industry works. Pedigree is never enough.