By Dr. Maria Cecilia M. Genove
(Note: Delivered at the opening of the 4th 61 Short Film Festival sponsored by the College of Mass Communication, Cultural Affairs Committee, and Societe des Cinephiles.)
Making a film is like taking a long trip. The film voyager or the filmmaker can load up with a full tank and bring a credit card along to ensure completion of the voyage in as short a time as possible. The voyager can also load up with a few liters of gasoline and drive until he runs out of gasoline. He can choose to scrounge around for subsequent liters of gasoline to get to his destination without worrying about how long it takes to complete the voyage.
Completing the film, which is an artwork in itself, is the voyage all artists set out to do, whether one is a painter, a writer, or a filmmaker. The length of the trip, timewise, is a matter of choice depending on the combination of ingredients – inspiration, resources, available gadgets and working materials, personal circumstances like family or emotional disturbances – or, as in the case of student filmmakers whose works of art we viewed and deliberated upon as members of the jury, complying with many other requirements in their numerous subjects in the university.
For the 12 students who have chosen to enroll in Communication 61 (Film Appreciation) being offered by the College of Mass Communication of Silliman University, time is certainly not a luxury. After all, the more time they would have spent to finish the film, the more expensive it might become because of the attendant additional resources entailed. More than anything else, since this is supposed to be the final requirement for these young filmmakers, unnecessarily delaying their respective films would mean a failing grade from their course professor. Either way, they have no recourse but to finish their film, come hell or high water.
Offhand, it is highly admonished that the more efficient path of time-saving should be the road that should be taken. This is also the usual mode of commercial productions, whether one is doing a Hollywood Cecil B. de Mille film or a Third World box-office hit. It is likewise dictated by the laws of the investment world, where films are mainly a consumer product to be served like McDonald’s hamburgers.
I remembered tuning in to a television interview of award-winning Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik who said that it takes him usually two, three, or even four years to complete a film. Perhaps because film is the most expensive, most technologically dependent art form, there is a need to some degree of discipline. I don’t think filmmakers can say to themselves – why rush this particular scenario? If I do not finish this film in this life . . . well, it’s only a film, anyway.
Many professionals tell the beginning filmmaker: “You should not take too long to finish a film, because too many changes happen within the individual filmmaker.” This rings true to our young filmmakers that whether they like it or not, finished or unfinished, the films have to be shown at a given time for everyone’s appreciation.
It is my hope then that through these films, amateur as they are, but certainly not amateurish, a glimmer of hope may be discerned for the local film industry. That these artistic endeavors were started four years ago in the College of Mass Communication by multi-awarded Palanca recipient Asst. Prof. Ian Rosales Casocot is something that we consider a feather to our cap.
Film Appreciation as an elective in the College of Mass Communication has, indeed, come a long way. When we took Film Appreciation as an elective way back as a student, we were under the tutelage of the brilliant stage director-theater actor Outstanding Sillimanian Awardee, Amiel Leonardia. At that time, we watched films in the old, rundown Ever Theater along then Alfonso Trece Street (now Perdices Street) with its dilapidated chairs then and the entire theater reeking with a smell that I could no longer imagine today. But, as students, or at least for me at that time, aside from the film that we had to diligently watch and listen to because there were no DVDs then, unless we watch the film all over again and spend another amount of money – what we were more concerned about were the relationships forged inside the theater with our male classmates who were with us. Until today, the Barbra Streisand-Robert Redford movie, “The Way We Were,” has remained a big favorite because of the memories it brings to my mind.
Thus, as the cliché goes, people sat back, relaxed, and truly enjoyed the films painstakingly done by the young filmmakers, sleepless nights and frayed nerves included.
Our sincere appreciation is accorded to those who believe in the power of films as a veritable medium for social change. Truly, the time has finally come for these filmmakers to take us on their journey. Be with us then as we resolve to make more film shorts in the years to come, thereby giving credence to our young talents, the future filmmakers and movers in the country.