Earlier today, we attended a seminar on pitching for full length films hosted by Lilas Binisaya. The pitching seminar ” How to Pitch for a Full Length Film Grant” was hosted by none other than Mr. Emmanuel de la Cruz, an award-winning director and scriptwriter known for producing some of the most popular mainstream films in the Philippines.
All throughout the seminar, I observed how enthusiastic Mr. De la Cruz was in discussing the films he has watched, is watching, intent on watching, and the films he’s producing. In fact, his frequent catchphrase is “I’m excited” and this excitement is infectious.
He’s a cinephile, but he’s not just any cinephile. He’s a cinephile who’s truly passionate about films and their elements. He’s a cinephile who’ll watch at least 7 films in a week and who’ll perform lines off a musical he loves (he actually sang lines off The Sound of Music during his discussion). He’s the cinephile who’d watch classics over and over again and inspect their elements.
This is what makes him really good at what he does. His excitement is contagious, hence it’s easy for him to convince others to buy his pitches. He also sees the potentials in each pitch given to him. I think, personally, this is what makes him a great filmmaker. I believe filmmakers have to continue to be fuelled by that passion, that excitement, or else the lack of it comes out of every work.
Here are some of his statements I transcribed during the seminar.
“I watched everything I was allowed to watch”
“I really look for the films that are nourishing to me…because they speak a particular voice. They are educational”
“Studios need a creative think tank. They get the best and turn them into a team of zombies.”
“Actually, we’ve seen themes like these before, but it’s a matter of how these are pitched.”
“We are all great storytellers. We have great stories, but how do we harness them? How do you ignite your passion to create something?
The Filipino society is so driven by story. But it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do something to make them feel they could relate.”
“The film is a metaphor.”
“If the movie is not something you could connect with, then it means nothing. The goal is to capture the audience and get them to connect with them.”
He also explained that the pitch only involves two primary parts: the Narrative Line and the Thematic Line.
What is the plot? What is the story narrative? How is it different from the other stories? Be specific!!
What is the story REALLY about.
The thematic line changes depending on who wrote it. If Shakespeare wrote it, it might be a tragedy. You have to make it real to the audience.
“The chains you have on yourself is stronger than whatever chain any torturer could put on you. The devil is stronger on the inside.”
“An artist will always be a beginner. A great artist is always an amateur at everything and anything s/he does.”
“If you have a good pitch, you have weapon.”
“Go back to your fairy tales”
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We were also very fortunate to have conversed with Mr. Al Evangelio – one of the pioneers in Cebuano filmmaking. He’s a producer, screenwriter, playwright, and director and he’s also known for the critically-acclaimed Calamba Joe (a play about the Philippines’ national hero Jose Rizal).
He attended the seminar and expressed how delighted he was to see so many young and interested students. He expressed his dismay about the lack of financial support for local filmmakers because he knows and understands just how difficult it is to make good film.
We were basically fangirling over him. Jennie and I asked him if he’s okay with us getting a photo with him, then he asked if we also participated in the film competition.
We explained that we did and when we told him that we made “Erlinda”, he remarked that he “enjoyed” our film and that he liked it as much as he liked the award-winning Cebuano film “Saranghae, My Tutor”.
He told us that he appreciated how we tried to put depth in our film. He then asked us what camera we used since we told him there were only 4 of us in the team. He actually looked quite amused when we told him that we only used a cellphone camera for the filming of “Erlinda”. Indeed, resources are scarce and we told him that we’re really just amateurs (to which he replied with “that’s how we all start”).
We felt elated as soon as we had the photo.
When he told us he appreciated our film, that is truly more than enough for us. We explained that our only goal is to have our film screened in the cinema and have people see it. So, for him to say that is truly a big deal for us.
Imagine, a film veteran actually thought nicely of our film! I mean, we’re happy to have had it screened, but to actually hear it from someone you admire as an artist…wow. No words can express our feelings. We felt like crazy fangirls who received a wink from their pop idol!!
Gaaaaaa!!! All our feels! Hahaha
No words can express how happy we were. I mean, I’m easily pleased. I get happy over the tiniest things. But this, this is a big deal. This is a really cool message from one of the artists we look up to! He’s amazing!
Needless to say, we were all quite delighted and inspired.