Foreign film crews love shooting in the PHL–DOT

International film and TV producers have been beating a path to the country’s doors despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with many of its tourist destinations and provinces providing interesting backdrops to their scripts and actors.
El Nido, Palawan
El Nido, Palawan

INTERNATIONAL film and TV producers have been beating a path to the country’s doors despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with many of its tourist destinations and provinces providing interesting backdrops to their scripts and actors.

In an interview, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat revealed a production crew “from the United States” just came to the Philippines to shoot a reality TV show.  “They quarantined for seven days first in Manila—when the quarantine was only seven days—then chartered a plane to go directly to El Nido, where they quarantined again for another seven days. But for these foreigners to be quarantined in the Philippines, wow, we have such a beautiful country. They’re so happy.”

She said when she was in El Nido she tried to peek into the production, “but it was prohibited. They’re very strict. They shoot in a bubble.”

She noted, “It’s interesting that so many film outfits are dying to come to the Philippines. We’ve already given a number of permissions [for them to shoot].” Among the projects that were recently completed were: Holy Craft, a documentary directed by Joseph Mangat and produced by Volos Film of Taiwan, Cinetracts of the US, and the local VY/AC Productions; Discovery Channel’s  reality TV series Garden of Eden (Battle Beat Productions LLC/US, Fixer Ink Philippines); the feature film When the Waves are Gone directed by Lav Diaz (Epic Media Productions/PHL, Film Boutique/France, Snowglobe/Denmark); and reality series Survivor Israel (About Hameiri/Israel, Philippine Film Studios Inc.).

Now showing

Separately, Tourism Assistant Secretary for Branding and Marketing Communications Howard Lance Uyking told the BusinessMirror the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) handles the negotiations with the foreign film/TV productions and the incentives that are extended to them. One program, for instance, extends a 20-percent cash rebate on foreign film producers’ local expenses, as long as they work with a Filipino line producer, post-production company, or an animation studio.

FDCP also underscores the cost-efficiency of filming in the country using high-quality equipment and English-speaking crew and talents, the safety of filmmaking with the implementation of international health and safety protocols, a one-stop shop for securing permits, visas, and tax-free importation of filming equipment.

The DOT assists by endorsing the film/TV production for approval by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said Uyking. “What DOT does is market the country as a film destination, coordinate with the local government units for permits, and also recommend what sites they can film in on the bases of their specifications,” he added.

Coming soon

He said they are “currently assisting two projects whose foreign crew members are in the middle of completing their 14-day quarantine, so they’ll be filming quite soon.” These are the feature film Nocebo directed by Lorcan Finnegan of Epic Media/PHL, Lovely Productions (Ireland), Wild Swim (UK); and Gensan Punch directed by Brillante Mendoza, and produced by Center Stage Productions (PHL) and Gentle Underground Monkeys Co. Ltd. (Japan).

Others that will start filming “in the coming months,” he added, are History Channel’s Lost Gold of WW2 (Ample Entertainment/US, Mandala Productions/PHL); Act of God directed by Garrett Batty (Typhoon Trouble LLC/US, DM Creative Corp./PHL); Some Nights I Feel Like Walking directed by Petersen Vargas (Daluyong Studios and TEN17P/PHL, Giraffe Pictures/Singapore), Dolce Vita Films/France); Survivor France; Electric Child directed by Simon Jaquemet (8Horses GmbH/Switzerland, Epic Media/PHL).

Among the Hollywood films that have been shot in the Philippines include Fritz Lang’s American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950), Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), Peter Weir’s The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy (2012), to name a few. The Survivor series’ various European iterations also frequently shoot in the Caramoan Islands.

Image courtesy of Alona Siurmenko | Dreamstime.com
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