TOURISM officials met with film executives and members of the creative industry in Los Angeles over the weekend to encourage them to shoot more productions in the Philippines.
During the meeting at the historic luxury Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco underscored the ease of doing business in the country, the Filipinos’ English proficiency, local pre- and post-production talent, as well as tax incentives, making the country an ideal site for media productions. “We are determined to push for the country and for the Filipino story to be told, and also to pitch for the Philippines as a viable destination to tell stories from around the world,” she told participants in the meeting.
Among them were representatives of streaming companies, multimedia production companies, and creative studios such as HBO Max, Disney Branded Productions, Relativity Media, A+E Studios, Cinema Sala, Inspire Studios, Electric Entertainment, P&L Media, along with public relations and marketing agencies like Tremendous Communications, and media consultants advancing Filipino-American creatives.
For her part, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operating Officer (COO) Maria Margarita M. Nograles also expressed the agency’s full support to the filmmakers and producers: “We have to fight to keep our stories alive. As the Secretary mentioned, we have 7,641 islands in the Philippines. Each one has a community, and a unique story to tell. I leave that up to you to tell that story. We would love to take you into the Philippines [and] take you around our communities. Anytime you are ready we are ready.” The TPB is the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Rich People Problems
To their credit, local partners of foreign film and TV crews managed to help push forward productions even during the pandemic. Among them was the critically acclaimed Nocebo, which was partially shot in Cebu and starred Cebuana actress Chai Fonacier, along with Discovery Channel’s reality series Naked and Afraid, which filmed in Palawan amid tight bubble conditions.
Even prior to the pandemic, the DOT has assisted the Film Development Center of the Philippines (FDCP) in identifying ideal locations for international productions, as well as coordinates with local government units for required permits. (See, “Foreign film crews love shooting in the PHL—DOT,” in the BusinessMirror, June 7, 2021.)
Meanwhile, award-wining film producer Lawrence Bender (Kill Bill) and popular author Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians) are reportedly finalizing details to shoot in the Philippines, after scouting for possible locations in Amanpulo and El Nido last year. The film will likely be based on the third installment (Rich People Problems) of Kwan’s wildly popular series of novels, where many scenes were located on the island.
During a global tourism summit in the Philippines in April last year, Bender underscored the need for destinations like the Philippines to offer “either a tax rebate and film incentive” to encourage filmmakers to come here.
“Obviously, we have 150, 250 people we are employing; they pay taxes, they buy food, they employ other people, they pay taxes. So it’s a net positive for the economy, and the government ultimately, who pays out these incentives ends up getting the money back.” (See ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ author ‘wants to shoot in Palawan,’” in the BusinessMirror, April 28, 2022.)
The FDCP usually handles negotiations with foreign film and TV producers regarding the tax breaks that may be extended to them. Under one program, for example, the agency offers a 20-percent cash rebate on foreign producers’ local expenses as long as they work with a Filipino line producer, post-production company, or an animation studio.
Among 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. History Channel has also filmed two seasons of Lost Gold of WW2 in the country.
Image credits: DOT