Film industry experts speak on film education

 How does film education shape Philippine cinema?

DFilm Program Chairperson Jose Javier Reyes
This is the question asked by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Digital Filmmaking (DFilm) Program Chairperson Jose Javier Reyes, during an open forum of award-winning film practitioners, industry experts, and educators, to include Liza Diño, Patrick Campos, Kristoffer “Tops” Brugada, Jag Garcia, and David Corpuz at the College’s School of Design and Arts (SDA) Campus. 

The dialogue was moderated by film education advocate Edward Cabagnot, who worked for over three decades at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and was one of the founding members of the respected Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

Cabagnot claimed that today’s growing number of film programs allowed aspiring filmmakers to express themselves. In 2005, only those working with big producers could witness their concepts come to life. 

“However, if filmmakers are on the right path, how come we’re not making films that are teaching us ways to change the Filipinos for the right?” he asked.  

Campos, University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI) Chairperson and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Cinema Committee Member, stressed that the curriculum must be timely, relevant, and meaningful. He shared that UPFI prepared two tracks for their students: one for film scholars and one for future filmmakers. 

“Film literacy is part of the education so filmmakers will understand the different disciplines,” he stated. 

Campos added that UPFI will continue to recognize film literacy programs so Filipinos will have better critical view of the social value of the media.

Meanwhile Brugada, documentary filmmaker and De La Salle University professional lecturer, added that educational institutions must adjust based on the demands on film, one of which is its role to open the minds of the audience. 

“I always tell my students that if they want to say something, they should create a film,” he said asserting that the schools will be left out if they do not adapt to these changes. 

The speakers also commended how universities and colleges are hiring professionals together with theorists to provide appropriate guidance to the students. 

“You need practitioners because they have the pragmatics of filmmaking. It is really delicate to find that balance in teaching the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of doing films,” Cabagnot explained. 

Garcia, Assistant Professor and Founding Chairperson of Benilde’s DFilm Program, Educational Technology Coach at Center for Instruction, Research, and Curriculum (CIRC) EdTech office, and NCCA Cinema Committee Member, clarified that NCCA is currently gearing up with projects to establish film culture in the provinces. 

“We are now putting in real effort through literacy and enrichment programs because it has a big impact. There are student films now as prominent as non-student films and young filmmakers who started as student-filmmakers,” he noted.  

The panel discussed how film education extends to the emerging media, which makes films accessible to a wider audience. Corpuz, director and Mapua University Digital Cinema Program Cluster Head, believes that Hollywood has always been the people’s initial exposure when it comes to movies, but hopes that the new media will change it for the better. 

“There are already various ways to watch different kinds of films. That’s why I always tell my students that they no longer have any excuses now,” he noted. 

While there are student-filmmakers who can still produce quality outputs given the limited equipment, the country’s lack in archiving necessary educational materials is still a different issue. “Philippines is one of the countries who first created films way back in the 1930s, yet we don’t have much to show to this generation and it’s a big loss,” Cabagnot reiterated. 

Dino, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairperson and CEO, clarified that FDCP is attempting to understand the gaps – where is Philippine cinema now, what are the goals moving forward, and why is filmmaking not profitable for others. “Philippine cinema is unique because we have our own stories from our own localities, which we transform into a beautiful piece,” she beamed. “That’s what FDCP wants to champion – to help filmmakers find their voice and make it universally available and relatable to a bigger audience,” she added.  

Dino also asserted that as much as film scholars and educators find the need to cater a different kind of film to the audience, it is not proper to antagonize other genres. 

“There has to be an understanding that Philippine cinema is an industry and a community and that there will always be films catering to the lowest common denominator,” she stated. “We just have to continue to make everything available to the audience because they will be the ones to decide what they want to watch.”

Topics: Jose Javier Reyes , DFilm Program , Philippine Cinema , Liza Diño , Patrick Campos , Kristoffer “Tops” Brugada , Jag Garcia , David Corpuz
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