Thursday, May 20, 2004

DIGITAL DEKALOGO: A manifesto for a filmless Philippines

Sesuai dijadikan pegangan oleh sesiapa yang berminat untuk membuat filem atau dalam erti kata aku, mereka yang sudah menyampah dengan kebanyakan filem-filem yang dihasilkan oleh seorang kolumnis di akhbar sisipan Bi-Pop, seorang profesor di UiTM dan yang sama waktu dengannya.

(This was read out after the closing-night screening of the Freedom Film Festival in KL. Although written by a Filipino filmmaker for a Filipino audience, I am sure it can be applied here).

Film is dead. It is dead as long as the economy is dead, when public taste and creativity are dead, when the imagination of multi- national movie companies is dead. At millions of pesos per film production, there is not going to be a lot of happy days for the genuine filmmaker, the true artist who wants to make movies, not brainless displays of breasts and gunfire.

But technology has freed us. Digital film, with its qualities of mobility, flexibility, intimacy, and accessibility, is the apt medium for a Third World country like the Philippines. Ironically, the digital revolution has reduced the emphasis on technology and reasserted the centrality of the filmmaker, the importance of the human condition over visual junk food.

Film is dead. Please omit flowers.

Economics: A minute of celluloid film including processing costs around R1500. A minute of digital film costs around P3. Do the math. A galaxy of difference.

The only way to make a film is to shoot it. Shoot when you can. Do not delay. If you can finish everything in a day, why not? Sloth is the enemy of the Muse. The shadow filmmaker has now run out of excuses.

Your digital camera will not turn you into an instant Von Trier, Figgis or Soderbergh. Your attitude towards filmmaking should be that of an amateur: half-serious, playful, light, not heavy, thus without baggage. There are no mistakes The important thing is you

Utilise all elements within your resources. If you have a knack for music, score your own soundtrack. If you have writing skills, craft your own screenplay. If you have money, invest in gear. If you have none of the above, make sure you have good friends.

Work within a minimized budget, cast, crew, location and shooting schedule. Artificial lighting is not a necessity. The story is king. Everything else follows.

Work with what you have. Release the bricoleur within. You are not a studio. Accept your present condition. Start here.

Forget celebrities. Fuck the star system. Work only with those who are willing to work with you, and those who are dedicate to the craft. Avoid pretentious hangers-on with hidden agendas. Use a lie detector if needed.

Work with humble, patient, passionate and courageously creative people. Ignore people who are the opposite.

If you are alone, do not worry. Digital technology has reduced the crew into an option, rather than a must. Making a film by yourself is now possible. The past is dead. Those who do not change will die.

Create first, criticize later. Take care of the quantity. God will take care of the quality – that is, assuming you do believe in God. A filmmaker makes films, period.

In the name of the revolution, Khavn.

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