What follows: The beginning of my producer’s journey
The Manila Times
WHEk I ended my term last year at the Film Development Council of the Philippines, I was humbled to have several options on what to do next. I might have put my life on hold for six years so I could give myself completely as that Agency’s Chairperson but to be in the best position to navigate the ins and outs of government is something I am forever grateful for. I have no regrets because when I left, I took with me an intimate, precious, and deeper understanding and appreciation of an industry that I have loved for as long as I can remember. For someone who was hyper focused on one thing for years, choosing what was next and completely different felt a little daunting. I knew that whatever I chose next, I wanted to continue the mission to support the industry, even in a different capacity. For a time, I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to be able to continue what I started in FDCP, but thankfully, the doors that opened allayed my anxieties. As I reflected and explored options and with partners reaching out, I realized that I could still do something to help realize the vision of the Philippine film industry as a content producing country of globally viable films and TV series in Southeast Asia. This is why with Fire and Ice Media and Productions, a company that I built with my ever-supportive husband Ice, I found my first big project with “Sellblock,” an international co-produced TV series produced by Pedring Lopez’ BlackOps Studios. I was personally inspired by this multi-million dollar project since its announcement in Hong Kong FilmArt last year. FDCP back then supported this project as it was exactly what the agency envisioned — a world-class content produced and spearheaded by the Philippines in partnership with international co-producers. After months of following the preproduction of this project, I’m proud for us to finally come on board as a partner to raise the financing of the project. It feels like the industry is coming together to support Sellblock, with Jim Baltazar’s CMB Films, one of the largest production equipment providers in Southeast Asia and kathan Studios (“Cattleya Killer” “Trigger”) becoming co-production partners for the project. On the international side, Sellblock has the backing of Scott Rosenfelt (“Home Alone,” “Teen Wolf”), one of Hollywood’s most successful independent producers and has recently been acquired by USA’s Blue Fox Entertainment for show’s sales and distribution representative. The series has already confirmed Jericho Rosales, Empoy Marquez, Ronnie Lazaro, Mon Confiado, Sylvia Sanchez, and Ria Atayde for the cast and in talks with BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominee Dolly De Leon, fresh off from her breakout success in “Triangle of Sadness.” Sellblock’ is planned for a three-season run and chronicles one of Asia’s biggest drug empires, operating from inside the Philippines’ largest maximumsecurity prison. With Pedring Lopez helming as the director, the story is in good hands. I have witnessed Pedring make his mark over the years both as a genre director and a dedicated producer and to be part of Sellblock’s history-making journey has filled me with a newfound excitement with my new role. The pandemic has forever changed the landscape of the world’s film industry and with the streaming giants and new forms of content becoming king on all fronts, there is much to explore and adapt to, especially for Filipino producers. With this new role that starts with Sellblock, I am embarking on a mission to get the Filipino film industry on board so that we all recognize that the industry, whether they like it or not, is a global market and that we need to reach out and make globally viable products. We need to get out of our silo mindset if we want to survive and thrive like what South Korea has cultured in the past decades. I was lucky and fortunate to have been able to receive so much support in this new role and I don’t intend on wasting it. To Filipino producers out there, let’s partner up and do this. I am building my team to be able to support more projects and talents sooner than later, and while this isn’t going to be easy, I am looking forward to the challenge. This is the time to make calculated risks and create opportunities out of challenges and it’s the Philippines’ time to be its own trailblazer and pioneer in the world.