Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Sayles pitch for RP

Filmmaker feels it’s vital to shoot in Bohol
By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines—It was Bohol or bust, as far as US independent filmmaker John Sayles was concerned.

Sayles, who just finished his 33-day shoot of the historical drama “Baryo” in the Visayan province, told Inquirer it was important for him to shoot his film in the Philippines.

After all, it was about the Philippine-American war at the turn of the 20th century.

He said he couldn’t see how Queensland, Australia or Shanghai, China could’ve doubled for the Philippines, as was the case in the World War II film “The Great Raid.”

The fiercely independent Sayles insisted on shooting in the actual country that was the setting of his screenplay inspired by his yet-to-be-published nonfiction book “A Moment in the Sun.”

“I felt I could only make this film here,” he said. “Plus, the Philippines has a real movie industry. Our cast and crew are film professionals who’ve experienced working in every type of movie.”

Government assistance

The Film Development Council of the Philippines was also helpful, he related. “The government facilitated getting people and things in and out of Bohol … and also helped in some tax structures.”

Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. was also accommodating.

“There’s a municipal ordinance that seeks to promote film production and arts and culture in Maribojoc (the film’s main location),” Evasco said.

Safe to shoot

Sayles asserted that it’s safe to shoot in the Philippines, contrary to the common impression in Hollywood.

“It’s just crazy. Insurance companies get paranoid and generalize,” he said. “They don’t realize that the Philippines is composed of thousands of islands.”

When something happens in Mindanao, it doesn’t necessarily affect Bohol, he explained.

Not that Sayles would turn his back on a challenge.

He shot in Mexico (“Men with Guns”) at a time when the military was battling with rebels. “There was a small revolution 15 miles away from us,” he quipped. “But I’m very careful about things like that.”

Rediscovering RP

After “Baryo,” he hopes more foreign productions would consider the Philippines as location.

“I think people will start rediscovering the Philippines,” he said. “A lot of American movies were shot here in the 1970s. My friend (and Oscar winner) Jonathan Demme shot here. So did Oliver Stone.”

According to producer and partner Maggie Renzi, Sayles has decided to stay in Bohol to edit “Baryo.”

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