The Rights Stuff


Film Industry Conference & Workshop Series @ Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino – Part 2

By The Rights Stuff — 20.09.2019

The Road To International Film Co-Productions (Part 2)

Speakers on the panel:
Bianca Balbuena | Producer, Motel Acacia 
Bradley Liew | Director, Motel Acacia 

Jessel Monteverde | Director, Producer


In the Philippines, directors have a lonely job because they produce and write their own films. 

Bianca emphasizes, “filmmakers should never write alone!”. 

They pitch the project to financers, they apply to public grants. Even during the post-production stage, the director’s job is technically done, however in the Philippines they market, look out for distribution opportunities and contact cinemas, as well as apply to film festivals. She iterates that all those are the job of a producer and not a director. 

A producer’s role is crucial in aiding the director and that producers, should also choose the director they want to work with. Bianca likens the partnership to being in a marriage or a relationship, they must work together harmoniously. 

If filmmakers have a co-producer, it would garner them valuable feedback from a very high caliber producer who will also have inputs on the script. Co-productions enable filmmakers to participate or become part of a bigger production, which in turn allows for higher creativity and quality output.

Jessel Monteverde who moderated the panel, posed some questions to the duo about IP Rights, approaching an international co-producer and challenges encountered with a co-producer.  

   Photo Credit: Ties That Bind

JM: What would be an example of a fair deal with regard to IP rights?

If filmmakers do not have a choice and they really need and want their film to be funded, then they can give their IP rights. But as much as possible, filmmakers should always give the economic rights or the right to exploit the film. 
In Europe, IP rights belong to the auteur. Then the auteur gives the producer a contract that says “you have the right to exploit my film” which allows the producer to apply to grants without the permission of the filmmaker and the producer can sell the film to investors. 
There is a difference between IP rights and economic rights. In Singapore, the creators had IP rights for the past 5 years. Before that, it was the commissioner, financer, and broadcaster who won the IP rights. 

In the last few years, there was a shift that started. Filmmakers need financial incentives to ensure they produce the best output. Not all investors are concerned with high-quality output.
In Singapore, investors used to protect the market. But now, their primary concern is to see better films. 

JIM: How does one approach an international co-producer?

Applying to project markets. We launched our project in the genre market, we knew it was the right avenue for the kind of material that we had. Even though having a director with a lot of international recognition was helpful, we weren’t attractive to international investors, they still saw us as a risk, but having a local studio to back us up was really helpful because investors now saw the content was worth it. It is important to have all the key factors such as a good director and a local studio to back you up.

What helped us in this endeavor was that for the first time ever we had an ACTUAL investor, a co-financier, sitting with us at the director’s side of the table. This was the time when Star Cinema was beside the director pitching to foreign investors, and that definitely helped a lot. It made investors more confident in investing in our film, helped elevate the value of the project and made it a safer investment for financers.

JIM: What are some of the challenges you encountered with your co-producer?

Communication and coordination due to the difference in time zones and locations. It’s quite hard to have meetings over Skype. And it was hard to design a model that would please each and every one of our private investors.

Key Facts:
Director/Writer: Bradley Liew
Producer: Bianca Balbuena
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Location: Philippines

Epic Media specializes in co-productions, both local and international.

Original Content by Alexandria Jamilla Bianca C. Kaluag