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Haven for indie films

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JUST A THOUGHT: “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get”–― W.P. Kinsella

  • • •
  • ENTER MICRO-CINEMAS: You are a budding, independent film producer. You produce your dream film, risking both life and limb, wiping out all of your savings.

    Celeste Legaspi, Dr. Lyne Balita, Rachel Alejandro, and Carl Balita at the opening of CBRC Dream Theater

    Celeste Legaspi, Dr. Lyne Balita, Rachel Alejandro, and Carl Balita at the opening of CBRC Dream Theater

    Your film—let’s say it’s a quality film, a work of art—is accepted in a mini-film festival. Due to its lackluster showing, it gets pulled out on the second day, if you are lucky. Now, what to do with your film? Where do you bring it next?

    It’s almost impossible to get a commercial booking, given the history of your initial screening.

    The scenario mentioned above faces every aspiring filmmaker/producer in the age of Netflix and the Cineplex. Film distribution becomes their biggest headache.

    Now comes educator and film producer Dr. Carl E. Balita, who recently launched “CBRC Dream Theater,” the biggest micro-cinema in the heart of Manila.

  • • •
  • DREAM THEATER: Located along Espana Boulevard, in the heart of the city’s University Belt, the theater caters to artists and students hungry for alternative cinema. Balita is transforming the review center’s main hall into a cinema at certain hours of the day.

    CBRC Dream Theater is a fully air-conditioned, 250-seater cinema, with 4k projection unit, a 5000-lumens projector, and a 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Stereo, putting it at par with modern micro-cinemas.

    The theater uses eco-friendly chairs, green chairs made from recycled plastic bottles by a company in Valenzuela.

    Admission is inexpensive, at 150 pesos only per ticket.

  • • •
  • FILMS AND PLAYS: Balita’s dream theater opened on June 22 with a screening of Loy Arcenas’ “Ang Larawan,” named best picture in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. The theater’s sound system so impressed “Ang Larawan” actress and producer Celeste Legaspi, who claims she heard the secret sound of geckos in some scenes of her film.

    Other films lined up for showing include “Maestra” (Lemuel Lorca), “Kasal” (Joselito Altarejos), “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” (Alvin Yapan), “I Love You, Thank You” ( Charliebebs Gohetia).

    Future screenings include 100 titles from Cinema One Originals.

    Dream Theater, says Balita, isn’t just a venue for film showing. It can also host theatrical productions.

    The theater is on the third floor of Carmen Building, right at the corner of Espana and G. Tolentino St.

  • • •
  • CALLING INDIE PRODUCERS: Balita is calling on all filmmakers in forming the Independent Film Producers Association of the Philippines.

    He is proposing an exploratory summit among indie producers where they could discuss matters of mutual interest, such as marketing and distribution.

    Key target goal of the association is to help market and distribute locally made indie films.

    “This is the age of millennials, indie films and micro-cinemas,’’ he said.

    The timing seems perfect. Philippine cinema is witnessing another golden age, prompting writer Ricky Lee and critic Joel David to declare recently that we are now witness to so many remarkable films, cinematic gems.

    Balita says we must seize this opportunity to promote our films and reach a wider market.

  • • •
  • TARGET FILM DISTRIBUTION: Balita, a registered nurse (UST), has produced two advocacy films, Nars and Maestra, through his own Carl Balita Productions.

    He plans to produce more films in 2018. He says he thought of using his review centers (CBRC) nationwide as venues for film showing after encountering problems in showing his films commercially.

    Creating micro cinemas in all 104 branches of CBRC nationwide is a step towards his next goal, film distribution. At any given time, these centers cater to 40,000 students, creating a huge, instant captive market.

    He is also looking at building “outdoor theaters” in far-flung areas, starting with his hometown Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, where he is currently building a beach resort.

    Outdoor theaters, reminiscent of drive-in theaters, a craze in the 1950s and 60s in the United States, will also be ideal, he says, in Surigao, Kabankalan, other remote places where there are no cinemas and where there are CEB review centers.

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