On cinema and political campaigns

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The author (seated, left) with Joseph Marco (standing), Martin and Shaina Magdayao

Creating a film is a business that requires a lot of time, patience and cooperation between many people, not only for industry players, but also for other groups. In many ways, the upcoming elections and the campaign period that accompanies them are similar to the process of making a movie.

In the beginning, a director or screenwriter comes up with a concept. It expands on the script, the various acts of the film, and why it needs to be done. He needs to clarify his voice as an artist. Then you will plan to film everything in the finished script with your team.

When you think about it, the script is like a politician’s promises. You promise to work hard and use different methods in order to deliver on the promises of the script, and the result should be felt by people.

Some filmmakers or candidates are as good at communicating as they are at promoting themselves. Some are more efficient as workers, while others are surrounded by high caliber teams. Similar to politicians during the election campaign, they promise so much using many fascinating words.

At Found Film School, we call this ‘hearsay’ – there’s no solid evidence the contestant can do this, but we believe it because it’s delivered convincingly, or because our friends and families insist on his credibility.

Whether factual or exaggerated, we see news on social media about him that assures us that he is well worthy of patronage.

Of course, there will be staunch critics, defenders and sycophants on both sides.

Involved persons

Politicians and elected officials have their cabinets and staff, while a director works with cinematographers, production designers, creative consultants, scorers and actors. You also have investors, line producers, marketers and utility men to help you realize your vision. Depending on the project, you may also work alongside public and private offices. The combined efforts of these people are required to make a film.

Although each department contributes to the film, a director may favor one over the other, whether by real importance or personal inclination, in the same way that an elected official will devote more of his budget to a favorite project, such as education or public works.

In film, for example, much of the tight production budget goes to actors. They are very important, yes, but we are not minimizing the efforts of, for example, members of the production design team who lose a lot of sleep preparing for filming.

Background

When we consider the merits of a filmmaker or a leader, we check his track record. We look at his filmography, his efficiency and his consistency. Luck is beautiful, of course, but it should not be counted on. Success doesn’t have to be 100% because it’s hard to achieve perfection, but there has to be proof of decent performance and results.

Sometimes, like voters, film audiences are blindsided by familiar appearances and personalities. They see the names of famous actors in the credits or in the advertisements, and they automatically think that the film is beautiful, that it has not been seen.

For others, if an actress can cry with the flick of a finger, especially in happily ever after stories, they think that’s the mark of excellence and cinematic beauty. Or a movie can leave an indelible mark on history, but some people still can’t appreciate it because it’s not promoted well. It may also seem too quiet and too intellectual for their liking, or there aren’t enough romance or fight scenes.

Not everything promised or written will happen on set or be reflected in the final product. If the leader or director isn’t as dedicated, or doesn’t share the same vision with the rest of the team, it will show.

Brilliant Ma Mendoza (left) and Coco Martin

Brilliant Ma Mendoza (left) and Coco Martin

There could be disruptions in location, weather or logistics. A team member may fall ill, or the scheduled delivery is not met, or equipment is broken, or the agencies may not cooperate or adhere to what is agreed in the contract.

Exit

When we lead, we know that the best scripts, plans, effort, and talent can only accomplish so much, and factors are to be expected to alter the outcome.

During post-production, it is sometimes necessary to change the synopsis because several changes have taken place since then and there are many other stakeholders involved. A minor diversion in one scene can affect the whole story. The product has evolved, so it is no longer what was originally promised.

Ultimately, as a leader or manager, you are the captain of the ship who is responsible for the outcome, good or bad. You will get the credit or most of the review. If the camera work was bad, why did you allow it? If the fitment is confusing or the accessories don’t match the period, why did you allow it? If the dialogue is repetitive, why haven’t you deleted what is unnecessary?

Time will prove what we really are. The sad reality is that it’s only at the end of the show that we realize – even though many of us don’t acknowledge it or refuse to do so – that we’ve failed in our expectations. Often it takes time for us to see the outcome or judge it fairly. So, by the time the realization hits you, it would have been too late to stop or undo what is being done.

In cinema as in politics, it is the quality of the work that decides the result, not just the words or the concept. Let’s try to avoid getting carried away by hearsay, or being swayed by what is true. You have to be vigilant, take the time to study.

Although we are all wrong, it is good to maintain integrity. It is better to try to uplift ourselves and our community than to become too attached to politicians and politics.

We must learn from our mistakes because, until we recognize our wrongs, history will repeat itself – and that will render all our past experiences, sacrifices and knowledge useless. We still have today and tomorrow [to do what’s right]. Let’s not waste it. INQ

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