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How to create and sell ‘P-dramas’

By MONS ROMULO, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 01, 2022 5:00 am

In the past years, we have witnessed the growing success of Korean dramas not only in our country, but also all over the world. The pandemic kept most of us glued to our TV screens, bingeing on movies and TV series — particularly “K-dramas.”

Because of this trend, Filipino local clothing brands and telecom giants have enlisted top Korean personalities as their endorsers.

I asked multi-awarded director, writer and professor Joey Javier Reyes his thoughts on how the local entertainment industry can catch up with the growing popularity of Korean dramas. How about Pinoy dramas?

Multi-awarded director, writer and professor Joey Javier Reyes

“Unlike Korea, which has a very strong nationalistic flair and vision, plus a shared ambition for a better future not only in the movies but in everything, Filipinos just want to get out… or feel trapped.” 

Moving forward, I asked Direk Joey to share with us his advice on how our movie industry can improve and grow.

“This two-year long pandemic has changed all the equations of the way we live and has rearranged practically everything in the way we do things. The entertainment industry worldwide has been most affected, as were other forms of arts and businesses as well. But there is something both universal and unique about the way we need to confront certain issues and changes, not only to push Philippine cinema alive — but for it to survive.”

He then adds, “My mantra since the start of the pandemic has been, ‘Accept. Adapt. Advance.’ So let me put it into action.” Read on as he shares with us in detail his mantra.

Accept

Accept that we cannot go back to January 2020.  The pandemic has rearranged the world — in the way we do things, in what we prioritize and what can be done. We have to stop living in the illusion that we can go back to the way it was. We have all changed and are still changing as we celebrate Year 3 of COVID-19.

Movie-watching in cinemas has had to take a backseat during the entire pandemic.

Accept that it will take time for people to be confident enough to go back to cinemas to watch movies. And if they do so, it better be worth the money and the risk. There are too many options that became priorities when people were kept home in order to stay healthy and alive. To get them out and pay a large amount to see a movie, it better be worth the experience — and most likely they will choose joyrides like the Marvel and DC franchise.

Accept that there are so many options available to audiences now: There are cheaper alternatives compared to the price of movie tickets. These are the streaming platforms like Netflix, Viu, Vivamax, KTX, WeTV and so many other niche sources, not to mention YouTube.

Accept the fact that those who can afford movie tickets do not look at Philippine movies as worth their “hard-earned money.”  They would prefer to watch  Spider-Man  than a good Filipino film like  Big Night.  The regular Filipino moviegoer can no longer afford that P300 ticket.

Adapt

Adapt to the times. You cannot insist on what was the comfort zone of the pre-pandemic period. The competition is not only preferred foreign films but also the industry itself, which demands advancement.

Adapt the output to the inevitable changes happening. You just don’t think movie-house exhibitions alone but think of the various platforms that can be used to continue the content output. Commercial exhibition will not be the be-all and end-all but an alternative to so many options, so design the content for this mindset.

Adapt to the new business model based on the demands of the audiences. Make it cheaper and you lose your audience, which has now been exposed to a wider and far more sophisticated range of movies from various sources and platforms.

The entertainment industry has no choice but to adapt to audience behavior.

It is obvious: that sector with the purchasing power has become more demanding, more discriminating. Up the ante: at this point of the game, there is nothing to lose. We have all but lost everything so now is the time to take risks to do movies that do not only cater to popular taste but challenge both the filmmaker and the audience.

Advance

Advance to a larger market. If we want to matter, we have to target the world as our audience — and look beyond our backyard. Think like the Koreans: they wanted to conquer the world with their popular culture and they did.

Finally, advance on our own. Yes, this is an uphill battle but we cannot keep hoping for some great eureka moment to happen up there in the corridors of power. We have to stop depending on others to make a change for the better. We have to do it ourselves. Right now, it is ‘Do or die.’ For the love of the De Leons, Condes, Avellanas, Brockas, Bernals, Ronwaldo Reyeses who came before us... regardless of what some of our countrymen think of us, we will keep on fighting.