Davao Today contributor Alberto P. Egot Jr. and his team at Durian Cinema are some of the citys guerilla filmmakers. Here, he tells us what it was like to make a film for the first time.

Digital Dreams An exciting experiment: Members of the Durian Cinema team shooting a Badjao community in Davao. (Photo courtesy of Durian Cinema)

Digital Dreams A Durian Cinema crew shoots on the breakwaters of Davao. (Photo courtesy of Durian Cinema)

DAVAO CITY — “Winning the festival is not the ultimate goal of a filmmaker. It is the experience and the chance to be seen and heard.”

These are the inspiring words of Rafael “Dax” Caedo, head of the Alchemy of Vision and Light, to the finalists of this year’s guerilla filmmaking festival, called the Mindanao Film Festival.

As one of the filmmakers listening to him talk during the orientation in October, I could see the excitement of the participants, who were mostly first timers, like me. I was pre-occupied with many questions about the films at that time but I let those questions pass because our production group was still in a state of excitement. We’ve just been informed that our synopsis for “Badjao” made it to the final screening.

Who would have expected that?

Digital Dreams A Durian Cinema crew shoots on the beaches of Davao. (Photo courtesy of Durian Cinema)

Not us. Before the selection process, we were still living in a dream. I even remember telling myself that it was impossible for us to get into the Mindanao Film Festival because we were not that prepared and I only had five students as members. But I told my team to hold on and relax.

We named our group the Durian Cinema Productions, which eventually had seven members, with me as production head, writer and the director.

The first requirement was to pass the synopsis. So when Alchemy of Vision and Light picked us up for the finals, I and my film editor Neil John Luayon did not waste time to find resources for our actual filming. We couldnt possibly provide everything. Our parents in the province did not even know that we were doing this film, much more spending their hard-earned money on it. So, because we did not have that much money to spend, we improvised. Instead of buying expensive costumes for the shooting, we used old dresses. Instead of the typical lights, we used lamp shades. Instead of original editing software, we used pirated ones. We were so ingenuous we felt like geniuses!

“Filmmaking used to be a very expensive endeavor but digital technology has already changed all that,” Dax’s inspiring words guided us through the long, difficult hours of making our first film. “New techniques make it possible to shoot inexpensive but quality films.”

Digital Dreams The crew takes a break. (Photo courtesy of Durian Cinema)

The shooting period was the most challenging part. Since our story was about the life of a Badjao, we did the shooting in a Badjao community and discovered the warmth and hospitality of this widely misunderstood group of people. We ate with them and played with the children. In other words, we had fun! At one time, we had to sit down to take notes because we had to use their language in one of the dialogues. It was simply exciting!

On the technical side, we felt so lucky to have Rodulph Alama, Davao bureau manager of the Kabataan News Network, who let us make good use of the network’s equipment while I was doing a documentary story on filmmaking for the network at the same time.

Editing was such a big challenge. Our classmates thought that we were hiring a professional editor in a real editing room to edit our shots but the truth was, we did all the editing in a small topsy-turvy room with someone who was still studying how to edit films using the software Adobe premiere. With only 256 megabytes of RAM (memory), our computer eventually gave up but we did not lose hope. After three sleepless nights, we finished our first 20-minute film.

“There is nothing impossible as long as we work hard,” says Cameraman Lloyd Revilla.

I used to think that filmmaking was beyond the reach of someone who belonged to a poor family like me. But I was wrong.

In the week-long Mindanao Film Festival that opened on Dec. 4, our film was seen on the big screen of Davao, with our names crawling in the credits. It is not only the Durian Cinema team that is jubilant about the whole thing but also all the students who dared venture into guerilla filmmaking for the first time.

Finally, the lesson that I learned from this experience is that one should never give up on a dream. Never stop dreaming. (Alberto Egot Jr./davaotoday.com)

Digital Dreams Much of the shoot took place in this Badjao community in Davao. (Photo courtesy of Durian Cinema)
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