Filmmakers in the Philippines will no longer have to pay back production grants received from Film Philippines, the organization also known as Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), it was revealed at Busan’s Asian Contents & Film Market on Saturday.
“The Film Philippines incentives and grants are the same, and the benefits that you can get and the percentages of cash rebate that you can get, they’re still the same. The only difference is it’s now non-recoupable funds, meaning that the beneficiary does not need to return any of the funds that they receive,” David Fabros, unit manager, special projects and external affairs at the FDCP told Variety. “It used to be otherwise. It used to be that FDCP required an equity share to be returned. But now that has been revised and removed. So now all the grants of Film Philippines incentives are non-recoupable.”
The Philippines has multiple incentives including the Film Location Incentive Program, the International Co-Production Fund and the ASEAN Co-Production Fund.
The new chair and CEO of FDCP, Tirso S. Cruz III, who took over from Liza Dino, said that the FDCP received a lot of feedback from producers about the additional load a recoupable grant adds to a film’s budget.
“We’re supposed to be giving grants and funds to those people whose projects we find are worth it. So why burden them with that if we could give the grant as a grant,” Cruz told Variety. “When you say grant you don’t expect anything in return. And we should at least trust these people when they come in with their projects. And we believe in them. So we decided, let’s take out the word ‘recoupable’ and just leave it as a grant.”
“We were thinking that we’re supposed to be helping, so let’s help properly,” added Cruz. “And that was as simple as that. Now, everybody’s going to be more relaxed and more interested in coming up with their projects and coming to us because they know that if you can come up with a good project, surely we will give you a grant.”
Cruz also revealed a new, education and training focused direction for the FDCP. “The new direction of the new administration is film development, education, and film archiving. The thrust of the FDCP now truly, is to support, to develop and to mentor Filipino filmmakers,” Cruz said.
On the education front, the FDCP will offer formal film education to film industry workers, including actors, who had hitherto learned on the job,” said Cruz, who is also a superstar actor in the Philippines industry. Support will also be on hand for students from underprivileged backgrounds who show promise but don’t have funding for their thesis films.
“From what we’ve been seeing the new blood are more daring and they’re more innovative. And, I’ve seen such fire in their eyes, especially the young ones,” Cruz said. Training will also be provided in screenwriting, script development, direction and cinematography.
“That is mostly what we’re gearing towards the next couple of years of the industry. Of course, we will still have the former programs that have been working. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, just use it. But then again, we’re adding some redirections and realignment and furthermore enhance the industry and the operations of the FDCP itself,” Cruz added.