Dantes’ Inferno

Published July 8, 2020, 11:07 PM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Dingdong Dantes, GMA’s leading leading man, leads a newly formed group of actors and directors – AKTOR – who see the world closing in on the TV, movie and entertainment industry.

It’s not just the shutdown of the largest network that has displaced producers, directors, actors, voice actors and coaches, writers, cinematographers, bit players and stuntmen, makeup artists, fashion and set designers, propsmen, caterers, etc. It’s also the impossibly strict guidelines laid down by the Film Development Council of the Philippines for production shoots not only for television and cinema but also live events, stage shows, plays, improvisational theater, stand-up comedy, advertising content, audiovisual ads, animation.

Dingdong heads a powerful cast of actors and directors from both sides of the aisle, including Agot Isidro, Iza Calzado, Cherry Pie Picache, Richard Gutierrez, Joel Lamangan, Jasmine Curtis Smith, Janine Gutierrez, Angelica Panganiban, Michael de Mesa. What binds them? In solidarity under one starry sky, they “strongly oppose any law or order that curtails our freedom to create,” pointing out that FDCP’s powers are restricted to cinema evaluation, i.e., implementing a film rating system.

FDCP guidelines run to several pages, among them submission of scripts one week ahead; masks, gloves, shoe covers, PPEs on the set; disinfecting props before and after every use (guns must be cleaned and stored in sealed plastic bags); senior citizens are “discouraged” from being cast. Also required, a “health and safety commitment declaration” prior to the shoot. For out-of-town work, cast and crew are by necessity lodged – quarantined — under one roof, such as a hotel, which means additional costs.

It is estimated that if every producer followed every set of protocols to the letter, he should expect to increase shooting time five-fold and inflate the budget by 30 to 40 percent.

AKTOR’s call to “reject any move to meddle in the industry’s processes . . . and demand the open flow of any exchange of information and the creative arts” is joined by the Inter-Guild Alliance, Film Workers Unite, and Directors Guild, which “opposes any form of additional agency intrusion.”

As Netflix offers a temptingly unlimited range of Korean dramas for the locked-down audience to savor, where are our lights and cameras pointing? Let’s hope, not The End.