Sylvia Sanchez becomes big-time producer

At a glance

  • Sylvia mentioned that she would concentrate on working as a producer for now, while her acting career takes a backseat.

Sylvia Sanchez-Atayde

Award-winning actress Sylvia Sanchez-Atayde has just returned from the Cannes Film Festival in Paris, France, where she immersed herself as a producer.

In Cannes, Sylvia represented Nathan Studios, a top-tier Filipino production outfit committed to delivering groundbreaking content. The company is a brainchild of the Atayde family and helmed by President and CEO Ria Atayde.

With different projects spanning series, movies, and live events, the studio has consistently showcased narratives that challenge conventions and resonate deeply with audiences. 

Upon her return, Sylvia couldn't contain her excitement as she announced the acquisition of six animated films and a horror flick, all set to be showcased in the near future. She confessed to thoroughly enjoying her new act: a big-time producer.

"Medyo gamay ko na bilang producer. Gusto ko kasi mag produce pero siyempre, bago ako mag produce, gusto ko munang matutunan paano talaga ang maging producer. Kaya pumunta ako sa Cannes para matuto. Suntok sa buwan yun. Wala talaga akong alam noong pumunta ako roon first time. Pinangako ko sa sarili ko na babalik ako sa Cannes," said Sylvia during an interview in Quezon City recently.

(Slowly, I have learned to become a producer. I want to produce, but of course, I want to learn how to be a producer before I make (a movie). So I went to Cannes to learn. I didn't know anything when I went there for the first time. I promised myself that I would return to Cannes.)

Sylvia has been participating in the prestigious international film festival for three consecutive years, focusing entirely on her role as a producer. In the previous year, she attended Cannes for the movie "Topak" and the television series "Cattleya Killer." Sylvia enjoyed engaging in discussions about television and film. Accompanied by another actress, Lorna Tolentino, who also had aspirations of becoming a producer, Sylvia advised Lorna to start her own production company if she wanted to pursue producing.

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"First and second years, I went there as a producer. This year, pagbalik ko naman, actor naman ako. Pero the next day, I bought films, as a producer," she said.

Sylvia mentioned that Liza Dino, who was chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines at the time, encouraged her to attend Cannes. She emphasized that the experience of meeting foreign film and television distributors was a valuable learning opportunity. "Kung ano naman ang natutunan ko kay Liza noon, yun din ang itinuro ko kay Lorna." Incidentally, Lorna is now a partner of Nathan Studios, the production company of Sylvia and her family. (What I learned from Liza before, that's what I taught Lorna.)

On the films they bought, Sylvia said: "Art film hindi kinagat. Action film hindi rin. So we decided na pang bata naman. Next time baka drama naman. Hawak namin yung movies for seven years. We can sell it on various platforms."

Sylvia mentioned that she would focus on working as a producer for now while putting her acting career on hold.

"But if there is a good offer, I can still accept it. I seem to be more focused now as a producer," she added. (But if there's a good offer, it's still possible. I seem to be more focused now as a producer.)


New partnership

Nathan Studios has announced a strategic investment partnership with Momo Film Co. to collaborate on upcoming projects. This partnership aims to enhance the visibility of Filipino talent on the global stage and marks a significant milestone for both production companies.

The new partners are set to work on The Drought by Locarno winner Nelson Yeo, a dystopian horror project; Levitating by Wregas Bhutenaja, the acclaimed Indonesian director’s third feature; and the unannounced next feature by Singapore’s Kirsten Tan, known for her Sundance Special Jury Prize-winning film Pop Aye.

Nathan Studios was named after their home's street, Nathan, which they consider a lucky charm. The studio is dedicated to promoting Filipino talent globally, providing opportunities for both renowned and emerging artists. 

Their diverse portfolio includes live concerts such as Ice Seguerra’s anniversary concert, Becoming Ice as well as Divine Divas: The Ultimate Drag Experience. 

Notably, their first major project, Cattleya Killer, co-produced with ABS-CBN International Productions, was the very first Filipino drama-thriller series showcased at MIPCOM Cannes.

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Sylvia, a key figure in Nathan Studios, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership: “I’m excited and honored to partner with Momo Film Co. I’m looking forward to all the amazing content we will create and produce together. This partnership brings Nathan Studios one step closer to fulfilling our vision of showcasing Pinoy talent globally.”

Although Sylvia and her children Arjo and Ria act in most of the projects they produce or co-produce, the matriarch stressed that Nathan Studios is open to doing film and TV projects that don’t necessarily star her or her children, which they’ll do more of now that they’ve embarked on this partnership.

Meanwhile, Tan Si En, the managing director of Momo Film Co, echoed this sentiment: “We look forward to a long-term partnership with Nathan Studio and their great team as we produce Momo’s next slate of projects. I am thrilled to have partners who care about our region's stories and are always ready to champion great talents.”

Momo Film Co is a Singapore-based film and TV company founded in 2018 by Tan Si En and Kris Ong. Known for producing high-quality Asian dramas, it gained recognition through collaborations with acclaimed filmmakers and producing award-winning projects. 


It’s part of Beach House Pictures, a production company under Blue Ant Media, which acquired a majority stake in Momo Film Co in 2021 to bolster its scripted content. Momo Film Co also supports emerging filmmakers through initiatives like the Objectifs Short Film Incubator and the Momo Distribution Grant.

Nelson Yeo’s next project, The Drought, participated at the Qcinema project market and won the top prize in November 2023. Set during a severe drought, this horror-comedy film follows Kai as he struggles with impotence and the devastating effect his condition has on his relationship with his wife, Ling. 

Meanwhile, their widowed neighbor, Daming, is grieving after the death of his last son, while his mother devises a secret plan for another grandson. Yeo’s debut feature, Dreaming & Dying, won the Golden Leopard award in the “Cineasti del presente” section and the Swatch First Feature Award at the Locarno Film Festival in 2023.

Wregas Bhutenaja’s Levitating is slated to start production in Indonesia's third quarter of this year. The film takes place in a small suburban area where pleasure comes from being possessed by spiritual beings. It follows 20-year-old Bayu, who aspires to be the shaman for regular trance parties and later becomes a critical figure in solving the area’s crisis amid impending eviction.

In 2016, Wregas became the first Indonesian director to take home an award at the Cannes Film Festival after clinching the Discovery Prize for his short film Prenjak. Bhutenaja’s feature debut, Photocopier (2021), premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and later topped Netflix's list of most-watched non-English films for three consecutive weeks. 

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Momo Film Co previously worked with him on his second feature, Andragogy (original title: Budi Pekerti), which premiered as part of the Discovery program at the Toronto International Film Festival 2023. It also clinched the Best Actress trophy for Sha Ine Febriyanti and the Best Supporting Actress award for Prilly Latuconsina at Festival Film Indonesia.

Finally, Kirsten Tan’s Pop Aye had its world premiere in competition as the opening night film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 and later screened at over 50 film festivals. She is currently working on her next feature film, which Momo Film Co and Nathan Studios will co-produce.

This new partnership between Nathan Studio and Momo Film Co is a big step towards enhancing the visibility of Southeast Asian talent and storytelling—and their upcoming offerings are not to be missed.

To top it all, Nathan is also busy with other exciting ventures such as children’s animation; a feature film titled Moonglow co-produced with internationally acclaimed actress-director Isabel Sandoval; and a partnership with an award-winning production team for a Japanese movie.