After the final edit of the Kenyan documentary* (custom made one-man-show for Tamar’s Voice in Indiana) was shipped and premiered in late September, I could turn my attention to the next big fish to fry.

After the showing of an Australian short film in a festival in LA, I was contacted by a director in search of a willing and schedule-free crew for a low-budget feature set in the Philippines. I said yes. Then asked what it was about. Something about slums, orphans, action, car chase. Yep. I’m in.

Upon landing I regretted spending the whole flight watching back to back movies interrupted by push ups in the back of the plane. Jet lag is an unfortunate bunk mate. But hitting the ground running is a better remedy.

With shooting only a few weeks away the need to meet, approve and hire local crew is upon us. What I hadn’t expected was the amazing talent and experience of crews here in Manila. I obviously didn’t know much about the Philippines before coming but there is an overrepresented amount of film production happening. And it’s not all foreign film; Filipinos are creating feature length, dramatic and comedic content on a regular basis from microscopic budgets and schedules that would make an American indie crew violently choke to death.

Already, as I’ve hired crew members and asked about their particular style of running a set, I’ve learned just how far some are willing to go to see cinema happen in their own language. This story starts with math:

Imagine you’ve spent $5000 worth of gear for a day’s shoot. Most films would attempt to get the most for their dollar by working their crew a solid 17 hours in a day. Crews here in Manila came up with a better solution: Go big or go home. A crew will work for 24 straight hours to get the most usage out of their gear rental. Then the next day, after turning in equipment, they’ll rest and location scout. Day 3, back at it again for a solid revolution around the sun, followed by a day of rest and location scouting and so on. For how long? 12-18 days is a typical time to shoot a FEATURE FILM here. It’s actually hard for me to understand how this would work. But somehow it does.

Luckily our producer and director are used to a more drawn out pace.

After working with the local production coordinator and AD, I’m confident about where we’re at 2 weeks out.

More to follow.

*You can find the link for the documentary – “A Kenyan Sunrise” here: