Issues in Philippine Cinema

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1.What is your assessment of the state of media research in the Philippines? Choose a particular form of mass media and identify three (3) major issues and concerns besetting it. To what extent has research been made on such issues and concerns? Cite concrete cases to prove your point.

The Philippine film industry, considered by many critics, producers, directors, movie workers, is either slowly but surely dying or is already dead. Notice the use of the term "Philippine film industry" instead of "Philippine cinema." This is such for the main reason that the people who deem filmmaking in the Philippines dead, qualify their assumption based on box-office returns and the profit their movies make. Hence it is more apt to use the term film industry since what they are describing not the film medium per se but that of the commercial side of filmmaking. Not discounting that movie-making is also a business in which most mainstream producers are more interested in making money rather than making movies of quality, and to the fact that any business' survival highly depends on revenue, it is also worth taking a look at an issue that is plaguing the film industry.

There is a consensus among local producers and film outfits that there are two main reasons why they consider the industry dying – unreasonable high government taxes and the proliferation of movie piracy. It is imperative for the government to impose taxes on almost everything vital and important for a citizen, in this way they keep themselves alive. The Philippine movie industry is the most heavily taxed business sector in the Philippines. A released movie is imposed a 30% amusement tax, translating to a formula that a movies have to gross three times the capital for it to just break even. So a 10 million movie must earn more than 30 million at the box-office otherwise it would all have been for nothing. Although "pito-pito" films try to find a way around this "formula," the downside however is the low production-value with actors and actresses almost unheard of. Another way of working around the situation is casting big time celebrities, famous love teams, matinee idols and teenage sweethearts that have a tremendous pull on the movie going "masa." Accompany this with a sure-fire formula film format and you got yourself a winner. Though this is a little risky, its worth the gamble if a producer sets his mind on the possible return of investment. Therefore, by concocting a sure blockbuster hit that rakes in a million pesos on its first day of showing, it softens the blow and offsets the high government taxes. Mind you, it is not as fool proof as it may seem and if ever does pull off a gimmick to compensate for high government taxes, another antagonist is just waiting in for the kill. No matter how promising a movie may be, the more it is prone to bootlegged copies that come out even before its theatrical release, the potential blockbuster has been pre-empted by a pirated DVD with picture quality at par with the original. According to the International Intellectual Property Rights Alliance, the Philippines is on their priority watch list among other Asian countries like China (ranked number 1) and India (ranked number 2). There have been a lot of articles and showbiz columns attacking piracy and how it is damaging the film industry, but we as readers remain clueless as to what extent. The search for more concrete examples and data has led me to two thesis studies done by undergraduate students of the College of Economics in UP Diliman entitled The Damage of Video Piracy to the Philippine Movie Industry by Yasmin Rahman et al. and the Cross Country Time Series Study of the Determinants of Movie Piracy by Harlene Caranguian et al. Both research studies provide statistical data of correlations that provide helpful insight on how piracy has contributed to the decline of mainstream movie revenues as well as to why movie piracy is still prevalent in the country....
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