Director Avid Liongoren said “conflict of interest” did not cross his mind when he decided to accept the offer of Solar Entertainment to distribute his movie Saving Sally, one of the competing entries in Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2016.
“It’s not an advantage at all,” Liongoren attested, explaining that Solar has no promotional arm.
“It’s a distribution company, we have to promote on our own,” said the director at a press forum for MMFF 2016 held at Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City, Thursday, December 8.
LAST RESORT? Liongoren said that his difficulty in finding the right distributor for Saving Sally was tantamount to that of “buhay-pulubi.”
“The reason I went with Solar was I thought I had no options.
“Solar is supportive, pero wala siyang ganun na clout na naiisip ng tao about this whole thing.”
Liongoren admitted that Solar had a “standing offer” to distribute Saving Sally as early as June 2016.
According to him, there was no formal negotiation between him and William Tieng, Solar Pictures president, until weeks after Saving Sally made it to MIFF 2016’s Magic 8 on November 18.
The dates are crucial in that MMFF prohibits any member of the Executive Committee (Execom) from joining the festival “in whatever capacity.”
And Tieng, apart from being a member of the festival’s Execom, was also in the Sales and Playdate Monitoring Committee at that time.
But according to Philippine Entertainment Portal’s report dated December 2, MMFF 2016 Execom member and spokesperson Boots Anson-Rodrigo said that Tieng had quit the sales and playdate committee.
FAILED NEGO WITH STAR CINEMA. Liongoren explained that it took him long to accept Solar's offer because he was actually eyeing Star Cinema to distribute Saving Sally.
“The best case scenario for us would have been with Star Cinema.
"Nung na-announce yung listahan [MMFF 2016 official entries], kinongratulate ako nila Ms. Malou [Santos, Star Cinema managing director].
"Ang next step na lang, 'Usap tayo.'
“What happened was... being a big company siguro, matagal bago ako nabalikan.
“And the one week na nakausap ko ulit, nagka-miscommunication pa."
Basically, Liongoren was told by Star Cinema’s booking agent that it would cost him money to market his film.
Understandably, he was caught off-guard, “I spent all my savings in making the film.
“To be told na you have to pay this much to get your film out there…
“Parang, ‘Ano’ng nangyayari? Ayaw na ba nila ng film namin?’
“Even then, naghintay pa rin ako na balikan ako.
“Nagtanong ako, ‘Puwede po kaya niyong kunin yung film namin? I’ll give up my rights or equity basta take on our film.’
“Sabi nila, ‘Sige, we’ll get back to you.’”
Saving Sally's director Avid Liongoren and writer Charlene Esguerra
SAYING YES TO SOLAR. Liongoren related that weeks passed, but he still did not receive any word from Star Cinema.
He had to make a decision, “Nung nakita ko na buhay pa rin yung offer from Solar, sabi ko, ‘Yes, I’ll take that.’
“I wasn’t even thinking of any deal. I was just thinking, ‘Something has to move now.’”
Liongoren stressed that his only consideration was to find a distributor who won’t charge him additional expenses that he could no longer afford.
“We’re actually giving up more of our share so that they can do it for us without having to spend [anything more].
“Even at this point we’re still handicapped…
“We’re still raising funds para may mapakain kami sa presscon.
“Day to day ang laban namin... Buhay-pulubi."
For related issues concerning MMFF 2016, read the following stories: