‘Golden opportunity for content creators’

·4 min read

LOCAL content creators have gained new clients even at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as demand for entertainment surged during the lockdown.

“It’s a strange thing, but we are getting more opportunities at least for local content creators now compared to during the pre-pandemic time,” said Lawrence Panganiban of the Creative Content Creators Association of the Philippines, during the recently concluded Creative Industry Coffee Table discussion of the Cebu Business Month 2021.

The surge in screen viewing has been noted since the pandemic was announced last year, forcing people to stay at home as government authorities and medical frontliners contain the Covid-19 global transmission.

“Stuck-at-home people want entertainment and this puts pressure on the likes of Netflix, Warner Bros. and Amazon, among others, to churn out more shows. We all need good shows, good dramas to keep us sane,” he said.

Animation, another sub-sector in the creative, has been having a busy pandemic year.

Emot Amodia of Cebu Animation Guild said since live-filming was temporarily stopped due to lockdowns, companies turned to animation to still pursue their projects.

“We’ve got so many projects during the year. In fact, we’ve turned down some because we can no longer accommodate them,” said Amodia.

Golden opportunity

Such a rise in demand, according to Panganiban, can be translated to more opportunities for the creative sector in terms of revenue and employment.

He said now is the right time for local content creators to showcase their stories, especially since everyone now has the access to the global content market—on places where they could sell their ideas for a show or video game for production.

“All major content markets have gone online. We are seeing so many opportunities now for original content. There has never been a more beautiful time to create your story and get it up there than now,” he said.

Panganiban cited the locally produced animation series Trese, adopted from a local comic book, which opened the doors of opportunities to the Philippines. The series, which was shown on Netflix, drew interest from international producers to get more stories from the Philippines.

“It’s a matter of us grabbing the opportunity while it is hot,” he said, noting that countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam are also drumming up efforts to capture a good slice of this so-called golden opportunity.

Financial pain, tech pivot

But other sub-sectors in Cebu’s creative scene were and have been hurt by the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But thanks to technology, they have moved their ventures online.

Hendri Go of Little Boy Productions said they’ve halted all theater productions and workshops since the first lockdown in 2020. It was only during this year when they moved the workshops online.

Go said besides getting Cebuanos to join the online workshop, they were able to get enrollees too from Singapore and Los Angeles.

“This online thing opened new markets for us,” he said.

Go said they are doing more activities this year, even an after school program for the first time in their 20 years of operations to cater to more children who are stuck at home.

Filmmaking, on the other hand, was one of those in high levels of financial pain since last year.

Films and movie attendance plunged during the pandemic as cinemas and other theaters were forced to temporarily close.

Filmmakers were also forced to temporarily halt live shootings and downsize.

Mel Allego, president of Cebu International Film Festival, said the pandemic really had a substantial impact on the film industry. But, on the other hand, it also allowed those involved in the industry to think of creative ways of filming during times like this.

He said opportunities for collaboration opened up for future projects, and filmmakers were given more time to think and create better projects.

“It gave us more time to think about the material,” he said.

Cebu’s music scene also suffered last year as concerts, music events and other forms of music gatherings were halted.

Cattski Espina of 22 Tango Music Group lost income from live music due to the pandemic. Since then, they have pivoted to livestreaming to stay afloat.

“We were doing well at the start of 2020, and then you suddenly fell on the ground. But there’s hope because of these content creations, animations and videos—all these need music,” she said.

Hollywood in Cebu

Panganiban suggested that for Cebu’s creative scene to continue flourishing amid the tough times, the players need to band together.

“We need to create a vibrant production hub for Cebu, sort of Hollywood in Cebu,” he said.

But to do this, Panganiban said, they would need to create an ecosystem where everyone is helping. This includes the support even of the business community, concerned government agencies and creative community.

“We need to band together and create what the global market needs while at the same time holding that Filipino spirit. (KOC)

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