Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Makati Film Society Experience

   Back in 1977, three film enthusiasts joined hands to found a film society that would highlight memorable films.  The Makati Film Society was born.  The first project was a film revival festival to be shown in one of the theaters in Makati.  In those days there were large ones like The Rizal Theater and small ones like Quad.  A big one might be difficult to fill with a rerun film.  A small one would be perfect.

Festival Poster on Gloria's car
   Dick Cutab, the moving force of the society, initiated talks to rent a small theater for seven days.  He then went to the movie distribution companies to see what could be rented on a per day basis.  The brainstorming with the other two co-founders, Tess Novero, an accountant and Gloria Samson, an Advertising Account Executive took several days off and on.  Finally, the three came up with a choice of seven films to show in one  day each for seven days.  Posters would be printed to promote the project.  Apparently, using the tape tickets from the theaters would mess up the theater’s accounting records.  Festival tickets would have to be printed.  

   Quad management wanted PHP3,000. per day for one of the four theaters.  They didn’t have to come up with the cost of the entire seven days.  The ticket sales of the first day would take care of the succeeding days' rent.  Still, PHP3,000 was a fortune back then.  The three went scrambling for their share of PHP1,000 each.  They rummaged through their personal savings.  They tried to interest relatives to invest or get a loan.  A few days before the rent deadline, Dick and Tess had their shares secured.  Gloria had nothing, no savings that big, not good enough credit to qualify for a loan.  Renting a cinema and film was unheard of at that time.  Her parents and relatives thought she was being scammed.  They wanted no part of it.

   Then Gloria’s Aunty Aida arrived from the US for a vacation.  Gloria told her about the project but she had no hopes of getting a cent.  Gloria assumed Aida will be needing all her pocket money to spend on her vacation.

   “I can lend you the PHP1000 but it’s my shopping budget.  You’ll have to give it back a few days before my return to the US so I can shop in Divisoria,” Aida said as she handed Gloria the cash.  It was a surprise of Gloria’s life.  Her Aunt Aida gave without her asking.  That PHP1,000 became the seed money for her role in The Makati Film Society which lasted into the 80’s.

   The film's rent was PHP250 each but could be paid upon pick up of the film reels.  There was no deposit required.  After all, who would run off with several heavy reels that could be played only with a cinema projector? 

   The Makati Film Society film revival projects were promoted with free press releases, the Eat Bulaga television show gave free 2 seconds camera shots of the posters and announced the movies scheduled.  The first project grossed well in the box office insuring the budget for succeeding film festivals in Quad and in Ali Mall theaters.  Notable movies shown were The Godfather, Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein, Franco Zefirreli’s Romeo and Juliet, the only one that featured the original Shakespeare language in the dialogue.

   The arrival of Batamax movie copies in the mid-80's killed the film revival projects.  The three co-founders moved on to different directions but it was fun while it lasted.  

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