“Ayusin na lang sa post.”
If you’ve ever worked on a movie set, you might have heard this a lot. After days and nights filled with endless hours of shooting, it’s the post-production (or post) team’s turn to get their hands dirty. But more often than not, if that phrase is said after shoots, the post team will be expecting patchy reels of footage. They will need to double the effort if they are to produce—or salvage—a film worthy of an audience.
The local film industry has seen a rise in the Philippines, with the typical rom-coms now expanding into different territories such as My Ex and Whys, Love You To The Stars And Back, and more recently The Hows Of Us and Exes Baggage. Production houses are beginning to dive into deeper genres, seen in the successes of Heneral Luna and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral. Yet behind these blockbusters, some friction often occurs in the post-production process. “Sa post natin ayusin?” Not always.
In a recent series of talks organized by Viddsee Juree at the De La Salle–College of Saint Benilde, film editor Thop Nazareno (Kiko Boksingero, Mamang), colorist Eric Carlos (Ang Huling El Bimbo, Serbis), and sound engineer Mike Idioma (Citizen Jake, El Presidente) were invited to talk about the importance of post-production that seems to be underestimated. MB Life interviewed the three after the talk for more in-depth insights on post-production significance.
Carlos has one thing to say about the phrase “sa post natin ayusin”—BS. Nazareno adds there is a feeling of annoyance “Kaya niyo naman ayusin sa set, bakit hindi?” he says. “Ibig sabihin hindi niyo ginawa ng maayos yung trabaho niyo, kami yung masisisi.” Nazareno also referenced experiences where he had to salvage scenes from poor acting, things that often get on editors’ nerves.
This brought up the common misconception that post-production people are hands-off until shooting wraps up. All three agree that it’s important for post to be there as early as conceptualization. “Maganda yung involved ang post sa pre-production pa lang,” Carlos says, “Hindi mo naman maiiwasan ang zero problems or issues, but at least mababawasan.”
Idioma uses the late film director Marilou Diaz-Abaya as an example for post’s early involvement. Diaz-Abaya, known for films like Jose Rizal and Muro-ami (where Idioma worked on), always had a team of “generals” for each division of the film. “Nakakaalam na ng mga gusto niya, pati sikreto niya, Importante yun kasi alam mo na yung diskarte niya, hindi na kailangan buhusan pa, nandoon na sa script.”
A good collaboration with the director is key to success in post-production and to film making overall. Nazareno, who has experience in both directing and editing, sees it important to have a good relationship with everyone in the post team as they are the last audience “bago mo ilabas sa fresh audience.” He mentions having Heneral Luna director Jerrold Tarog, also a director-editor, as an inspiration for having the advantage of seeing through the entire process.
The relationship extends to all other portions of the post team, such as the colorist and cinematographer. In Carlos’ perspective, “There needs to be an open communication. Creative, collaborative most of the time.” Visions never clash because each offer suggestions or do studies on what fits the film’s theme and mood. In an ideal world, directors would hire the people they want or know are perfect for them, but oftentimes they are dictated by budget. Having a good relationship with the director is always advised.
Speaking of budgets, Nazareno feels the unfairness that post-production gets because of them being left at the end. “Ang perception nila is, ‘Kailangan matapos ang shoot, kailangan ng mga additional shooting days.’ So kukuhua sila ng budget sa post-production,” Nazareno shres. There is a lack of respect because the post team puts in the same amount effort, and often have to pick up the pieces with lesser resources.
Idioma’s solution to the budget problem is having a fixed rate, which he uses in his production studio Wildsound. He has assigned rates whether it is a mainstream film, an indie film, or even a student-made film. “Ganoon ang presyo, hindi na gumagalaw iyon,” Idioma says. “At the same time I’m teaching the industry. So maintindihan lang nila.”
Carlos praised the increasing presence of local film festivals like Cinemalaya and Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino as it pushes independent producers to invest in post-production. Since big studios like Star Cinema and Regal Entertainment tend to focus on the MMFF, smaller production houses are given the chance to push their budget and excel with the same, and sometimes greater, level of quality. “It’s good for the industry,” the colorist surmises.
While it’s the actors, directors, and writers that get most of the credit when a film is a big hit at the box office, there is a growing hope that people working in post-production will also receive the same amount of recognition. Or at the very least be regarded with the same amount of importance. Without them, movies will just be raw, endless, and a jumbled amount sounds mixed together. They deserve every bit of praise for executing visions, putting the final touches, and making films so much better.