Filmmaker under lockdown: Carlo Obispo


Carlo Obispo was looking forward to shooting his next film. It meant something special for him. He was a finalist of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival this year, the same festival where he premiered his debut film Purok 7 (Zone 7) in 2013, and which gave him the distinction of opening the festival's 2016 edition with his film 1-2-3. It was a son's homecoming of sorts, but when the entire country was put on a lockdown, Obispo saw himself returning to his hometown, and defying boundaries, he embarked on a worthwhile pursuit under lockdown. 

"My film crew and I were on our way back to Manila when rumors of a lockdown were starting to circulate in social media. We had just completed our ocular inspection for our Cinemalaya film project which would be shot in a couple of months. With no idea how a lockdown would be like, except the distant horrific images of Wuhan, our team surmised that we could probably work online so that we would be prepared to shoot once the lockdown is lifted a month after. Eventually, with the extension and re-extension of the lockdown, the Cultural Center of the Philippines or CCP anounced the cancelation of all its 2020 events including Cinemalaya. Therefore putting all film projects to a halt. 

Luckily for me, I was able to come home to my family in Camiling, Tarlac, before the lockdown. In spite of being home, it still took me a while to establish a productive routine during this Community Quarantine. I first settled with writing scripts, helping with household chores, and then attending masterclasses, gardening, and riding a motorbike. And then, most interestingly, the best part of my daily routine started to come at night.


I login to Zoom or Facebook Live at 8:30pm to join the Online Film Lab for Regional Stories, an online film discussion initiated by small group of filmmakers called North Luzon Cinema Guild. It started as an online film mentorship where established filmmakers and media practitioners such as Zig Dulay, Oscar Oida, Angeli Bayani, and many more generously share their knowledge and expertise to the younger generation of filmmakers mostly coming from the regions [and provinces outside of the capital Manila]. The online discussion is not just an opportunity to bond with filmmakers from the regions, it also encourages the younger generation to focus on making films that articulate their unique regional identity.

Now on its second season (thanks to the lockdown extension), the online lab has evolved to online live screening of short films followed by a talkback with their respective filmmakers. Listening to young filmmakers passionately talk about their films and their filmmaking experiences is truly a breath of fresh air, always. Thanks to this initiative of NLCG – the lockdown has become more bearable through looking forward to more stories to come out from the regions that will hopefully find their place in Philippine cinema."

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