Announcement by Edwin A. Santos
Monday, February 19, 2018
Last month, Gina Rodriguez (Jane The Virgin) wrote an open letter in Variety as it condemned Hollywood for the lack of Latino representation both in front of and behind the camera in film and television. This follows the Oscar nominations which did not include a single Latino talent in the four performance categories [link]. She tweeted the following quote from Viola Davis following the nominations on January 23 with “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
This prompt Filipina American actress Shelby Rabara (Steven Universe, Goliath) to tweet, “I feel the same exact way about the lack of Filipino representation on [s]creen” with the hashtag #letsgopinoysandpinays
Selma filmmaker Ava DeVernay responded in a tweet with “One of the leads of my next film [A] Wrinkle In Time is a tremendous Filipino actor. I want more to know about the rarely seen representation he embodies. He is Deric McCabe (above) and once you meet him in the movie, you won’t forget him.” [link]
I agree only half of Ms. Rabara’s perspective that there are not many Filipino representation in film and television. Take television in 2017, there have been more Filipino representation on the small screen from lead to supporting to guest star to costar to recurring. Which are a whole lot more than in film. In Cinema 2017, I cited Eugene Cordero (of Kong: Skull Island), Jacob Batalon (of Spider-man: Homecoming), Teo Briones (of Wind River), Eden Estrella (of The Fate of The Furious) and Dave Bautista (of Bushwick, Blade Runner 2049 and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2) were seen on the big screen while Dean Devlin directed Geostorm and Matthew Libatique lensed Mother! [link].
Deric will not be the last FilAm representation in film for 2018. Just last month, Sonya Balmores was seen in Den of Thieves and Michael Golamco’s wrote the film, Please Stand By. This month of February, there have been Filipino contributions on two previously released Hollywood box office motion pictures. And aside from A Wrinkle In Time, there are two other new films with Filipino American actors schedule to release.
A couple of weeks ago on Friday, February 9, the third installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed was theatrically released nationwide. And, in the original motion picture soundtrack included the song, “Capital Letters” from FilAm singer Hailee Steinfeld.
And, the wedding dress Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson) wore was exclusively tailored by the request of the producers just for the film, Fifty Shades Freed by Filipina American fashion designer, Monique Lhuillier.
Last Friday, February 16, Marvel’s Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler was released in theaters nationwide. Also at movie theaters where all of their screening rooms were just showing Black Panther throughout this three-day Presidents Day holiday weekend.
In the film’s original motion picture soundtrack includes a song produced by Grammy nominated Filipino American music producer, !llmind along with Sounwave called, X (with 2 Chainz & Saudi) – Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz & Saudi.
“This marks the second #1 Disney movie soundtrack I produced music on (Moana was the 1st). It’s looking like Black Panther is on track to being the biggest…” !llmind tweeted.
Black Panther: The Album is set to deliver the strongest album debut for a Walt Disney Company movie in at least five years (source: Nielsen Music). The album debuted at #1 on the U.S Billboard Charts.
Moreover, one of Marvel’s Senior Visual Development Illustrators, Anthony Francisco, born in the Philippines, used Filipino designs on the Dora Milaje, the Black Panther‘s female warrior guards. [link]. Also Filipino martial arts are noticeable in the fight scenes in the film.
As of this writing, Black Panther has broken multiple box office records this weekend with an estimated global debut of over $350 million. And, the film continues to grow strong based on word-of-mouth, social media and repeat attendance. It is the biggest Marvel film opening for the Marvel Universe.
This coming Friday, February 23 is Orion Pictures’s Every Day starring Filipino American Jacob Batalon (his follow-up after Spider-man: Homecoming) based on the New York Times Best Seller.
And, next week, March 9 will be, not only the release of Ava DeVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time starring FilAm Deric McCabe, but also The Leisure Seeker starring Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren with Filipino American actor Marc Fajardo supporting.
“Inclusion and representation matter. We’ve seen it time and again and the results speak for themselves, whether it’s a female protagonist in the Star Wars movies, the representation of Polynesian in Moana, or the wonderful story in Coco which was embraced so proudly around the world. We make movies for a global audience of seven billion who come from all walks of life and reflect the diversity of our world. Audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the screen, and it makes for better and richer storytelling…” says Disney distribution lead Dave Hollis. [link].
This is why FilAm Creative took the lead in representing Filipino and Filipino American filmmakers by creating their FilAm Creations Filmmakers Challenge Initiative in early 2017. In one year, the next generation of Filipino filmmakers have made over 30 short films. Many made its World Premiere at the 33rd Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and all of them were screened to the public twice. A handful of members has branched out to produce both film and television content with Filipinos in mind.
“With the success of Black Panther and it’s mainly minority cast, there’s a chance that ‘minority films’ can fill the void. Soon, they won’t be seen as minority films but rather, simply as, Hollywood films. It won’t matter if it’s a mainly black cast or a mainly an Asian cast, it will just be a cast..” says former FilAm Creations lead and filmmaker Craig Obligacion-Wilson (Lolo Pepe, The Atomic Kids, Lagim).
2018 FilAm Creative Co-Director of Business Development, Leo Partible adds, “I want to alert you all to why a movie like Black Panther and the current climate send the message that NOW IS OUR TIME! Our allies folks. It’s time. We’re next up.”
If there is any other indication, it was announced last week that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and producer Dan Lin has launched the Evolve Entertainment Fund to promote inclusion. It was unveiled at a news conference at Rideback Ranch — Lin’s rebranded production company — in Historic Filipinotown. Rideback Ranch will not only house Lin’s company and Lego Movie Headquarters, but will also be home to Warner Animation Group and David Ayer’s new company.
DuVernay announced at the event opening that a new headquarters for her Array Entertainment will move in the same area on Glendale Boulevard. She is opening up a three building campus for her production company and her show Queen Sugar is not too far from the area. The campus will be a collective for women and filmmakers of color. The Evolve fund is an alliance between the City of Los Angeles, industry leaders in entertainment and digital media, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions.
This is great news as DuVernay, Lin and many others will help bring businesses to the Historic Filipinotown community as well as to inspire and provide young people – of the Filipino middle class community another choice – to pursue a career in Hollywood [link] and increase Filipino representation and write and tell our stories on a bigger and mainstream scale much like Deric McCabe and many others before him has.