Bob’s Biggest Train Ride to Busan

He would watch a film in the cinema every week.  That’s where the interest started.  Then there came the opportunity to produce a film that eventually got to the Busan International Film Festival in 2018.  Not pun intended, he did ride the train to Busan.  But that was not one horrific ride.   Being at the festival ignited that spark of interest that eventually made Bob Rodriguez apply as a scholar in the Busan Film Academy known as AFIS or Asian Film School.

Bob is not new to producing films.  While at BIFF 2018, he was already producing another documentary film that was a finalist of Sinesaysay Documentary Film Lab and Showcase of the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.   Both films he produced for the region because he believed that the regions have a lot of stories to tell – especially this one place right at the heart of the country.

Iloilo has been in the cinematic forefront when we look into Philippine Cinema.    With this opportunity, Bob hopes to take the lead once more by learning the ropes of film producing in one of the biggest film schools in Asia that brings out the annual biggest film festival in Asia as well.  Busan opened its film school in 2016 with its film producing program starting 2017.   Perhaps it was by fate the Bob Rodriguez was in Busan in the following year and now in 2020, he takes on the challenge of studying in the film school with foresight of bringing filmmaking in the region to a level that will be of national and even global interest.

Currently, Bob is teaching at the University of the Philippines Visayas and handles Communication and Media Studies courses – film being one of them.   This is perhaps the edge that he brought with him when he applied for the scholarship.   His being part of the academe gave him the much needed leverage because film education is very important since some have the notion that anybody can make a film.  And while this is true because it can practically be a point and shoot exercise, definitely there are theories to be learned and skills to be acquired, let alone the much-needed talent.

Seeing how filmmakers and especially producers work the room during film events, Bob realized that he can do the same.  As a communications specialist, he can definitely talk his way through the crowd.   Regional filmmakers will definitely need this front especially directors who would usually shy away from crowded places.  What Bob hopes to bring back is the network and business connections and even co-production opportunities for his region.   Ilonggo filmmakers are probably looking forward to this when Bob comes back after 6 months of training.  He intends to share and empower Ilonggo filmmakers and not only the film students of UP Visayas.  The idea is to create a strong film producing unit with well-trained filmmakers so that Ilonggo filmmaking can eventually create a definite future for itself.  Currently most Ilonggo filmmakers are mostly based in Manila.  Understandably that’s where the main film industry is located.  The Film Development Council of the Philippines, however, has been creating film programs to foster film education across the nation.  While FDCP has resources to create a nationwide film program, another one person can also make a difference.  This year, for the Busan Film School, an exception has been made.   Usually 1 slot is given to a deserving country.  This year 2 slots was given to the Philippines.  Bob Rodriguez is going with another producer from Manila, Geoderic Lomuntad.   That’s already saying a lot.  And so, as Filipinos, we look at this with pride and as his fellow Ilonggos we are all excited seeing that for thriving Ilonggo filmmakers, the global market is now at an arms length.