Singapore-based creative development and production outfit Cre8 Productions and Philippines-based entertainment company Ursa Entertainment inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-produce a slate of three film and television projects on the sidelines of the Asia TV Forum and Screen Singapore (ATF-SS) today.

The ATF-SS is Southeast Asia’s leading platform for media companies and professionals to learn, network and forge new partnerships through pitch forums, conferences and workshops. An annual feature of the Singapore Media Festival, the country-of-focus for this year’s event is the Philippines.

The collaboration between Cre8 and Ursa is an example of the rapid growth of the Philippines’ media industry into new markets. The collaboration between the two entities will see the parties working closely to develop exciting new concepts for film and television. The goal of the slate is to push the envelope in regional filmmaking.

Chan Gin Kai, the Managing Partner and Executive Producer of Cre8 explains, “For a long time, Southeast Asian filmmakers have been trapped by tight budgets and our own psychological constraints into two categories: Either you produce a commercial flick that would typically be a slapstick comedy, grindhouse horror or fluffy romance that does well in the local market but is limited in its exportability; or you produce an art house film that garners multiple accolades internationally but flops at the box office. But we do not need to fall into either stereotype. There is a lot of talent in our region, and the world market is growing increasingly open to content of more diverse languages and genres. It is an opportune time for us to dare to dream bigger, and aim for the global market place.”

The projects in the slate include PINTADOS, an edgy crime thriller set in the slums of Manila. The story is about a team of basketball players in a local league, that uses their competition travels to different barangays as a front for burglaries. Packed with energetic basketball sequences and thrilling crime action, the film will be fast paced, but allow time to explore the inner conflicts of the characters.

Another exciting project in the slate is SILANG. Set in the Philippines in the 18th century when the country suffered from the oppression of Spanish colonizers and a British invasion, the historical epic tells the story of Gabriela Silang, the heroine of the revolutionary movement. Described as a JOAN OF ARC meets BRAVEHEART, the series is packed with political intrigues and features Philippines’ local martial arts, Eskrima. 

Jessel Monteverde, Executive Producer of Ursa Entertainment, elaborates, “In the past, Asian films relied only on their local markets to try to earn at the box office. But the industry has changed over the past decade. The rise of OTT platforms and other distribution channels has allowed regional films to cross borders. We are now able to tell universal stories with an Asian flavour all around the world.”

His producing partner, Suzanne Richiardone states, “There is no lack of talent in the Philippines and the region. But there has been a lack of budgets and patience in development. Budgets and investments in content are starting to grow, now our courage to push the limits of our creativity must grow as well. Our mandate is to tap into international resources to develop and nurture creative projects.”

Chan Gin Kai adds, “Jessel, Suzanne, and I, and our development team, have spent long but enjoyable days brainstorming ideas, thrashing them, and leaving no stones unturned as we explored each possible plot development. It means putting all creative egos aside in the interest of the story. I look forward to many more tiring but fruitful development sessions with the team”.