Three things 11 – 5 March 2012

Astute readers may notice that I post this series every three days. Unfortunately, I forgot. I will post the next one in the series this Thursday, 8 March, and hopefully I won’t forget to do this again.

1. The evening of March 1 found me at Freedom Bar on Anonas Street, Quezon City, where your correspondent once did interviews for a story on a gig series that ended on a happier note than expected. I can say that this was the third time I was there–the first time was seven or eight years ago with some of my high school friends launching an album. (I think it was also an Admit One gig!)

But the occasion was for the independent filmmaker John Torres. He launched a fundraising campaign for his new feature Lukas Nino, a homage to the late Ishmael Bernal. Defying a trend especially espoused by one of his more prominent friends, he decided to shoot part of the feature with 35 mm film. That would cost him PHP 500,000, something which his grant could not support.

So he asked us, some of his friends, to help him out and encourage others to help. It was a night for his friends from different scenes, worlds which rarely meet, to gather in his support. John may be someone who may often go the experimental route (and thus earn him the kind of credibility to go on the festival circuit, sometimes) and has the skill, creativity, and humor to pull it off. The earlier feature Ang Ninanais was, for all its signs of being an experimental film, something I enjoyed because it featured one long riff on subtitling.

So what more can I say? Read more on what John is doing and show your support. I will join the happy crowd at some point.

2. This brings me to the idea of crowdfunding. I first learned about this some time ago, when I first heard of a site called Kickstarter. Unfortunately, since it only funded US projects at the time (and still only does, I think), I wondered if an enterprising Filipino group could come up with something similar.

Some time later, at the Electronica Manila gig, someone mentioned the ArtisteConnect site, whose look matches Kickstarter (uh oh), but has a more narrow focus on artistic projects started in the Philippines. Some musicians I know are making use of the site, but it has not caught on as its creators have anticipated. Checking the site at present, I noted only one project that was overfunded, above the 100% target. It was for a noted French documentary filmmaker. The only project involving locals that was beyond the halfway mark to its target was at two thirds, with a month to go.

One evening, I heard someone rant about how pathetic a particular crowdsourcing effort (on the aforesaid local site) by a certain group was turning out to be. His explanation was this: would the band’s fans be really willing to invest large amounts of money in what their band would do? And given the social capital and resources the band had, would it have been safer to tap those? I agree with those assertions, but I think there is a deeper hypothesis that has yet to be explored–namely that crowdfunding seems to work in environments where good ideas/concepts are considered in themselves worthy of funding, and where the social capital/resources are not as strong enough as to make possible funding by people with weaker ties to the project proponents. I may want to see John’s project, the first (to my knowledge) crowd-funded project that is outside the ArtisteConnect umbrella, as something that could be a good case study. (Or if someone can pick it up, they are welcome, but they must cite me.)

3. Finally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. My organization’s magazine may have a feature in the second half of the year on churches as art, exploring how post-Vatican II churches have become sites for expressing a contemporary aesthetic in the light of a historic faith. But the agenda may be broader than that.

There is a useful site for starting to explore what the Council did, and this is my first theological recommendation in a long while.

Next time, I will write about an alternative press festival and Women’s Day, and the connection between these.

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