Fame is easy to come by these days. Celebrity wannabees need only to join a reality show or get a few million hits on YouTube to start a film or a singing career.
But for those who’d rather be behind the camera than onscreen, hitting the big time still requires a traditional recipe: talent, skill, hard work, and great networking. The six friends who comprise Sindikato Productions—Paolo Apagalang, Robby Brillantes, Jan Parma, MC Quito, Edzon Rapisora, and Enzo Valdez—are eager to prove that they've got what it takes to succeed in show business.
In high school, the aspiring filmmakers would find any excuse to make videos for academic projects. In college, the group sought out other ways to develop their craft. Mr. Brillantes, Mr. Valdez, and Mr. Rapisora, for instance, joined the Loyola Film Circle, while Mr. Apagalang trained under Tanghalang Ateneo. Mr. Quito came on board after working with another production house, and Mr. Parma, the youngest of the team, started out as their personal assistant. It was at university that they all came together, taking the name Sindikato, "because it's just cool," Mr. Rapisora, head of operations, said.
This youthful spirit, however, becomes a double-edged sword when they face clients. Mr. Valdez, chief executive officer, said that their fresh ideas may land them the job, but their relative inexperience means that clients often try to pay them less. Professionalism with contracts and schedules don’t seem to work, either.
"There came a point when we had to pretend and look old; we grew our hair and didn't shave," Mr. Valdez said. Young, maybe—all of its members are aged 25 years or under—but inept is not a description that Sindikato will agree with. The group writes, directs, acts, animates, and adds visual effects—and they have a growing portfolio to prove their versatility.
They began with music videos for various bands; their video for 6 Cycle Mind's "Saludo" rankednumber one on the MYX music channel for several months in 2008. Afterwards, they were tapped to create audiovisual presentations for corporations like Wyeth Philippines, Inc., and DMCI Homes. Sindikato eventually broke into television commercials; at the time of the interview, the group was preparing a TVC for Nagaraya snacks.
Their post-production arm, Micro Monsters, is busy with its own gigs. Sindikato considers its music video for singer Sam Concepcion's cover of "Kung Fu Fighting," created for the regional release of Dreamworks Pictures' "Kung Fu Panda," its breakout production. "We worked hard on it for two weeks, and almost no one slept, for the chance that [director Steven] Spielberg might watch it," Mr. Valdez said.
The members are entitled to their own sideline every now and then, not only for additional income, but also to acquire new skills that would be useful for the firm. Mr. Valdez and Mr. Rapisora have done some writing for Regal Films, while Mr. Quito helps make trailers for Hollywood movies like "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."
The group has also begun working on an independent feature film of their own: "Kaleidoscope World," a film tribute to the late musician Francis Magalona, which it wants to release in March next year, in time for the rapper’s death anniversary.
There are grander ambitions. "Sindikato's a piece of a major puzzle," Mr. Apagalang said. In time, they want the firm to expand to events management, music recording, and band management; if it's true to its name, Sindikato should eventually grow large enough to cover all segments of the entertainment industry.
Though media production is a year-round stint, in its current stage, Sindikato's work is somewhat seasonal. "There have been dry spells where we could only pray. Then come the next month, when there are so many projects and none of us get any sleep," Mr. Rapisora said, noting that the Christmas season has been a high time for music videos, while corporate AVPs tend to rack up in January and June.
They use the slow periods to test their networking skills and to take a little personal downtime. "Sometimes, the work burns you out, so we take vacations," Mr. Valdez said. During these breaks, the group likes to play video games or watch new movies, which give them a chance check out new production techniques. They also work on their own monthly shorts and virals, just to keep the creative process going.
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