On July 24, I was fortunate enough to fly to Manila, Philippines for the screening of my first feature documentary, Product of the Philippines at the Cinemalaya Film Festival. The film is about Jennilyn Antonio and her family who have been fighting poverty all their lives. Several years ago, they had reached a point where almost all hope was lost until, through some divine inspiration, Jennilyn chanced upon a stack of peanuts at the market and was inspired to create her own unique form of peanut butter. Since that day in 2006, she has become one of the most successful micro-entrepreneurs in the Philippines and a huge success story.
The film has been accepted into four festivals — Cinemalaya (Manila), Third World Indie Film Festival (San Jose, CA), ReelWorld Film Festival (Toronto, ON), and Globians Doc Festival (Berlin, Germany). But because of the cost of flights, I have only been able to watch it at Cinemalaya and at no other festivals; however, I promised myself I had to attend the screening at the Philippines. The process of making the film took just over a year from pre-production to post-production, with post-production taking the bulk of the time at about 8 months.
Shooting took us all around the northern part of the Philippines during the blistering summer heat. We were briefly able to look into the hardships Jennilyn endured and the success that has come from her struggle. We shot on two Canon 7D DSLRs with the following lenses 35mm, 50mm, 70-250, and fell in love with the 10-20mm sigma and Lense Baby.
Post-production meant taking the myriad of footage and interviews we had and distilling it down to an hour and twenty minute film. All the footage fit into 4 2TB hard drives I was working off of and luckily I only had a few hiccups along the way, including one failed hard drive; I was able to recover all the data (phew!)
The festival screening was a success in my eyes and it was a really fulfilling experience! Because of the anticipation for the film, they upgraded the screening from 100 seats to 400! It sold out the week before the premiere.
The film is continuing to make its festival run this year and the next step after this is finding distribution both locally in the Philippines and internationally.