Friday, July 27, 2012

Storytelling to Storyselling

On July 26 and 27, 2012, the Department of Trade and Industry, Half Ton Truck, ActivAsia, Inc., in cooperation with Cinemalaya and the Cultural Center of the Philippines gave us "Made in the Philippines," the 2012 Film, Animation and Gaming Congress. This year's focus is "Storytelling to Storyselling." And as part of the congress, they invited Ralph Guggenheim, co-founder of Pixar and CEO of Alligator Planet; Eli Noyes, Oscar-nominated animator and President of Alligator Planet; Doug Barry, creator of Cartoon Network Online; and David Kostiner, founding partner of Counsel LLP, to share what they knew in the art and business of storytelling.

I know. Horrible picture-taking on my part. That's Pixar Co-founder Ralph Guggenheim with his back to us.  And with him are Film & TV Director Mike Alcazaren and Cinematographer Giboy Vistan.

Locally, they also invited representatives from content creating organizations to be part of a panel in discussing Filipino Original Creative Content on the first day of the congress. The panelists they invited included Miguel del Rosario, President of Toon City Animation; Niel Dagondon, President of Anino Games; Ben Banta, Studio Head of Gonzo Games; Film Director Benito Bautista, and other local film directors and cinematographers. They also invited people from the government and the private sector to talk about the business and legal side of storytelling on the second day.

I think it was a wonderful two days, filled with learning and a whole lot of useful realizations. Ralph Guggenheim and Doug Barry made keynote speeches, and the rest of the time was spent in panel. This gave everyone, speakers, panelists and audience alike, an opportunity to explore and draw our own conclusions on the current situation of creative work in the Philippines. More than the learning (and I learned a lot, especially on the legal side and marketing side of things), what I think we, Filipino creators, really needed, and I think realized during the congress, was to understand where we were exactly.

Most of us focus on creating content, but alot little thought and resources on marketing our work. We also have a tendency to look to foreign entities for approval before we accept a piece of local work, whether they're other Filipinos' or our own. I think this is beginning to change now, but for the longest time, we did not consider something successful unless it had made it big outside first. I'm sure this is not new to most of us. But it helps to have it articulated.

Another thing we realized was that there was very little communication, and thus, collaboration, between the different local creative industries. The directors didn't know the game development companies, who didn't know the music licensing organizations, who probably didn't know the social media peeps, and so on. I ran out of cards, not because of the speakers, but because of the other attendees, most of which were affiliated with other local creative organizations.

Consul General Marciano Paynor, Jr. giving the closing remarks. Some of us from the Game Developers' Association met with the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco last year. And one of the things they were really trying to push was marketing the Philippines to the young Filipinos who were born in the States. It's great that they were able to get in contact with Audie Vergara in SF, and this event came about.

And I guess the biggest thing I realized during the event was this: We can actually do this. Foreign investors are nice. And getting foreign icons to speak and share their experiences are certainly most welcome. But we can do this ourselves. We have local investors. We have local content. We have local marketers. But at the moment we're separate pieces of a large puzzle. I think it's just a matter of piecing the puzzle together. And once we're able to do that, I think it's going to be one awesome picture. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

iPads and Children

Nielsen did a study among households with tablets in 2011, and they found out that 7 out of 10 kids below 12 are using iPads. I don't even need to go far. All my friends who have iPads and who have children rave about how their kids just figure out how to use the iPad even without the parents teaching them (which shows me that their kids do frequently use their iPads). Now, sometimes, it seems wrong to just let kids play with tablets so that they'd behave themselves. But it is a fact that apps fascinate kids and hold their attention.

Have you seen kids nowadays? They're so... active... most of them seem to have ADHD. But give them an iPad and they can sit there and play with it for a long time (an average of 43 minutes, according to study). This got me thinking. I'm sure a lot of you have thought of this, too. But maybe it's time to change the format of how we teach.

Speak in front of kids. You'll be lucky to get 10 minutes of their undivided attention. Give them a tablet. They'll give it their undivided attention for almost an hour. Why? Because it's interactive. They can explore apps. Traditional teaching requires them to just listen. It's one-sided. With apps, they can go with their own pace, and for most kids, that's faster than the classroom's pace. They move around a lot because class is too slow. They're bored.

I know the government is doing something about our education system. But maybe implementing K-12 isn't the solution. Lengthening the time they spend in class doesn't seem like the right move. This is merely my opinion, of course. But what if we introduced a new game with a new story each grading period, instead of introducing a new lesson. The lesson will be integrated in the game and would come out as just a means to progress in the game instead of the actual point of it. Maybe, just maybe, we should start looking into edutainment as a mainstream form of education, and not just a supplement. What do you think?