Central Digital Lab, a digital post-production company that creates visual effects for advertising and films from both major prod houses and indie outfits, is getting their hands dirty cleaning up old movies. We're talking classics such as Peque Gallaga's Oro Plata Mata and Ishmael Bernal's Himala, although modern favorites including Star Cinema's Milan and Tanging Yaman have also been getting the filmshining treatment.
For the older (and more damaged) films, the work the lab has been putting forth has transformed into somewhat of an advocacy. Manet Dayrit, Central Digital's president, whom we got to talk to, describes it as their way of giving back to the industry. As a film student, the former technical consultant for the Film Development Council, once saw a re-screening of Oro during her college days. The reel, simply put, was horrible, she recalls: "I couldn't study the work of our masters!"
Henceforth, Dayrit soon found herself at the forefront of preserving the most culturally valuable films of our country—films that we could truly be proud of as a nation. Himala and Oro Plata Mata is just the beginning.
"What we're trying to do is to preserve these gems, the creativity of all these artists, for future generations to appreciate the past," says Dayrit.
This is a good thing; at the very least, we'll always be reminded that we all once lauded films that aren't your typical commercial Pinoy rom-com fare.
Below is our full chat with Ms. Dayrit. After which, you'll see samples of their work, and bits and pieces on the film restoration process.
So how did you get into the business of film restoration?
We’ve been doing this for 10 years now. When we were still part of Road Runner [production house] we were doing minor restoration work for ABS-CBN, who is our main client now. Their archive of films is quite impressive. I’ve been trying to get them—as well as other clients—to do restoration work on their own films.
I was telling Mother Lily in the ’90s that they have a goldmine. Back in the day, after it was shown theatrically, no one really cared about the video part. Plus, it wasn’t cost-effective. Now they’re realizing that the content can be used for so much more. Fortunately, 10 years later, the technology has gotten so much better and cost-effective. We were able to put together a workflow that works for the client.
Is this a long-term goal?
The great thing about this project with ABS-CBN is it’s a long-term relationship. I have a three-year plan to digitize 3,000 films from their archives.
What films are you proud of restoring recently?
Our big films of 2012 were definitely Himala and Oro Plata Mata. We’ve also done a lot of old Star Cinema films like Milan and Tanging Yaman. ABS-CBN already has HD channels and want these films restored for that platform.
NEXT: Why it's important to preserve these movies
AS SEEN IN THE PEEK SECTION OF FHM'S FEBRUARY 2013 ISSUE