Call them ‘TBA Studios’ from hereon

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TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

‘Heneral Luna’s’ group of producers officially merge to roll out big movie projects, partnership deals
The entities Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Entertainment and Artikulo Uno Productions are such a mouthful to utter when talking about the team behind the unprecedented box office hit “Heneral Luna,” that the men behind these creative houses—Fernando Ortigas and EA Rocha—rightly decided to consolidate the trio of companies under one simple name. After all, they have gone on to churn one critically acclaimed movie after another since the fantastic biopic came to be in Philippine Cinema in 2015, and have no plans of stopping.

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On July 26, “TBA Studios” was officially launched at a grand gathering at Edsa Shangri-La Manila’s Marquee. Proudly displaying the initials of Tuko, Butchi Boy and Artikulo Uno across a gigantic screen on stage, Ortigas, Rocha, along with associate Vincent Nebrida, were prouder to look back at the landmark success of their first venture together, and more so, to look forward to bigger titles to come from TBA Studios.

TBA Studios as a brand is fairly new, but despite being rookies in the industry, the independent group has made a huge impact in the Philippine film industry for pushing the envelope towards high quality filmmaking. Besides Heneral Luna, they are also behind the MMFF Best Picture and Urian- and The Eddys-winning Best Documentary “Sunday Beauty Queen;” unconventional love story “I’m Drunk, I Love You” starring Paulo Avelino and Maja Salvador, and Iza Calzado’s “Bliss.”

“Despite our age, Nando and I are the oldest babies in the industry,” Rocha quipped in a special AVP. “But we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. They call us ‘game changers’, but really, we just want to make films that the Filipinos deserve.”

“We would like that everybody that goes to the movie theaters and sees the TBA branding would know that once they see it, they will enjoy the movie and come out happy with it,” Ortigas added.

True to their word, TBA Studios rolled out the upcoming commercial screening of their multi-awarded titles, as well as partnership deals to ensure they never waver in the quality of future projects.

The men of TBA Studios: EA Rocha (left) and Fernando Ortigas

One major announcement of the night is the group’s strategic partnership with giant telecommunications company Globe Telecoms, via Globe Studios, to co-produce several projects including “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.” This is the much-awaited follow-up to Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna, which will see Avelino reprise his role of Gregorio del Pilar from the 2015 epic.

Globe is also going to provide marketing support for “Birdshot,” TBA’s official entry to the forthcoming Pistang Pelikulang Pilipino, with the goal of reaching a wider audience come August 16.

Besides these, the other TBA titles that had their moment on stage with their respective cast members and directors were Carlo Obispo’s “1-2-3”, a gripping family drama, which premiered at 2016’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival; “Women of the Weeping River,” which took home top prizes in this year’s Gawad Urian Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Mindanaoan filmmaker Sheron Dayoc; and a chilling crime thriller, “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” directed by Raya Martin, based on the best selling novel of FH Batacan.

TBA Studios also confirmed that the film adaptation of the popular graphic novel “The Mythology Class” is already in development. Its creator Arnold Arre and director Tarog, who would helm the project, made the official announcement.

Meanwhile, besides producing quality films, the company also talked about its continued efforts in expanding its reach and scope by creating various distribution platforms to promote and enrich the local movie industry.

In 2016, they launched Cinetropa, a Filipino-movie streaming site created exclusively to give Filipino films more exposure on a global scale, and Cinema ’76, a micro-cinema dedicated solely to regularly playing independent films. With the success of Cinema ’76, Vincent Nebrida, TBA president and Cinema ’76 co-founder, announced that the popular micro-cinema would open a new and bigger branch very soon.

“Cinema ’76 will also continue to hold series of master classes and workshops to hone multi-faceted skills in filmmaking,” said Nebrida.

Indeed, there is so much to look forward to from TBA Studios in the months and years to come. For as short and simple as their name has become, they vow to go far and wide, and hurdle the complicated challenges of filmmaking in the country to fulfill a burning passion and promise.

“We want to produce movies that Filipinos will remember,” Ortigas ended.

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