The status quo of Philippine entertainment, in terms of choosing shooting locations, can be summed up in six words: We’ll take what we can get. Unlike Thailand and Singapore, whose entertainment industries see controlled environments as nothing new, the Philippines was a nation that, for a long while, still resorted to retrofitted warehouses. There was a lack of environment control and a lack of comfort. Perhaps the lack of a world-class studio said more about our own creative economy and how hesitant it tends to be in terms of funding significant creative projects.
Award-winning director Jun L. Reyes, the founder and CEO of Indie.Go Media (indiegomedia.asia), feared that the dream to create an iconic space would only be met with pushback. But his new Shooting Gallery Studios (3317 Zapote Street, Makati; 403-7087; shootingallerystudios.com), a massive cubist structure well on its way to symbolizing what the Philippine entertainment industry could be, now stands tall. The 4,000 square meter, two-studio complex boasts 30-feet worth of ceiling height in each of its studios, which also doubles as an events venue. The purpose of the interior’s sweeping size, according to Reyes, who built the imposing building on the former site of his family’s metal and tire factory, is not just for filming large sets, but for encouraging creativity. “We made sure the entrances to the studio are high because it automatically gives you a feeling of breathing space,” he says. “It’s meant to be an oasis.” By virtue of its size, the studio immediately eliminates what problems would be inherent in filming inside a retrofitted warehouse: the stress of a tightly-packed room, a non-malleable space, an environment that only increases pressure.
In terms of designing the exterior, Reyes collaborated with architect Joseph Tan to ensure its timelessness. “As far as the design is concerned, it should be an iconic landmark,” says Reyes. “The design has to be classic enough to withstand time.” For Tan, this sensibility can be achieved through emphasis on functionality, which was done through the creative decision of adopting basic geometric forms of other foreign studios. The look of the final product, in Tan’s words, was “concluded with a cube shape impression.” This form, aside from granting Shooting Gallery a towering, monolithic feel, also gave way to effective fragmentation. The layout of the space is neatly organized, with each facility made easily reachable through efficiently planned walkways. The job of designer Dan Matutina, of Plus 63 Design Co., was to make a potentially intimidating space more accessible, to both the amateur entertainer and the industry veteran. This is apparent in the logo of the studio: the yellow silhouette of a rubber duck with a red target branded on its side, reminiscent of old-fashioned booth games in amusement parks. The logo, present in the gallery’s wayfinding system, signages and all, serves to remind those who walk down the halls that this studio, ultimately, sees the importance of playfulness. “We already knew that the structure was going to be very monolithic, very masculine in terms of look. So when we were designing the brand identity, we had to soften it a bit,” says Matutina. “The place becomes very approachable, very non-intimidating.”
Today, the studio is regularly fully booked. Foreign film outfits recognize it as the only Philippine shooting location of its caliber. Project Runway was shot in the studio for a month. Parts of Felix Manalo and Bonifacio were filmed within its complex. The studio doubles as monumental institution—a structure that both symbolizes and directly participates in innovation.
This article first appeared in Rogue’s 2015 Cinema Issue, now available on newsstands and digitally on Zinio.com/Rogue. Get immediate access every month to intelligent storytelling, world-class photography, and in-depth profiles on the country’s influencers for $1 less per issue by subscribing now to Rogue Magazine for iPad, now available on Apple’s App Store.