The first ‘indies’
Indies or independent (non-major studio-financed) movies are the rage and the local film scene’s “saving factor.” But it would do us good to realize that the indie film “fever” is not just of current or recent coinage.
In fact, most of the country’s first movie producers started out as makers of “indie” films. If you look at the list of Filipino production companies through the years, most of them folded up after only a film or three. Nepomuceno Productions, LVN, Sampaguita, Lebran and Premiere are the few exceptions to that desultory rule.
‘The Big Four’
After the most successful survivors formed “The Big Four” in the 1950s, however, local movie production became a mainstream studio affair, with the most popular companies making 20 or even 30 feature films each annually.
Around the ’60s, however, the country’s biggest movie stars experienced a belated mental and psychological epiphany: They realized that Filipino films were big hits at the box office, partly or even principally because they were starring in them.
If their stellar presence resulted in huge grosses at the tills, they wanted a bigger share of the action—and profits. So some of them eventually decided to produce their own movies, mostly starring themselves.