The island film school behind a barbeque shack
Behind an anonymous barbecue shack-Internet café on Bantayan Island in Cebu, there is a film school.
Enclosed by a circle of trees and walls made of bamboo slats, it looks nothing like the sprawling campus of the big-time film school on neighboring Mactan Island. In fact, it looks nothing like a film school at all.
But it is. Because every afternoon for almost two years now, after cleaning and barbecuing chicken, Cloyd Ribo gathers his small class of eight teenagers and, armed with a 512 MB processor and YouTube tutorial videos, he teaches them as much as he can about the art that he loves.
The school started simply enough: with a thirst for knowledge that Ribo was more than willing to quench. As Ribo put it, “Gusto nilang matuto. May kaunti akong alam sa pag-edit, so pinagamit ko lang sa kanila ang computer ko at sinagot ko ang mga tanong nila.”
There have been difficulties, of course. Aside from the lack of equipment, Ribo admitted that he also lacks filmmaking experience, and most of all, time.
“Kulang din ang aking karanasan sa filmmaking. At oras, ‘di ko masyadong mabigyan ng oras dahil kailangan ko din na maghanapbuhay para sa amin ng kapatid ko,” he explained.
Ribo’s family used to own Republic, the only movie theater on the island, which is perhaps where his interest in the medium grew. The cinema ran for a golden 50 years, until a fire in 2002 razed the whole thing to the ground, reducing everything to ashes except Ribo’s love for film.
Several years after the fire, Ribo was hired as a video editor at a cable company in Madridejos town where he lives. From there, he started to learn more about the craft of filmmaking.
“Editing ang una kung natutunan. Ina-apply ko lang ang mga nalalaman ko sa audio at theater sa video using Windows Movie Maker dati,” he shared.
Ribo explained, “Wala pong nagtuturo sa akin how to make films. Curiosity lang siguro, kaya nag re-research ako. Mahilig po kasi ako sa movies. Kaya naisipan ko kung paano kaya, kung ako ang gagawa?"
His ultimate dream is to remake Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” in his native dialect, Lawisanon—an ambitious undertaking to say the least, but something he’s determined to do.
“Meron na akong script and initial storyboard, pero marami pa ang materials and knowledge na kailangan ko. Aral muna, research muna, isip muna,” he said.
In the middle of his routine of chicken barbecue-mornings and film-school afternoons, Ribo still found time to help out with the production of Dutch-Filipino filmmaker Martha Atienza’s “Gilubong ang Akong Pusod sa Dagat.”
Helping out with the film turned out to be kismet, because it was during the film’s exhibition in Madridejos that Ribo met Clara Balaguer, president and founder of The Office of Culture and Design (TOCD), an organization that supports socially relevant cultural and art initiatives.
“I got introduced to Cloyd. We had a long conversation, and I was so inspired by his crazy dream and his unwavering faith. So I said, all right, I'll help him out. This is exactly the kind of project we're looking for, with exactly the kind of spirit we stand for,” Balaguer shared.
And just like that, The Cloyd Project was born.
Reaching for the dream
According to Balaguer, the project “is basically helping a guy from a small town, where nothing ever changes and the fishermen can barely find anything to fish, to achieve his lifelong dream and inspire other people in the process.”
Through the project, TOCD put Ribo on their payroll for five months so he can spend less time making chicken barbecue and more time setting up his film school/production company, which he and his students have named the School of the Presidents.
Aside from that, TOCD is sourcing new equipment for Ribo, who has so far received a new camera, a secondhand computer, headphones, a couple of projectors, a tripod and a hard drive.
“We're working on giving him the basic tools he needs to start experimenting, and hopefully will be able to upgrade to better quality hardware as we get more funding,” Balaguer said.
Through The Cloyd Project, TOCD is also bringing Filipino and Spanish filmmakers to Bantayan to hold an eight-month workshop to equip Ribo and his students with the basic skills to complete a full-length project. Once Ribo completes the workshops, they’re even giving him the money to fund his Kurosawa tribute.
Balaguer said that the workshop cycle has already begun, and the filmmakers they’ve invited will be coming in starting July. Which is to say that The Cloyd Project is well underway, and Ribo is that much closer to his Kurosawa remake.
But, according to Balaguer, The Cloyd Project is “not just about helping him film his own version of Rashomon.”
“When I met him, Cloyd was unknowingly running a small-scale film center from his ex-chicken barbecue stand. He'd give weekly lessons to his eight teenagers from town on his really, really low-tech PC computer,” she explained.
“He was doing it to give the kids from his town something different to do aside from nothing, or alcohol, or drugs. Out of the goodness of his own heart and out of his own pocket. That to me was truly inspiring, and through TOCD, I thought we could really help him continue to make a difference for his town, for these kids,” she said. –KG/HS, GMA News