entertainment, Philippines, television

The Need for Freelance Actors

Upon the expiry of his exclusive GMA contract, Richard Gutierrez has announced he would go freelancing, hence work for any network or production outfit. To be honest, American television networks do not ink their established stars to exclusive contracts, thus allowing them freedom to work from network to network, production company to production company. Regal Films of Lily Monteverde has little or no restrictions on casting actors and actresses; every Regal production has featured a combination of Kapuso, Kapamilya and Kapatid stars in recent years. Which brings me to the topic of freelancing in television and film.

For the past 20 years, there are two main breeding grounds for future showbiz personalities: GMA’s Artist Center, and ABS-CBN’s Star Magic. Under the stewardship of Wilma Galvante and Johnny Manahan respectively, both networks scout potential talents, and then train them for either hosting or acting roles. These future talents would be introduced gradually in bit roles, and then with further training, give them more prominent roles on a television series or film.  In recent years, reality series such as ‘Starstruck’ and ‘Pinoy Big Brother‘ provided training ground for contestants to hone their dramatic skills on camera. Since the acquisition of TV5 by Manny Pangilinan, they formed their own Talent Center, in an attempt to become competitive with the two main networks.

However, the establishment of the three artist centers proved to be a hindrance to the Filipino broadcast industry, because of the signing of exclusive network contracts. Which means that an actress like Marian Rivera cannot work for either a Star Cinema-produced film or an ABS-CBN television series, and an actor like Piolo Pascual cannot join the cast for either a GMA television series or a GMA Films production. Same goes to the Kapatid personalities of the TV5 Talent Center, they cannot work for another network other than their home network. The only way Kapamilya, Kapatid and Kapuso artists would be cast together is through a Regal Films production, which is not covered by both network’s exclusivity.

I seriously think that it is best for the three major networks to have their artists cross over to the other, and vice versa. Richard Gutierrez is a prime example of that. By giving the artists leeway for appearing on a television series or film, it would help them find ways for utilizing some underused talents, tinker with new on-screen combinations, and make casting easier. This should also benefit real-life couples such as Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo, who may cross over to networks other than their own.

Even with Gutierrez’s announcement, the freelance actor will remain a rarity on either television or film, unless all three networks give their artists a chance to cross over to the other.