‘Andong Agimat’ to the US film mart
By Bayani San Diego Jr. / Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines -- Unitel head Tony Gloria has a new baby.

“This is my pet project,” he says of “Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat,” a popular graphic novel by prize-winning author/illustrator Arnold Arre.

Gloria has acquired the rights to “Andong,” which he plans to produce into either a feature film or a TV series. Or both.

“It can start as a feature film and we can later turn it into a TV series,” he says.

For the role of Andong, Gloria is eyeing Robin Padilla.

“He’s not your typical hero. Andong’s a loner and an ex-convict,” he explains.

Unitel is preparing an audio-visual presentation on “Andong,” which Gloria will screen at the American Film Market, running from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 in Santa Monica, California.

It’s Unitel’s fourth time in the US film mart. “We scanned and colorized the storyboards. We edited and set the footage to music. We also gave it a 3-D title,” he says.

He hopes to attract investors—to finance or to co-produce—with the “Andong” teaser.

Gloria admits that producing “Andong” is expensive.

“You can’t do it with P20 million. If I had P50 million that would be ideal. But I can make it with P30 million to P35 million,” he says.

Feedback from the film mart will decide whether “Andong” will be a film or a TV series.

Gloria is bullish about its prospects abroad. “It’s different. Very Asian.”

Which was what attracted Gloria to the graphic novel.

“I wanted an original Pinoy hero.”

It also combines the mythical with the historical, he says. “In the story, Maria Makiling is in love with a Katipunero (revolutionary). I am thinking of shooting
in Old Manila — Quiapo, Binondo and Intramuros.”

Gloria plans to use Unitel’s latest Sony HR 444 high-definition camera in shooting “Andong.” “It has the highest resolution. HD cameras were used in Hollywood movies like ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Zodiac.’”

He envisions “Andong” as a “showcase” of the capabilities of Unitel’s post-production arm, Optima.

“Optima has the latest computer software for an effects-laden film like ‘Andong,’” he says.

Unitel is also bringing to the film mart its finished films—Ato Bautista’s “Blackout” and Pablo Biglang-Awa and Veronica Velasco’s “Inang Yaya.” Also, three other indie movies—Sockie Fernandez’s “Gulong,” Jay Abello’s “Ligaw Liham” and Neal “Buboy” Tan’s “Ataul for Rent.”