One of my courageous friends, Producer Bill Snider, is developing a feature film that will be produced next year in Hong Kong and the Philippines. The story is about the devastating social consequences faced by Filipino families, when they choose to leave the country for jobs with the hope of providing for their families back home.
About five years ago, I conducted a screenwriting class in Manila and we polled both professional and amateur writers on what would be the most significant subject to tackle for a feature film in their country. The class unanimously agreed that the greatest Filipino story would come from Bill’s very topic and had the potential to culturally impact the perspective of millions.
It takes tremendous effort to tackle such a project, but that isn’t where Bill’s courage ends. He’s also developing the project within the parameters of the current culture and doing it in the Tagalog language. Not to mention doing it as he overcomes the after effects of Typhoon Haiyan.
While some might think Bill has taken on more than he can handle, the film is actually in good hands. Bill is celebrating his 25th anniversary with AP Media in Manila. He fell in love with the people and culture years ago and is passionate about making sure Filipino stories are developed by nationals.
In fact, he brought my friend Alex Lyons to the Asia Pacific region this year to conduct training seminars in various cities. Not only has Alex taught some of the latest cutting edge techniques to the nationals, but also he has personally gleaned knowledge from the professionals in each country. I’m confident it will be a year of travel Alex will never forget. Then again, he might decide to follow in Bill’s footsteps and hang out in Manila for the next 25 years.
In preparing the story, Bill’s team conducted personal interviews with several people that lived out the controversial decision to support their family through jobs obtained overseas. The writer tried to capture the essence of the good and bad consequences each out-of-country worker faced.
Since Bill is not one to offend, the story will reveal the ramifications of the decisions, without casting a judgment on those who have chosen that path. However, he will present another viewpoint that will help nationals understand they don’t have to follow society’s trends, but can instead do what is best for their own family.
After reading the translated script, I can’t help but wonder if there is yet another angle that might be worth considering, which doesn’t suggest good or bad decisions. Instead, it would reflect a choice between our personal love languages and how we are able to receive that love.
Years ago I read Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages,” which suggested we all interpret love in one of five main ways: acts of service; gift giving; quality time; words of affirmation; and, physical touch. While we all require some level of all five to be present for a healthy life, we tend to lean toward one as representing the core essence of love. Of course, knowing your partner’s key love language helps to know how to demonstrate love to him or her.
When a family member leaves to work overseas, it seems to stem from the concept of gift giving – providing financially. If the rest of the family holds to the same love standards, the travel is more likely to improve the family’s bond. But, if quality time is one family member’s core love language, then he or she will be devastated by the parent who leaves.
This concept suggests that working overseas would only be a benefit for those families where all of its members hold gift giving to be the core element in demonstrating love. Since the odds of that being true are low, the choice to work overseas and send money home to the family will always create a painful scenario.
So, what would happen if the mom first sought an overseas job with the intension to express her love by sending funds back home, but eventually realized that her kids understand the demonstration of love to be quality time, which she is no longer around to give? The main character would struggle to undo all of her choices in order for her family to see her as loving, after viewing her from the perspective of abandonment.
I believe those elements would make for a great drama. The protagonist would have to understand her own and her kids’ love language in order to give love to her kids in a way that they can receive it by the end of the movie – Making for a happy ending.
It will be fun to see how Bill’s creative team finalizes the script. After all, entertainment is the best way to alter culture and having been saturated in the culture for 25 years, I’m confident Bill shall make the best story decisions that will impact future generations of Filipinos.