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From Station and Stopover

SBSG Pictures in Pursuit of Genuine Queer Representation

By George Ryan TabadaPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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Photo by: SBSG Pictures

Trains board many passengers, like a melting pot of different consciousness– workers, students, and dreams that are left unsaid trailing the railways between rush and heavy breathes.

To PUPian friends Joshua de Vera and Rafaela Abucejo, together with their circle of creatives, the night they missed the train was a redirection for an enduring aspiration since 2020, which they were so keen to create until they had the chance to– leading to their first short film ‘please, remember this night’.

A story about two strangers who failed to catch the train and as they decided to walk home together, a bond grew between them. They conceptualized the film from the same night the train had slipped away. Fueled by own experiences, it is SBSG Pictures’ beginning of a journey towards stations and stopovers; as if a trope waiting to be narrativized in pursuit of genuine queer representation.

SBSG Pictures as a Queer Production Team

As a queer production team, the studio's main objective is to give a genuine queer representation in film, with the queer people themselves being the storytellers of the said films. In a world teeming with queer creatives, the team believes that providing platforms for genuine and honest queer storytelling is not just a choice but a responsibility.

For the past years, different queer films have been produced by different local productions, and SBSG Pictures were beyond grateful for that, but they also believe that there is a certain gap in the industry, which is lack of authenticity in these films. To be specific, there were films that were just being sensationalized and more focused on the profit it can get. Therefore, the studio pushes a queer-centered creatives in order to offer a more authentic and genuine queer representation.

However, SBSG emphasizes that authenticity is not confined to casting exclusively queer actors, but rather it remains as a preference. What matters was on how the actors understand and portray their characters. As they have said, it is an 'emotional journey' for the creators and the actors. Additionally, the key figures of the films they are producing were the creatives themselves, which were queer, that is why bringing authenticity to their audience is both a breeze and a challenge for them.

Furthermore, the team implies that their focus for authenticity and genuine queer representation does not mean exclusion from other people that are not a part of the community. While striving to dominate the queer film scene, SBSG Pictures rejected the notion of isolating the queer film industry. The studio exclaims that they are always ready to embrace diversity and welcome everyone, ensuring that SBSG Pictures remains as an open and inclusive space.

‘Please, remember this night’ made its debut at the Metro Manila Pride. This propelled the film to international screenings in Brazil and Nigeria that captivated audiences worldwide. SBSG Pictures then took their stories to local audiences, gracing exhibits for institutions like UP Manila, PUP, and the esteemed Yearnfest last year at Cubao, Quezon City.

Yearnfest, a film night event dedicated to celebrating queer love and loss on screen, provided SBSG Pictures with a platform to showcase short films for queers and by queer people. Four queer shorts embraced the big screen for a non-stop yearning experience featuring ‘Please Remember This Night’, ‘Hold Me Tighter Than Before’, ‘The World We Left’, and ‘We Were Never Really Strangers’. The overwhelming response from the audience resulted in full house screenings which undeniably resonated the power of SBSG’s storytelling and commitment to amplifying queer stories.

As SBSG Pictures continues to carve its niche in the industry, their journey is not just marked by the success of their films but by an indomitable spirit to challenge societal norms. On the set of their latest project, ‘Saan Ako Pinaglihi?’, a young observer remarked, "Posible pala ‘yon? Babaeng Direktor." This statement revealed a dark reminder of the existing gender disparity in the industry and SBSG Pictures stands as a testament to breaking these stereotypes– showcasing that women are equally adept at leading and shaping narratives.

What’s Next for SBSG?

The team is in the process of finalizing their sapphic film ‘Saan Ako Pinaglihi?’ directed by Rafaela Abucejo and a production composed dominantly by queer women. And guess what? The film, which is to be released this March, is also shortlisted in Puregold CinePanalo Film Festival in Student Short Film Category.

SBSG does not see the last station of the trip just yet, nor will they get off the train coming to the next station. For the goals that they have achieved, SBSG promises to carry on with every opportunity that will come– in the name of a production team by queers, for queers.

Just like a train in motion, the team is proactive in distribution, citing that they are making films for people to watch and see, and not just get stuck sitting somewhere in the corner. For them, the persisting call is clear: more safe spaces for queers in the film industry.

“Before we take care of our stories, before we take care of equipment, please, first of all, take care of our people.”

SBSG is a young creative team, and so is the night for them to miss the train ride. If they are going somewhere, it’s not anywhere, it’s to the same place they were left by– for this time around, the train awaits them, and they have stations to pass by to tell stories to.

Written by: Ervic Estrabo, Robert Tamayo Jr., and George Ryan Tabada

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About the Creator

George Ryan Tabada

George Ryan Tabada is a fourth-year journalism student at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

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