Blockbuster director Mikhail Red teams up with Viva Films and launches EVOLVE STUDIOS
In the 2022 Metro Manila Film Festival, Viva Films’ horror movie entry Deleter emerged as the runaway box-office favorite, grossing the highest and cementing its place in MMFF history as the most awarded festival film. More importantly, Deleter went on to become the HIGHEST GROSSING FILIPINO HORROR FILM OF ALL TIME. All these accolades for just one movie was a fitting introduction to the general public—at least to those seeing his work for the first time—of this generation’s definitive brave new voice in Philippine cinema: director MIKHAIL RED.
In truth, Mikhail is hardly a new voice in Pinoy cinema. His first feature film, Rekorder, which had its international premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival, won several international awards including the Best Director prize at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival. His second film, Birdshot, won the Doha Film Institute Grant and CJ Entertainment Award at Busan during its development. Birdshot went on to win at the Tokyo International Film Festival and was later selected as the Philippine entry to the Academy Awards. It was also the first Filipino film to be internationally distributed on Netflix. Three of his other films—Eerie, Dead Kids, Arisaka—were also acquired by Netflix, with Dead Kids being the first Filipino Original on the global platform. Viva, recognizing the genius of the young director, moved to form a more dynamic partnership with Mikhail beyond the success of Deleter, and thus EVOLVE STUDIOS was born.
“Viva knows great talent when it sees one and with our partnership with direk Mikhail Red, we hope to future-proof our content offerings across genres and over different platforms,” says Valerie Del Rosario, Senior Vice President for Content Creation and Development for Viva Communications, Inc. Direk Mikhail sees this as the best platform to continue creating the cinema that he loves, with the proper resources to help craft them.
“We really connected with our vision in creating Genre films for a wide audience. After the success of Deleter we saw the potential of a strong partnership to continuously create quality genre films to reach the new growing audience whose viewing habits have changed due to globalization and rise of international streaming platforms. Viva believed and trusted my vision and voice,” says direk Mikhail. Evolve will see Direk Mikhail unlocking his creative potential.
“We will tackle Filipino stories with exciting plots and imaginative ideas. We will take wild swings, aim for spectacle and fresh concepts, yet ground them in sustainable and feasible production. Our films aim to be accessible and exciting to the everyday Filipino audience and will have the craft, production value, and sensibilites for international export as well. We plan to distribute theatrically across the region or partner with the growing influx of international streamers that are looking for strong genre titles in our region,” says Direk Mikhail.
Evolve’s initial titles for 2023 will be the following: Nokturno—a film about a primal and supernatural curse that haunts a rural Filipino family and the daughter who left them to live overseas. Starring Nadine Lustre. Helel—a sci-fi spiritual horror film set in the near future about a Filipina astronaut who encounters the devil. (Cast to be confirmed) What is Direk Mikhail’s grand vision for Evolve Studios? “We want audiences to associate our Studio with quality genre films that strive to both entertain and engage. We want to foster genre talent and collaborate with new and established artists and voices, to reinvigorate the industry and help diversify film output for the average Filipino audience.
“We want to eventually go global with our brand, creating Filipino genre work that we can proudly share with international audiences through partnerships and co-productions with big streamers and satisy their growing demand for foreign language content. We also want to make sure our film slate is sustainable, being strategic and efficient with our productions so that every success creates a chain reaction to finance more films. “We want to build a lasting legacy and contribute to the heritage of Filipino Cinema by creating work that is not just sustainable but also memorable to the Filipino audience.”