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Why Hawla Comes at the Right Time

There is a global trend in foreign action movies that highlight a specific martial art.

Ong-Bak and The Protector (Muay Thai); Ip Man (Wungshu); and The Raid: Redemption (Pencak Silat) enjoy a resurgence in streaming services like Netflix. Hawla intends to capitalize on the many indigenous martial arts in The Philippines.

The popularity of action movies in streaming networks like Netflix provide a longer shelf life and bigger returns for low-budget action films.

The Pedring Lopez-directed female-centric assassin film, Maria, about a woman who is being hunted by the crime cartel she used to work for, will start streaming on Netflix on May 17, 2019.

BuyBust, the first full-on action film co-written and directed by Erik Matti from The Philippines -- released in 2018 with a budget of US$1.6M and made on to make US$1.8M worldwide – is also on Netflix.

The Philippines has yet to be used as an exotic location for Fil-American producers.

In 2019, WGN America has recently acquired 10 episodes of Electric Entertainment’s drama series Almost Paradise, about a former US DEA agent who runs the gift shop in a luxury resort in a small tropical island in the Philippine Archipelago. Its Executive Producer is Dean Devlin.

The 2017 movie, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, was shot in the Caramoan Islands, while the ending of 2012’s The Bourne Legacy featured El Nido, Palawan. A Korean movie, Romantic Island, was shot in 2008 on Boracay island.

Kali Arnis has been used to enhance fight scenes in films, but not its main feature.

The 2015 Spy featured Melissa McCarthy, who was trained in Kali by Diana Lee Inosanto, daughter of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) legend Dan Inosanto.

Kali was used by Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in Furious 7; Denzel Washington, a student of Dan Inosanto, in the 2104 film The Equalizer; and, Liam Neeson for the 2014 Non-Stop, which was choreographed by Rafael Kayanan. Kali was also used by Daniel Craig in 2008’s Quantum of Solace; Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible III in 2006; and, Matt Damon in the Bourne series.

Hawla intends to be the first fully Kali-based action film.

With a unique location, fresh main protagonists, and the heavy use of legitimate FMA, we believe that Hawla is a venture worth getting into.

The Protector restaurant scene:

Old Boy hallway fight:

Daredevil hallway fight:

Atomic Blonde stairwell fight:

The Raid 2 bathroom fight:

Profitability of The Genre

Typically, action adventure movies – a lot of which are franchises -- are recognized to have the most potential for record-breaking ticket sales; however, they usually come with huge budgets, bringing down the Return on Investment (ROI). 

According to Consequence of Sound, at least for 2010-2015, the 10 most profitable films belonged to the horror genre, based solely on ROI, in this case, the ratio of the movie’s production budget vs. the money earned at the worldwide box office. This is the reason why horror movies are churned out every year – they may not even be scary; they may be hated by critics; and they could even be underwhelming – but they do bring in the profits.

According to IMDB, something like The Purge, for example, had a budget of US$3M but raked in US$91M. That movie was basically set in one home. The First Purge had a reported budget of US$13M and ended up making US$69.5M. Paranormal Activity 2 and 3, which had budgets of US$2M and US$5M, respectively, earned US$177M and US$202M, respectively.

Thus, a film that combines the action and horror genre together has the potential to bring in an excellent ROI.

Horror Survival Genre

The Horror Survival Genre, derived from computer games, focuses on the survival of a character that’s trapped in a frightening situation. Jordan Peele’s Get Out, for example, earned US$255.4M out of a US$4.5M budget.

A more notable peg for Hawla, however, is Indonesia’s The Raid, the

full-on action thriller film written, directed and edited by Gareth Evans. It was packaged as a horror survival movie, even if it featured the traditional Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat. Shot in only 1 building, the 2011 film had a US$1.1M budget and went on to gross US$9.1M worldwide as of 2012. The stars were almost unknown outside Indonesia. The film was 101 minutes.

This is the business model Hawla is going to follow.

Hawla may feature an ensemble cast, as well as dozens of extras, but it will be shot mostly in one location, a compound of luxury villas set on a pristine, white sand-fringed private island in The Philippines.

We are pegging Hawla’s budget at US$2.5M.

Hawla’s budget will go to the following:


Kurrent Multimedia Productions (KMP) recommends 5 months of pre-production, 4 months of which will be spent training the cast and extras to make the action sequences impeccable.

Those involved will have to be paid monthly for this period. We, too, will need a medical team, an ambulance, massage therapists, doctors on site, and insurance (if not group insurance).

We will need to factor in accommodations, airline tickets and allowances for cast and crew, who’ll need to fly in and out of The Philippines and the U.S.

Ensemble Cast:

Hawla is looking at 17 characters, an ensemble cast that supports 2 major characters, our 2 fighters, both of whom are Filipino-Americans based in the U.S. As of this writing, they will have to be flown to The Philippines for training and production.

Pre-production can be done in the U.S. as Hawla’s other potential lead, Bryan Sloyer, is a stuntman and has a team of choreographers, including himself, who can help map out complex fight sequences that feature Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). We still have to contact him though.

Fight Choreography:

FMA Fight Choreography will take up to 3 months to execute, master and train for. A long, complex fight scene in The Raid 2 already took 6 weeks to choreograph and pre-prod, plus another 10 days to shoot. 

Choreography will have to be executed in The Philippines. Each fight scene will be designed, storyboarded and work-shopped from beginning to end. In Atomic Blonde, they went for complex moves and long takes of up to 20 moves without cutting. If he’s on board, Bryan Sloyer and his group can do these things. It's the extras that would need training.

Storyboarding will help us do same-day edits of fight scenes during production.

Training Bootcamp:

We may need a bootcamp to send up to 60 stuntmen to be trained in various FMA skills.

Tony Jaa broke the bones of 38 men in just one scene in The Protector plus 4 more after. Iko Uwais in The Raid fought up to 18 people in one scene. John Wick killed 128 people in John Wick 2, 51 more than the 77 he killed in John Wick 1.

We may rotate stuntmen or increase their number to save on budget, though each one might have a close-up because of the intricacies of FMA. We may also source FMA clubs from The Philippines.

Training may take 4 months, similar to Wonder Woman and John Wick, whose choreographers were also Filipino, Jon Valera and John Eusebio. Keanu Reeves trained for 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. We must not scrimp on training.

There are 5 Tribes at the Hawla. Each fight in the cage will have 5 fighters, who'll fight to the death, using various weapons. Each tribe can specialize in its own FMA style. Last man standing moves on and ends up in the last match, where the winners of the matches fight to the death.

The Set:

Our set will be on an exotic island, so we will have to fly everyone there, both cast and crew, feed and house them nearby.

For the look, Cauayan Resort, El Nido (; Apulit Island Resort, El Nido; (; and, Ticao Island Resort, Bicol (, are pegs.

We can also do interior shots in a sound stage in Makati.

The point is that, as in real life, The Philippines is beautiful, but beneath it, there is the ugliness and darkness of abuse, corruption, and institutional violence.

Other Extras:

Hawla features a nightly gender-bending orgy of debauchery and decadence, where wealthy, powerful men and women submit to the senses of the flesh, pleasuring each other and themselves in varying amounts of partners, perversions, positions, and other P-words that are not quite fit to print, including ringside views of their enemies giving up lives for their own entertainment. It’s an intimate, exclusive, modern-day version of the Roman coliseum.

We will need what HBO called "special extras" or "special background players" for these -- extras who will sign explicit consent forms before shooting. Influences for such scenes are Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut; HBO’s Westworld, which featured 40 people; and, Tom Tykwer’s Perfume: A Story of A Murderer, which used 50 key players from the dance theater group La Fura dels Baus + 100 relatively experienced talents to form the core of the crowd. 

Hawla Estimated Budget

Initially, we are pegging Hawla’s budget at US$2.5M, broken down into percentages as follows:

Estimated Total Budget  2.5M 100%

Pre-Production: 15%

Production: 35%

Post Production 35%

Distribution & Marketing: 15%

A $4,000 Development Fund for the research and writing of the script, would be necessary to get the project off the ground.


A film is, of course, a risky endeavor, and can be a hit-or-miss thing. BuyBust, the first full-on action film co-written and directed by Erik Matti from The Philippines, was released in 2018 with a budget of US$1.6M and made on to make US$1.8M worldwide. The action sequences here may be numerous, but it offered nothing that the world hasn’t already seen. Philippine Action Flick Maria was also recently acquired by Netflix.

In 2019, Triple Threat, which featured action heroes like Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa, Tiger Chen Scott Adkins, and Michael Jai White, was panned largely for lack of plot and character development even if the action sequences garnered a lot of praise. Though its budget remains unreleased, and it may not have made that much, the film plays on Video on Demand and digital platforms, including Netflix worldwide. Action sequences, and famous action stars, don’t guarantee a film’s success.

The rewards, however, can be well worth the effort. The Raid 2, for example, which had a higher budget that its predecessor, US$4.5M, included a huge prison brawl, a car chase, a subway fight, and 100 days of production. It went on to gross US$6.6M worldwide, excluding Indonesia and Japan.

With a unique location, fresh main protagonists, and the heavy use of legitimate FMA, we believe that Hawla is a venture worth getting into.

Thank you for taking the time to go over this proposal. We are hoping to present this in more detail in your most convenient time.

We appreciate your feedback!

Creating is how we get in-sync with the Universe.

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