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Filmart: Ambitious Philippine Crime Series ‘The Bagman’ Begins Production

One year after unveiling the ambitious project at Hong Kong’s Filmart project market, Philippine broadcaster-turned-content-producer ABS-CBN has started production on the crime thriller series The Bagman. The show began shooting in Manila on Feb. 25, according to the producers, and the project will be shopped to regional buyers at this year’s Filmart, which begins Monday.

The Bagman is a high-end TV spinoff of ABS-CBN’s popular streaming series Bagman, which ran for two seasons beginning in 2019 and was picked up by Netflix. Filipino actor Arjo Atayde (The General’s Daughter) is reprising his lead role as Benjo Malaya from the original show. John Arcilla (On the Job 2: The Missing 8, The Bourne Legacy) and Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo (Mindanao) also star.

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The spinoff is said to have a significantly bigger budget, with ambitions to reach an audience beyond the Philippines. ABS-CBN’s producing partners on the title include Dreamscape Entertainment, Nathan Studios and Rein Entertainment.

“As a pioneer and leader in globalizing Filipino content this show further strengthens our position in advocating for Filipino representation in today’s global marketplace,” said Ruel S. Bayani, ABS-CBN’s head of international productions. “With the phenomenal cast now complete, coupled with the recent start of production, we have no doubt The Bagman will be a hit among buyers and co-production companies in Hong Kong.”

The original Bagman told the story of Benjo Malaya, a neighborhood barber who lands a job as the governor’s henchman and gets caught up in a dangerous web of crime, corruption and political turmoil. The new series, running across eight one-hour episodes, returns to Malaya, where a former governor convicted of past crimes who has vowed to turn his back on the underworld. But when he learns tragic news about his family having gone missing, he is left with no choice but to return to the vicious criminal world to take on a new mission — this time as a fixer for the sitting president of the Philippines to stop an impending civil war.

Political corruption and power politics are never far away in the contemporary Philippines, a reality that ABS-CBN has experienced firsthand. The company was once the country’s leading broadcaster, but after its outlets criticized the policies of former strongman Rodrigo Duterte, its TV licenses went conspicuously unrenewed. The company has since pivoted as a quality film and TV content producer.

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