Stories from the Making of Our HBO Show
Our HBO show that you’ve heard about by now premieres tonight at 11 PM. You should definitely watch it. Don’t have HBO? Looks like it’s time to rekindle things with that shitty old boy/girlfriend who does. Make it happen. No excuses. Anyway, we are so incredibly thrilled about this and we have a feeling you are too. To get you even more excited, one of the show’s hosts, Ryan Duffy, put together this collection of stories from shooting two segments for the show in the Philippines—one about gun manufacturers and the other about a Jihadist youth camp. Enjoy!
There’s a moment on most shoots where you catch yourself going, “Wait, what the fuck am I doing?” This photo was taken right about that moment. You’re chasing the story, following it at every turn, consumed by getting access and meeting certain folks and all of that, and in the process you lose sight of where it’s bringing you. Then you look around and a parade of masked teenagers carrying automatic weapons is marching towards you in a hidden Islamic Jihadist camp in the most violent province in the Philippines.
The ease with which these guys made guns in this underground network of backyard sheds was alarming. It’s a family business, passed down from father to son, and requires little more than scrap metal, rudimentary equipment, and some know-how. The backyard variety of weaponry is typically sold on the black market, and a gun maker we met who wanted to be called JR, pictured above, told us some of their best customers are actually cops. Local officers sell their own officially issued weapons and pick up cheaper models, turning a profit for themselves and ensuring that the police will remain outgunned by the criminals.
There are essentially three tiers of gun manufacturers in the Philippines: At one end of the spectrum you have the local backyard gunsmiths, and on the other the massive assembly-line factories like one called Shooters. In the middle there’s a slew of mom n’ pop-style shops run by guys like Romeo Cortes, the owner of Safariland Arms, pictured above. Cortes has been manufacturing guns since he was a teenager, and maintains a family-run business to this day vying for legitimate government contracts while conducting business on the side with the less savory element of the gun-hungry public.