Hayop Ka - Avid Liongoren Interview

Interview: Director Avid Liongoren on Making ‘Hayop Ka!’ — the Country’s First Filipino Adult Animation

'Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story' is now streaming on Netflix! We chat with Avid Liongoren about his first adult-animation film.

Did you work with Manny Angeles deciding on the animation style for the film? Did the script come first, or did you have a visual already? Like the character design and what their world would look like?

Avid Liongoren: It was our Art Director Jether Amar who came up with the look. So what we did was we took an episode of Papa Jack’s love stories and we tested; we put cute little cats on it. Very Sanrio yung original na approach. But then, it was too cute, then we upgraded the look to what it is now. We had about a year before we started production, it was a year worth of just trying out different ways to do the film.

Very first version of Hayop Ka! characters
[Courtesy of Avid Liongoren / Rocketsheep Studios]

Can you talk about casting? How different was it casting actors for an animation versus a live-action movie?

For casting kasi we partnered up with Spring Films, since sila yung mas maraming kilala sa mga artista, and it was very simple. We already have archetypes for the voice. So for Nimfa we needed someone na tunog malandi pero palaban, so sir Erickson [Raymundo of Spring Films] said, “eh di si Angelica?” Tsaka bilog din mukha niya, kamukha niya si Nimfa. So it was very easy.

Nimfa Dimaano (voiced by Angelica Panganiban) at the department store selling perfume

Hayop Ka - directed by Avid Liongoren
Nimfa Dimaano at the department store selling perfume

May mga tropes lang kami. Like for example, the next one is, kailangan mo ng boses mayaman na Inglesero — Sam Milby. Kailangan natin ng boses ng machismo na machong-macho — Robin. Tapos kailangan natin ng boses na mabait na sweet. So si Empoy. Ganon lang siya, it wasn’t some complicated process. It was just Spring Films giving their suggestions and most of it I was just agreeing that okay, that works well. And it was their network of people that they brought in.


Did the pandemic have an impact on your work on the film or did you finish it before the lockdown?

We were working through the lockdown and swerte kami na we were able to disassemble the studio. Nakakadama na kami na medyo magugunaw na ang mundo, so, iuwi niyo na ang mga computer tapos ayusin natin mga internet connection niyo. Then we all worked remotely. It was very challenging. I’m used to looking over someone’s work and telling them what to do. Ngayon we had to write down everything and be more concise sa communication. But yeah, we’re lucky animation can strive during the pandemic.

Animanila’s Petmaluneta Park
[Image from Rocketsheep Studio]

The movie is peppered with a lot of puns. Was that intentional? And how did you brainstorm about it?

Yan yung mga kabalastugan na ‘yan ng mga artist namin. It’s their joy to put silly things and their fandom. Our artists, may mga K-pop fans, may mga Jojo, mga anime fans, then they pepper it with what they want, yung mga easter eggs nila. But we had a master list of stupid animal puns like ‘Arowana Grande’ mga ganun [laughs]. We just had a list and they gave it all to the artists. Kung ano diyan ang maisip niyo and kung may maidadagdag kayo diyan sa mga kabalastugan na yan, great! Since these things take so long to make, pang-aliw na rin ‘yan ng mga gunmagawa. So it’s really great that our film’s in Netflix that you could actually pause, para yung effort namin kahit papaano makikita naman. Kasi usually ang isang background painting takes about two weeks to make, tapos it’s on screen for three seconds. So it’s nice that it’s pausable.

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