Do you think working on Hayop Ka independently played a big factor in setting the creative tone of the film (that it’s for mature audiences)? Do you feel there was more freedom with the adult humor content since this was an independent film?
Avid Liongoren: Being a small self-financed project certainly meant we could take the risk and focus on the film we wanted to make as opposed to worrying about how to make investors happy and pleasing a wide audience. Working on a single film for over 3 years is unheard of here in our country and it would have been very hard to get money people to agree to that. We were also very lucky to have Spring Films as a partner who is very filmmaker-friendly and understood that we needed time to make the film.
Direk, any words of advice for aspiring animators like you?
Unang-una, learn all about the boring stuff in life. If you’re an animator, you’d most likely be freelance. So first thing you need to know is everything about taxes. [laughs] Boring stuff. So mag sign-up ka sa SSS, mag Philhealth ka. These are the things that once you start working, yan yung parating nago-gloss over. And you should know your rights as a worker. Animators are very passion driven, and most likely you don’t even know how to negotiate how much you’re going to get paid. Kasi nga you’re just excited to do the work. Maring evil na mga kumpanya who knows how to take advantage of that. So the sooner you learn about your rights as a worker, kasi worker ka eh. So lahat naman ‘yan online, you could read about it sa Department of Labor. The better you are equipped into entering the business. I’m sure every animator is passionate. They have the art side done. But very few animators know about their rights as a worker.
We have a lot of amazing Filipinos in the animation industry, but most are credited (if they are credited) for their work for foreign productions. What do you feel would be factors that will convince Filipino animators to create original Filipino animation the way you yourself did?
Any Pinoy animator would love to work on a local production. It’s the producers and studios who need to be convinced to pursue original local animated projects. And they will be interested once they figure out how to profit out of this. But they can’t figure it out if they don’t try making things in the first place. We (Rocketsheep) also don’t know how to make money out of making animated films – yet. Everyone involved gets paid, we break even, and we have no debt so that’s good enough for us, but not something a huge studio would be interested in as they have huge operation costs. For us, it’s enough that we keep the lights on and we get to keep trying. And I hope other like-minded studios try too, so that we all figure out how to make this a sustainable industry.
Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story is now streaming on Netflix.
[Homestream image from Rocketsheep Studio]