In a Metro Manila inhabited solely by talking humanoid animals (but also where cows, pigs, and chickens are still very much on the pares house menu) Hayop Ka!’s protagonist, Nimfa Dimaano falls for two men, er, dogs. Tossed between her rugged askal boyfriend Roger, and a suave high rolling Iñigo Villanueva, Nimfa’s story, though presented through animation, isn’t a soft family Hallmark film. The sleazy voiceover in the trailer saying, “zerious drama, zexy romance, and intriguing intrigue,” promises just as much.
Initial studies of Nimfa Dimaano | Image source: Rocketsheep Studio
The idea for Hayop Ka! germinated when Rocketsheep Studio’s Avid Liongoren and Jether Amar were stuck in traffic and in their boredom decided to listen to a noontime radio show. “By the time the ubiquitous line “Hayop ka!” was uttered, we thought “eh kung mga hayop nga kaya talaga sila?” says Liongoren, who is Hayop Ka!’s director and producer. They created an animation sequence and dubbed it with audio ripped from a radio drama. “It was such a nice fit that we decided we could do it as a film,” he adds.
Initial animation from Hayop Ka! proof of concept | Image source: Rocketsheep Studio
When their initial pitch to a local film festival grant was turned down, Rocketsheep Studio decided to fund the project themselves, using the money garnered from the sales of the studio’s previous production, Saving Sally.
“[It was] very important [to fund it ourselves],” says Liongoren. “Since making a local animated film is rarely done (only 10 animated features in the entire 100 year history of Philippine Cinema), there is no tried & tested formula or workflow. We self-financed the bulk of the project so our main focus was doing it well. Accepting a huge sum of money from another entity meant we would need to follow their demands for delivery,” he adds.
Petmaluneta Park | Image source: Rocketsheep Studio
No internal organs had to be sold to keep fueling this independent animation endeavor after Spring Films agreed to distribute Rocketsheep Studio’s production.
The trailer sparked some controversy during its initial release due to Robin Padilla’s involvement as a voice actor for the film. Having worked with these actors in the past, it was easy for Spring Films to bring them on board for the project. In light of this, the team behind Hayop Ka! asks that viewers give the production a chance, especially since it took the small team three years to produce and create.
Hayop Ka! was made possible by Rocketsheep’s core group of five multi-tasking artists (and their two dogs). Alongside the core team were a handful of freelancers who weaved in and out during the production run. And though the process wasn’t a walk in the (Petmaluneta) park, the creators managed to give the story the kulit factor common and very much welcome in Pinoy humor. That, and a sprinkling of Jojo’ Bizarre Adventure and Twice easter eggs.
Spot Jojo and Twice easter eggs in some of the scenes from Hayop Ka! Image source: Rocketsheep Studio
Nimfa Dimaano’s world and story are determined to make you laugh—no pun is spared in its backdrops, from Anghell’s Kitchen to Krush na Tigas. If you live in Metro Manila, there are several sights that are immediately familiar: department store backdrops and the sea of red lights illuminating EDSA, the MOA globe whose countries are made up of paw prints of their respective national animals, and the busy thoroughfare within Quiapo. It isn’t shy in its use of innuendos either, especially since Inigo’s seduction style was partly patterned after 50 Shades character Christian Gray. “Minus the whips,” adds Liongoren.
From Nimfa’s nosebleed after Iñigo goes full spokening dollar, to Roger screaming, “TIKMAN MO ANG ‘SANG DAANG PORSYENTO”, the trailer is packed with Filipino in-jokes, colorful characters, and incredible art.
And while the appeal is very rooted in Filipino culture, Hayop Ka’s creators are excited for it to premiere on Netflix globally.
“I initially thought making a film was 100% of the work & everything after comes easy because making the film is so insanely hard already, but it turns out getting people to watch your film is even harder than making the film itself,” says Liongoren. “So having Hayop Ka! easily & widely available to people on Netflix means I can just sit back & microwave some popcorn.”
With Hayop Ka!, Philippine animation has its foot in the global streaming door. Will this open up more opportunities for the industry and its creators in the future? We’ll have to wait and see.
Watch the full trailer below:
Catch the full film when Hayop Ka! premieres on Netflix PH on Oct. 29.
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