Avid Liongoren discusses Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story’s inspiration

Published November 20, 2020, 12:00 PM

by Rica Arevalo

Torn between two lovers

LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW Nimfa dreams of living a lavish lifestyle

Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story (You Animal) premiered on Netflix last month.  The one-hour-13-minute animated film directed by Avid Liongoren is quite a feat for Rocketsheep Studio and distributor Spring Films.

“I wouldn’t say ‘successful’ as that would imply that we sleep on mattresses made of money and ride golden unicorns,” says the 40-year-old music TV director. “But Rocketsheep as a studio is small enough to take risks. We are lucky enough to produce our work and make enough to keep the lights on and try again.”

The sultry kitty Nimfa (Angelica Panganiban) is torn between her long-time boyfriend mongrel Roger (Robin Padilla), a low-income janitor, and the highly successful Iñigo (Sam Milby), a rich well-bred dog.

“For Nimfa, we needed someone who could sound very giddy and flirty but could quickly shift to tough fight mode which Angelica could do with her eyes closed,” reveals this University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts graduate. 

CAT-ASTROPHIC The flirty Nimfa voiced by Angelica Panginiban

“With Roger the macho mongrel, we wanted a voice that sounded like 125 percent machismo, so Robin was an easy fit,” he added. “Sam sounds classy and smooth so he was a natural Iñigo the bourgeois business dog.”

A lot of Filipino associations are seen in the film, such as Mall of Aso (after Mall of Asia) and Pares Anghell’s Kitchen whose buy one take one meal promo is included in the film.

“There is now an awareness that the Philippines has a lot of awesome animators and the potential to create more local animations,” says Avid, 2017 Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award winner.

ANIMAL LOVE Director Avid Liongoren

Avid is relieved that this hilarious animation for adults is out. “It took over three years to complete this and, while working, we often wondered if we will ever finish it and we did!” he beamed. “There was no one we could consult with locally on how to make an animated film as so few had been made (only 10 in the past 100 years),” he laments.  Trial and error inspired him to continue doing this project.

‘Rocketsheep as a studio is small enough to take risks. We are lucky enough to produce our work and make enough to keep the lights on and try again. ‘

The most rewarding for Avid is seeing their Hayop Ka! art inspire other artists to make their own memes. “I’m happy if the people who watch it are entertained,” says the Saving Sally director.

In the film, Roger brings Nimfa for their anniversary date at a Pares joint—unaware that a love triangle is coming.  While eating, Roger observes, “Kapag ikaw dyan may ka-chat na ibang lalake, para kang ikaw tong tumatawag sa radyo, ginagastusan ang pa-load ng boyfriend para sa ibang lalake (You better not be chatting with another guy, you’d be just like this caller on the radio.  She’s just using her boyfriend’s load to cheat).”

DATE NIGHT Nimfa with her boyfriend Roger in their favorite dining spot

One of Avid’s inspirations is the late night radio show where people from all walks of life confess their heartaches at the risk of being schooled by the disc jockey. “It’s fascinating how people subject themselves to such public humiliation,” he muses.  “It’s like a hybrid of penance, the need for attention and a sincere call for help.” He just changed the characters into animals.  

There are kinky love scenes and some language are not suitable for young audiences but we hope more local studios follow suit and create more jobs for our local animators, making this endeavor sustainable to all.

Avid is active in the Philippine Animation Workers Association (PAWA). He advises future animators to learn the boring stuff about taxes, employee benefits, and labor laws. “Animators are always very passionate and that passion is easily abused,” he informs the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle

Again, Hayop Ka! is not for kids. Now streaming on Netflix for mature audiences.