Last August 26, 2017, iACADEMY’s Creative Team and Music Organization bagged the Honorable Mention award as one of the best student animators at the Sine Panitik: Alamat sa Animasyon competition held by the Film Academy of the Philippines. Their short animated film entitled “Alamat ng Unang Unggoy,” competed against 30 other entries from various universities throughout the Philippines.
(Photo taken from Alamat ng Unang Unggoy short film)
The production team representatives who received the award during the awards ceremony at the 35th Luna Awards were Michael Singun, co-director of the film, and Alyanna Timbol, production manager of the Creative Team.
We sat down with the film’s Director, Michael John Singun, and Jeremiah Cuyas, the Assistant Director and Producer, as they discussed the making of the short film and their road to winning the award.
On Making the Film and Winning an Award
What is Alamat ng Unang Unggoy about?
Alamat ng Unang Unggoy was based on the original concept and adaptation by Justine "Jax" Gonzales. It is the story of a misbehaving girl who was punished by a goddess by turning her into a monkey.
Alamat ng Unang Unggoy is the Filipino myth of where monkeys came from; according to our myth - it stems forth from the combination of a human and a divine [alleged] cursed twig or stick that molded together to form the monkey's tail.
Describe the animation/art style
The animation style is, if put simply - very traditional. The fact that majority of the scenes were made by multiple people could also highlight some sort of diversity that the animation has, in general. Some of our pegs were inspired by Disney’s animation style, initially.
How was your experience in working with other students on this short film?
I cannot emphasize how important the TEAM is to me. I wanted this project to be a great learning experience for my younger and talented schoolmates. Almost everyone is professional in their work and we do keep our best to remain level headed and it paid off. I am proud to see the students who I taught the basics of animation become such talented artists.
As generic as it sounds, it is quite a learning experience to be working with other students. We got to see a lot of diverse art styles and it shows on our final output. As mentioned earlier, the tested loyalty did pave way for some, such as myself, to hone their skills further – not just for the sake of completion or more personal exposure, but adapting to the styles we’re not akin to really placed us at the edge of our seats as animators. Motivating people to stay and help complete the whole thing was also a challenge in itself and it’s the presence of such a consistent motivator that makes or breaks a project overall. This was no exception. Although the absence of activity by certain members created a huge waterloo in the production in its entirety, creating contingencies on the fly also helped us adapt to the situation faced that definitely made us stronger individually and as a crew.
Briefly discuss the making of the film
In making an animated film, everything starts with a story which evolves to a script. This script will then be visualized in a storyboard. The storyboard will then help our voice actors and music team, to create the base animatic for our artists to begin animation. At the end, we compile the animated scenes with sounds into what you see today.
How does it feel to have won the Honorable Mention award?
When I walked up the stage, it was quite remarkable. There I stood in front of famous actors and directors. I thought to myself, "Where else will I go next?"
I will admit, I did not expect this; nor did any of the other members who stayed to the end of the project. All I could say is that it was a joint effort and it indeed paid off.
On Becoming an Animator
When did you realize you wanted to become an animator?
I always wanted to [work in the] field of cartoons or comics since my Tito discovered my talent in drawing comic characters when I was four or five. Since then, I guess my wish to entertain was just there.
(Photo of Mark Singun)
Being an animator has been my brainchild ever since I was a little boy. I was drawn so much by motion pictures on screen and at the movies; not to mention the heart-moving stories and plots they had which inspired me to create stories of my own – kinds that you wouldn’t expect; and where you would definitely learn from and help you grow as a person after watching some of it – learn something technical or literal, etc. The least I could say is that I am quite passionate about it – the process and such and I hold on still to the idea of me completing and publishing my own story that a lot would love, learn, and rewatch over and over.
(Photo of Jeremiah Cuyas)
Why do you think being an animator is one of the best jobs in the world?
It is amazing. We are a close community. We know who is who. At times, it feels like when you work you actually play. I mean, where else can you act like a kid in work and not get fired? The best thing about it is definitely the journey. You don't know where it might take you. Just find and take all the opportunities you can get your graphite or radiated hands on.
The best thing about being an animator? You get to see the art and secrets behind the things we once tried to find out. For someone akin to the arts, seeing it move and have a life of its own is a thrilling and satisfying feeling; sure it seems synonymous to playing God in some way but in a very small scale that only involves a digital pen and paper (or the literal kind) but it still gives that same euphoria; the good kind of course. There is no ONE best thing about it per se; but for me, it helps you make the impossible, possible – even just visually speaking.
What is your message or advice to aspiring animators or Game Changers?
No matter how talented or creative you are, what's important is working in a team. Great animators became great because they enjoy their work as a team. There may be one or infinite people who puts you down, but in the end if you keep traveling the journey, you showed them that you make your greatness and not them.
If this is what you chose to be, always find a reason to continue being in it. Don’t let the process or people better than you scare you from it. Always aim for the idea that you have in your mind, it will help build you up both as an animator and as a person and never stop getting inspiration from wherever and whoever it comes from.
On Being an iACADEMY Game Changer
How does iACADEMY help you reach your full potential and become an amazing animator?
iACADEMY's faculty is what helped me achieve my first great steps. The animators there gave me a fighting chance in this competitive environment. At least now I can say my animations and directions finally got an award. I thank iACADEMY for bringing me up in ways I never expected.
Access to the facilities that iACADEMY has is one of the school’s strong points that helped me reach my potential as well as exposing me to great figures in the industry. Learning from such individuals is the biggest point and privilege that iACADEMY gave me which then helped me reach my potential.
What is it like to study in iACADEMY?
iACADEMY provides the environment to cultivate students as "INNOVATORS". As Game Changers we also change and make things better for the community. The best thing must be the INNOVATIVE teachers who keeps trying to find the best for the students. Now that is a game changer.
Dream of becoming an animator someday? Pursue your passion for animation by applying for our Animation program for Senior High or College! Visit www.iacademy.edu.ph or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our programs today.