TBS Digicon6 Philippines’ winner speaks ‘Mutya’

By FARHATNAZ ANSARI | 25 July, 2011 - 13:17

Mutya, a short film by Philippines independent animation filmmaker was shortlisted for the TBS Digicon 6 Awards last year. Animation Xpress Asia Pacific’s Farhatnaz Ansari spoke to Nelson A. Caliguia Jr.,and he shares his experiences while making the short film from its concept to finishing the film to winning award, challenges faced and his future projects and more…


Could you tell us about yourself?
I am an independent animation filmmaker here in the Philippines, one of the very few ones. I continuously pursue my own indie productions of shorts and shorts series mainly through government support. I work mainly as the producer, writer and director of my films but I collaborate with other production artists.

How did you get into the animation field?
I was raised by animation professionals. Both my mother and father owned a boutique type studio that produced independent animation, tv ads and television animation. That was the environment I grew-up on. After working for a short while inside a studio, I decided to get grants and focus on making my own stuff instead. I graduated from De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde, Multi-media Arts.

How much time and how many artists worked on Mutya?
I had a network of artist friends that helped irregularly. All-in-all I think there were 15 people involved in Mutya, from pre-prod to post and music.

It took an entire year to make from pre-prod to post. It was a scary experience. I was really anxious about how everything would turn out. Luckily it won some local awards and got into competition in Tokyo and Seoul. I know there's still a lot of proving to do but at least I became empowered to continue doing what I want.

Who are the key people involved with Mutya?
It was actually a tribute project to my late mother, Mina Caliguia and I actually used a story written by her as inspiration. Along the way, however, I was also able to give the story my own interpretation.

Chris Reyes was the project's sound designer. Ian Gonzalez was the digital supervisor who handled much of the scanning and digital coloring. Mac Ballesteros was my collaborator in the storyboard stage and he also animated a lot of scenes. 
What is the role of National Commission for Culture and the Arts in regard to Mutya?
NCCA is the overall policy making body, coordinating, and grants giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture. Mutya received a P250,000 peso grant from NCCA as financial support.
What were the challenges you faced while making Mutya and how you tackled them?
I think it has more to do with emotions since I was taking an unconventional career choice. I had to ignore comparisons to other colleagues that chose more stable and glamorous paths. I think I already got over it but when I was making Mutya, it was really a big deal for me.

Another source of difficulty is the budget constraints. If I did not have some savings during the production, it wouldn't have been possible to complete "Mutya". For me, making these projects is an investment rather than a way to earn. 

What are you working on currently?
After making Mutya, I got another grant from NCCA and I'm currently finishing a 5-minute animated short entitled "Little Miss Firefly".

I also got an oppurtunity to work with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), the primary entity of the executive branch of the Philippine government that will promote, develop, and regulate integrated and strategic ICT systems and communication facilities, on a muti-media project that combines both animation and comics. The project espouses environmentalism as its main theme.

In order to accommodate the larger funding from CICT, I was urged to set-up an NPO to be able to handle funds. In tribute to "Mutya", I named the non-profit organization that I have founded after it: Mutya Moving Pictures Inc. This company is still in the start-up stage but I am really hoping that more funding and projects would come soon!