COMMSOC’s Reel Talk: NOYPILIKULA gives a glimpse behind the local film industry

Inviting some of the renowned directors and producers in the country’s film industry, the Communication and Media Society  (COMMSOC) webinar Reel Talk: NOYPILIKULA’s last June 19 tackled what it means to work for the country’s film industry and featured some short films directed by Lasallian filmmakers. 

The current state of Philippine animation

Delving into the state of the local animation industry, award-winning animated film director Avid Liongoren shared the experiences of Rocketsheep Studio, a group of Filipino artists specializing in illustration and 2D animation. Liongoren showcased some works of their expertise such as commercials and music videos for top brands and advertising agencies to financially support their passion in independent filmmaking. 

Liongoren also shared the struggles in having little to no budget, mentioning how their first animated film Saving Sally took 12 years to make due to “inexperience and lack of bulk of cash at hand.” Along with its theatrical run in the country, Saving Sally also gained recognition in international film festivals, including a jury prize in 2016 Belgium’s Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival and Portugal’s Fantasporto Film Festival. 

On the topic of casting famous celebrities in animated films instead of professional voice actors, Liongoren explained that animators are casting celebrities to get funds from the investors as the Philippine animation industry is not yet fully recognized today. 

When asked about his thoughts about the future of animation in the country, Liongoren shared that “Sana magkaroon tayo ng sariling sustainable na animation industry.” With limited opportunities and budget, it is obvious that the Philippine animation industry still has room to grow, especially if it receives the recognition and support it deserves.

Behind the scenes

Providing more than just a glimpse of the mainstream film industry, award-winning director Benedict Mique shared what he learned about the realities behind filmmaking from his two decades of experience. Directing several Filipino movies such as Momol Nights, ML, Wild Little Love, and Til’ I Met You (as one of the screenwriters), Mique recalled how he started from humble beginnings and described himself as a “saling-pusa.” He also included his other experiences in the film industry, working as an assistant, writer, and creative consultant. 

Mique narrated the challenges he faced in filmmaking from his midlife crisis to contract issues with networks, all of which paid off in the end as he learned to navigate the ins and outs of the film industry, and how to mix film genres along the way. 

His discussion did not shy away from the harsh realities behind filmmaking and the effect of the ABS-CBN shutdown. “Mahirap din kasi mabuhay as an indie filmmaker, kasi wala talaga siyang pera. A lot of your films…baka ‘yong iba diyan abonohan mo, hindi mo mababalik ‘yong pera sayo unless may bibili sa kaniya sa mainstream din,” he explained. “Unfortunately, wala ‘yong ABS and a lot of TV and film workers, walang trabaho,” Mique added.

Moreover, Mique expounded on the distinction between mainstream and indie films in the dynamics and process, sharing that “When you are doing mainstream, you have a producer that you are supposed to give them what they want, as a filmmaker. As an indie filmmaker, if you are really indie at pera mo ‘yong gagastusin mo, you only answer for yourself and eventually to your audience. So nasa iyo ang lahat ng baraha. Kung anong gusto mong gawin, gagawin mo.”

In line with this, Mique also tackled how the line separating the mainstream and independent films becomes thinner today, as he mentioned that “Commercial and indie films, actually right now, if you look at it, numinipis nang numinipis ‘yong line that…nag se-separate sa kanila.” He also added that more indie filmmakers today are getting into mainstream films to be recognized and further establish their careers.


Creating a world within the film reels

Describing the process of visual design in a film, director and production designer Nestor Abrogena focused on the technicalities of filmmaking. He highlighted the important role of production designers who work for art direction, set design, costume design, hair and make-up, and special effects in filmmaking. 

Abrogena emphasized that “production designers hold the position of unique and important responsibility” as they are expected to be fully present and engaged from start to finish, while working hard every day in order to make sure that the film looks as intended. “So ‘pag wala ‘yong production designer’s organization, creativity, and knowledge, every area of the art department would have trouble staying focused and on the same page,” he added. 

In order to enhance the flow of the story, he also cited how research is crucial in the design process as “production designers need to create a convincing space that can speak about the characters.” This can be done through interpreting the script as the design has to support the story and its characters, as he also shared how visual design is involved in “how the characters are developed, and how you envision their environment.” Additionally, he pointed out the level of importance of production design by stating that “Without the cohesive design, the look of a film may not be strong enough to tell its story.”


Reality through the eyes of creatives  

The reality that we live in today also paved the way toward the creative world of filmmaking, as seen through student filmmakers Bryant Gali and Erika Reyes. The webinar also showed the short films of some student directors that mirror some of the relevant issues that we know of today. 

Gali’s short film No Trip tells the story of Jesuzimo Gali, a school service driver whose livelihood saw the impact of the pandemic. “Noong una, ang hirap. Kasi nga hindi ako sanay na walang trabaho. Pero talagang gano’n eh, wala tayong magagawa. Wala namang may gusto niyan,” he stated as the gravity of the situation became evident in the tone of his voice. 

On a similar note, the short film Tumbang Preso directed by Reyes that was also featured in the City of Imus International Film Festival in 2019 delivered a message that insinuates a symbol of faded innocence,  brought to life through the effective use of colors in establishing the film’s narrative. The title Tumbang Preso references the well-known Filipino street game with how children are being exploited in the dirty work of adults, particularly in illegal drug trade.  

Gali and Reyes are some of the many filmmakers who use their craft to help people see and understand socially relevant issues through a creative eye. It’s truly something to keep an eye out for because what they’re trying to convey is the real-life condition that a lot of us are familiar with, such as the injustices, deprivation of a normal life, and lost innocence. 


The hard work and passion of the creative minds behind the movies we watch on screens show the immense possibilities that shine through even with struggles and challenges that we face today. This is a particularly important message for aspiring filmmakers and directors that continue to pave the way to a promising and optimistic future for the world of filmmaking not just in the Philippines, but also on an international scale. 

Graphics slider courtesy of Communication and Media Society (COMMSOC). 

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