Breaking Down New Filipino Animated Movie, Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story

Director Avid Liongoren and star Angelica Panganiban talk about what it’s like working on a locally made animated movie, the challenges they faced, and the message that they want people to take away from the movie.

Angelica Panganiban is no stranger when it comes to acting. Her first acting role was when she was 7 years old and ever since then has been a constant presence on the big and small screen. From comedy to drama, romance, and everything in between, she’s a proven actress who’s done a lot.

Avid Liongoren was mostly known for directing TV commercials and music videos for local artists such as Yeng Constantino but he became a director to watch for in the movie space after the release of the well-received Saving Sally which premiered during the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. His feature film debut about the growing relationship of two teenagers is unique because it features a hybrid mix of live-action scenes and animation (It’s currently available on Netflix).

Now, both of them enter a new point in their careers as they worked on Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story which has the distinction of being the first-ever locally produced animated movie to be exclusively distributed by Netflix. Angelica provided the voice for the film’s titular character and Avid directed the movie, making this his second feature-length film to date and first full-on animated movie.

The two sat down for an interview with NYLON Manila over Zoom to talk about the movie, their experience working on it, and what people can expect from the movie.

Set in the Philippines where human beings are animals, Hayop Ka centers on, Nimfa Dimaano (Angelica Panganiban), a pussycat who works as a perfume sales kitty at a department store. She’s dating Roger (Robin Padilla), a macho mongrel who is a janitor but Nimfa feels that she wants more in the relationship, especially when it comes to her social status in life.

One day while at work, Nimfa meets Iñigo Villanueva (Sam Milby), a bourgeoisie business dog and soon their chemistry ignites. Now, Nimfa has to decide who her heart truly belongs to. Avid revealed that one of the inspirations of the movie was radio dramas as he shared that he
was once stuck in traffic and decided to listen to a radio drama as he got bored listening to music. He had a great time listening to it and kept on laughing by the funny and overdramatic voices of the actors.

When the ubiquitous line of “Hayop ka!” was uttered, he wondered, what if
the characters were actually animals? He says that having the movie revolve around Nimfa and her love life was based on late night radio programs where people would call in and share their love lives to the DJ who would then berate the caller but also give advice. The full title (Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story) meanwhile is a homage to over-the-top 90s movie titles and those of director Carlo J. Caparas.

While Avid’s first feature film, Saving Sally, had a mix of live-action actors and animated backgrounds and characters, Hayop Ka is full-on animation and that transition had its set of strengths and challenges.

As he shares “It’s very easy [going from Saving Sally to Hayop Ka] from a technical point of view because we’re not using that much hard drive space and it’s easier to render.” The hard part came when it comes to working on the characters as it required multiple people to work on them.

He goes on to explain “When you’re animating, you have a voice performance and then you do the other half which will be the animation.

One character is like two characters, the first actor is the voice over and the second would be the animator, several animators working on one character. That’s the challenging part because you have a lot of people doing a single performance.”

Angelica Panganiban has been acting for decades but voice-over work for animated movies is not necessarily her forte. As she shares, she is not used to being a voice actor and it wasn’t easy, but she imagined it as a Hollywood experience, where big movie actors do voice over work for an animated movie.

One of the things that she likes about the role was that Nimfa is a flawed character and does things that you may or may not agree with. Working on an animated movie brought a unique set of challenges to Angelica as she says that doing the role was not an easy experience.

She explains how when it comes to working on live-action movies, everything is there and in front of you and there’s no need to pretend. That isn’t the case when it comes to animated movies as she says “Sa voice [acting], boses lang mo ang naririnig parang yun lang yung chance mo para ma-express kung ano yung nararamdaman ng character.”

She gave double the effort and at times, she realized that she was doing hard work and joked that if the recording booth wasn’t airconditioned, she would have been drenched in sweat from the effort she gave. She did enjoy the experience though in the end and had a fun time working on a fun movie.

Hayop Ka mainly revolves around a love triangle and how personal desires move people to do certain things and Angelica says that there’s a message people can get from this movie, especially when it comes to love. The message she hopes people take away is to be sincere when it comes to your feelings and be honest with your partner.

If you feel that things aren’t right for you, do what you think is right. Avid adds that it’s ok whether or not you like Nimfa as it’s better than not caring at all.

“I’d rather have somebody not like Nimfa than not care at all. If
there is a reaction, that means we did our job decently because it’s either you like her or not like her.”

Given that the movie will premiere exclusively on Netflix, Avid hopes that this opportunity will benefit the Philippine animation industry as he wishes that more studios will be encouraged to make more animated movies. He says that in a time of a pandemic, it’s harder to do live-action and animation might be a more viable option.

“I just hope more people get into this so that there’s more work for our local animators.” Angelica just hopes that people enjoy the movie because they all worked hard on it in the past few years.

Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story is available on Netflix on October 29.

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