Saturday, December 17, 2016

Animate Your Life with Saving Sally at the MMFF 2016

Wazzup Pilipinas!
"MMFF... Maraming Magandang Filipino Films!" - Saving Sally
The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) council for this year could should be praised for no longer continuing to accepting poorly conceptualized movies with no substantial or significant story lines and only capitalizes on the popularity of its lead stars.

The acceptance of only quality films would make the movie choices on Christmas Day of December 25 a lot more interesting to watch since it would not cater to the upper level crowd that usually snubs the MMFF due to crap movie choices.

Being low-budgeted does not necessarily mean poor quality films. It only means it was a lot more challenging for the people involved to finish the movie project. It is quite admirable that these individuals have managed to come up with a promising piece even though they do not have the luxury of resources or financial funding.

I would be equally surprised that I would be included among the MMFF choices for the public to watch on a highly celebrated occasion when most people are joyously out there on the streets with their families dining out them watching their choice of movie.

One of the movies included among the 8 MMFF 2016 entries is Saving Sally, a familiar coming-of-age story told with super-stylized visuals. The project blends live action, 2D animation and an abundance of warm, fuzzy feelings to create a totally unique and loveable little film. The movie is from Director Avid Liongoren and Writer Charlene Sawit-Esguerra, with actors TJ Trinidad, Enzo Marcos and Rhian Ramos.

We recently had a bloggers conference (blogcon) with some of the Saving Sally peeps, specifically with actor TJ Trinidad, it's Director and it's writer.  The blogcon was held at the Tomato Kick restaurant located in Sct. Madrinan corner Tomas Morato in Quezon City.

The movie is mostly about Marty, an aspiring comic book artist (at dakilang torpe). His imagination allows him to see unpleasant people as monsters and himself as the hero who saves his true love from the big bad world---the problem is, he is incapable of saving anyone in real life. 

One of his creations is a ".... is a story about a girl who is literally the center of the universe. And a boy astronomer who's drawn to her light. The girl is stolen by a band of monsters who keep her in an impenetrable fortress. They enslave her and keep her from her birth right. She thinks her only way out is marrying this monster prince. Because she feels that living with one monster is better than living in a fortress full of them. And all this time, the boy plots his rescue from his observatory..."

Sally is a weirdo that's quite a nerd. She creates robots out of bits of junk--not because it's necessary, but because she's lonely. But Sally is the type who will pretend everything is okay and keeps her problems secret--even from her best friend, Marty.
The initial look of the film was inspired by the film “Mirrormask” , which was written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave Mckean. References to the work of pinoy komiks artists are seen all over in the film--artists such as Manix Abrera, Arnold Aree, Apol Sta Maria, Kajo Baldisimo, Gerry Alanguilan and many more. The Creative team of the film are such big KPOP fans, they decided to include a reference to Sandara Park in the film.  Saab Magalona Cameo’d in both versions of the film. There’s also a character that was inspired by the real life 'Zorro' of UP Diliman.

Though this is not the first time such a concept of merging live action with animation has been made, this particular movie is promising as the movie was initially not intended for mainstream viewing. Curiosity will definitely kick in how this movie got a very satisfactory review by the MMFF council.

Saving Sally is a live action and animation movie that was more than 10 years in the making due to many reasons aside from budget constraints. The short story the film is based on was written in 2002, the first shoot was in 2005, the reshoot was in 2010, and the film was completed in 2016. It took a long time due to lack of funds and because only five core artists were working on it in a small house in Teacher's Village (Pixar and Disney movies have hundreds of artists working on their films).

Why even mention the lengthy years when the reasons were not really flattering? The Saving Sally group would just like to be sincerely open with how they transitioned from just planing to release their work as an online masterpiece hoping to be viral or trending, into how it surprisingly got included in the MMFF. From having to re-take many scenes when the original lead actress, Anna Larrucea, was no longer available and replaced by Rhian Ramos. Anyway, people would eventually know and it would be better coming from them. Besides, their story was really a worthy life lesson of never giving up for you might just soon win big time if we persist on doing what we really love. You could also say that the movie has a sentimental value for the creators.

Here is the story behind why the movie took so long. This was written by the writer in 2012.

We encourage everyone to please support the movie as this has been graded A by the Movie Evaluation Board for being a quality film. We should also be patronizing independent movie makers so they will be encouraged to continue coming up with more intellectually stimulating movies other than the usual "pang-masa" shown in the previous years which has been constantly been blockbusters and high-earning movies but unfortunately has been dumbing down the masses due to its poor story lines and concepts.

But with regards to the "dumbing down of the masses" claim, many would also argue that most people would not want to watch "complicated," "visually-stunning" or "intellectually stimulating" movies during the holiday season. Many would rather watch a light and no-brainer movie so they could just laugh away at all the stupidity and low-quality effects they see on the screen.

With this argument, I would readily disagree because we have been continuously doing the same stuff in most mainstream movies, and even applying the same poor concepts in our  "tele-seryes" just so mainstream producers and movie-makers could work on less but earn more commercially. Most of the time, majority of the movies' budget goes to the talent fees of the big actors, actresses or love teams so the production has to reduce the costs for other components of the movie.

Supporting the Saving Sally movie is also an opportunity to recognize world-class Filipino animators who have been less acknowledged for their stunning works behind the scenes. If you are not yet aware, we have so many talented Filipinos who have been creating animation for many foreign cartoons and games but are not widely known even locally in the Philippines.

We have been a media partner for Animahenasyon organized by the Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI), as well as the National Digital Arts Awards (NDAA) for several years already because I fully support initiatives of Filipino animators, and their development and progress throughout the years, so I would very much be equally supporting this movie as well.

But what would be the people's criteria in choosing the movie they would put their hard-earned money into?

With the recent controversies surrounding the movie choices for the MMFF this year, we were also debating on whether the public acceptance would come out with interesting statistics that would be talked about by movie critics and the social media -savvy public afterwards. Would the public support the movies these year when the usual players are no longer part of it?
“The film is very well directed and deserves extra praise for the concept and the animation… much care and patience were invested in this daring and brave entry to this year’s MMFF” - Cinema Evaluation Board
FYI: Aside from the exclusive interviews, we also took the complete video coverage of the blogcon so please do watch our for the videos divided into several parts soon at our YouTube channel at

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