ARNOLD ARRE Filipino Fantasy Artist

Notes on “Lakas ng Lahi,” an animated short film

Animation, Musings

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My friend and colleague, writer and U.P. Professor Emil Flores, and I have always enjoyed watching and talking about action movies. We’re both frustrated with the fact that VERY FEW Filipino movies are showcasing Filipino martial arts like arnis and eskrima. Since I was already doing animation, I thought it would be fun to make a film to showcase these fighting techniques.

I called up Emil one night in October 2013 to ask if he wanted to collaborate on a fantasy / action / adventure story. At first we dubbed it “the Katipunero project” because the story initially involved Katipuneros. It evolved into a group of Filipino martial arts fighters who travel to the past to fight in the Filipino revolution.

lakas ng lahi storyboards

Later, we decided to set the story in present day Manila and just make them vigilantes who are keen on arnis and eskrima. Finally, we settled on the characters being Katipunero warriors who are brought to the present to fight crime using age-old fighting techniques and weapons.

I’m very honored to have worked on this story with Emil and here he is to tell you more about how the project came together.

***
I’ve always loved action movies. Martial arts movies are particularly fascinating for me because a fighting style can reflect the culture that developed it. I think that martial arts movies are good vehicles for cultural exchange and even cultural pride. I love movies like Heroes of the East that showcase styles from different cultures namely China and Japan. In a film conference I attended in Singapore, a scholar from Thailand included Ong Bak in his discussion of nationalism in Thai films. Indeed, that particular film put Muay Thai on the global entertainment map. Then The Raid showcased Indonesian Silat to the global audience to rave reviews.

The Filipino martial arts have been proven to be effective combat systems and have been successfully portrayed in Hollywood movies like the Bourne series and even 300. But that’s precisely what I find baffling. Why are Hollywood movies showcasing Filipino martial arts and not FILIPINO movies? I can bring in a host of colonial and postcolonial discussion here about our relationship with the US. But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll just say that as a fan of animation and anime, I am tremendously excited that Arnold Arre is doing an animated series that features Filipino martial arts! I’m also grateful that he invited me to work on the project with him.

lakas ng lahi concept art

Arnold had the premise of three warriors from the 19th Century. He showed me his character designs for three fighters, and I figured they should represent three types of Filipino martial arts: pre-Hispanic, Hispanic influenced and Chinese influenced. These styles are represented by the characters’ weapons. The styles and weapons in turn, define their character backgrounds. The leader uses a kampilan, a sword identified as a weapon used by chieftains. This defines him as the leader and as a man who has lost his noble line due to the Spanish invasion. He sees the revolution as a battle not just for freedom but also for his ancestors’ honor. The female character, a Spanish mestiza, uses Spanish daggers. She has the invader’s blood in her veins but she forsook her privileged status to join the revolution. The third character uses a rope dart as he is a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines who, while keeping his own culture, still identifies himself as a Filipino as he also joins the revolution. All three now find themselves fighting a different war, a more ambiguous war, perhaps, in present day Manila.

I hope that this series will not just showcase great action and entertainment but also remind us of the warriors of the past who fought for our country and who continue to inspire us to appreciate our own culture and history.

(Emil Flores, May 28, 2014)

***
And now, just in time for Independence Day 2014, here it is:

Lakas ng Lahi (“Blood Compact”) – Filipino Animated Short Film from Arnold Arre on Vimeo.

Sila ang mga matang mulat sa marahas na pang-uusig. Sila ang patuloy na sumasaksi at lumalaban sa pawang paraang kanilang kinagisnan: Pakikipagdigmaan.

Lakas ng Lahi
(English title: Blood Compact)
Directed & Animated by Arnold Arre
Written by Emil Flores
Story by Arnold Arre & Emil Flores
Music composed by Cynthia Arre / arranged by Arnold Arre
Opening text Filipino translation by Neva Kares Talladen

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Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby – Collaboration with Gerry Alanguilan

Animation, Comics

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Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby

It’s been 2 months since the release of “Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby” at the Summer Komikon and the feedback has been absolutely amazing! Thank you guys for all your support.

I am honored to have worked on this book with my friend and colleague, award-winning comic book artist Gerry Alanguilan, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on “Lastikman” and “Darna Lives” before.  The last time I worked on a comic was 6 years ago, after which I started dabbling in film making and, later on, animation. I have to say that it was fun working on a comic again and Rodski and Gerry had a lot to do with that. :)

To know more about how this project came about, I’ve reprinted my afterword below:

I first met Rodski Patotski that one evening in Cubao after watching a short film which, incidentally Gerry starred in. (He played a drunkard who manages a brothel — a complete opposite of the nice guy that he is). Gerry, whom I’ve known since the early 90s and have had the pleasure of collaborating with on “Lastikman” and “Darna Lives”, told me all about this new story concept that he was thinking of having me draw for. It was going to be about a “dalagang isip baby”, he said, and of course it piqued my interest. A female Bondying, so to speak. How could I resist? Bondying is one of those stories we’ve known as kids and who else but Gerry could take it up a notch? Teasing and testing our imagination. Something he’s been known to do since he released “Wasted”: a remarkable book wherein, while reading, I always imagined the artist/writer wearing a Chesire Cat-like grin amid all the violence, blood, and gore.

[caption id="attachment_906" align="alignnone" width="550"]rodski-initial-sketch The very first sketch of Rodski Patotski (August 3, 2012)[/caption]

A year later, Gerry sent me the first chapter. I couldn’t work on it right away since I was busy with other commitments but I did send an early sketch of how I imagined Rodski, a female adult child, complete with hair in a high ponytail and lollipop in mouth — which pretty much looks like what you see in the book. So began this wonderful collaboration with a fellow artist whose creative mind I can’t seem to get enough of . Once I received all of Gerry’s scripts, the book was completed in under three months, proof that it’s quite a page turner even for me since I couldn’t wait to see what will happen next. I have to say, Gerry made those three months absolutely fun.

Rodski Patotski - Ang Dalagang Baby

“Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby” is a heart-tugging, feel-good, fun book, the kind that will make you smile when you wake up. Or it could also be an exciting science-fiction-action-adventure-romance story, depending on your mood. While working on it, I couldn’t help but wonder how different “Rodski…” is from “Wasted”. One is a colorful tale about family and friends helping each other in the face of adversity, and the other, an edgy black and white graphic novel about a man who will shoot anyone who pisses him off. But now that I think about it. maybe “Rodski…” and “Wasted” are somewhat related, or at least the two books represent Rodski’s mind.

Rodski Patotski, after all, is a cute and innocent pistachio ice cream-loving girl who holds a teddy bear in one hand, and an XM25 grenade launcher in the other.

Arnold Arre
Quezon City
March 31. 2014

On that note, I will leave you with this Rodski animated ad that I made for the Summer Komikon launch. Enjoy!

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A clip from my latest animated project

Animation

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Below is a clip from my latest animated project (title still to be announced) which was shown during my talk at the Summer Komikon on April 12, 2014.

For this I’m happy to be collaborating with friend and fellow comic book enthusiast U.P. Professor Emil Flores.

Early on during my discussions with Emil, it was clear to both of us that we wanted to showcase Philippine martial arts and as you will see in this one-minute preview, one of the characters is using eskrima.

I’ll update you guys again once the project is completed. FYI there’s mild violence. :)

Story by Arnold Arre and Emil Flores
Screenplay by Emil Flores
Directed by Arnold Arre
Music by Cynthia Arre

 

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“Milkyboy” Animated Film in the Making

Animation, Comics

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Just thought I’d give you guys a quick update on what I’ve been doing these past months that I haven’t been blogging. (I actually forgot that I have a blog! )

3rd Quarter of 2012 to early 2013:

After finishing the “Lupang Hinirang” animation, I was again commissioned by Rock Ed Philippines, in cooperation with the National Youth Commission and the Commission on Human Rights, to make animated videos to celebrate our country’s freedom from Martial Law. You can see all three videos on this page.

February 2013 to the present:

Right now I have a few comic projects in the works: I’m illustrating Gerry Alanguilan‘s story “Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby” which is a project we’ve been discussing for a long time already. I also illustrated for a comic in an anthology written by Chris Costello, and Jamie Bautista and I have also been working on reviving “Cast Comics”.

I also made a quick animated fan video for Pol Medina Jr’s “Pugad Baboy” comic series which I’ve loved since high school called “The Pugad Baboy Shuffle” . It’s a simple thank you to him for inspiring generations of artists like myself.

My personal project for this year is my first animated short, “Milkyboy”. The story is inspired by TV commercials featuring child endorsers that I used to see back when I was a kid myself. I’ve always wondered about how their lives are when they’re no longer famous. Are they happy? How did the TV stint affect their lives? I’ve had the idea since 1994 and it was supposed to be the 2nd act of a (yet unpublished) three-part anthology titled “Sell the Nation” that I was planning back then. Fast forward to the future — I decided to update the story and make it into an animated film. (One thing I realized about animation is that there are almost no limits to what you can do!)


This is also my first time animating dialogue so it’s been quite a challenge but I’m learning a lot along the way.

I’m very particular with naturalism in dialogue and I don’t want the film looking and sounding like it was dubbed — especially not with that singsong / “class recitation” style which I absolutely hate.  So I asked friends whom I’ve already worked with in my previous film projects to provide voices for the characters: Mihk Vergara, Yvette Tan, Denise Mallabo, Chris Costello, Miguel Nacianceno, RJ Ledesma, Erwin Romulo, Gang Badoy-Capati to name a few. These guys were all wonderful to work with and did such AMAZING jobs. It was great seeing my story’s characters come to life through them!

We recorded the voices in a QC Studio called Independent Minds. Prior to recording, I sent my actors the script so they can study their roles and lines. I also made sure to give them a free hand in interpreting the characters in their own way. After receiving the sound clips,  I listened to the different takes and spliced together lines that worked best and then animated based on the timing of the words and pauses. I saw it as a matter of imagining how the characters would act and move in relation to the spoken words. (This is something that I’ve always wanted to achieve in comics and now I’m seeing a world of difference between the two media!)

Right now the film is underway and I’m posting a trailer real soon. If you would like to keep updated on this project (and others), you can find me on Facebook — I update my profile there a lot more often than I do this blog. :D

UPDATE (Aug.29)the page for Milkyboy where you can see the trailer plus some of my background notes is now up. There’s also a short feature on it on Manifesto.com.ph.

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Some notes on the “Kaninong Anino” animated music video for Rock Ed

Animation

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A few months back, Rock Ed Philippines asked me to make the music video for “Kaninong Anino“, a song from the ROCK RIZAL album in celebration of Dr. Jose Rizal’s 150th anniversary. It was easy for me to say yes since the music and the idea behind the project is already wonderful and impressive to begin with.

I originally intended for the video to be in live-action full of intensive special effects and green-screen shots. The original storyboard featured a post-apocalyptic vision of Manila complete with flying jeepneys and hologram images, something I’ve always wanted to do. Here are test videos I made.


Rizal Monument test


Quezon Memorial Circle test with actual footage of people in the foreground

While this project was in progress, I also started experimenting with animation. I was very happy with the feedback on the Andong Agimat video so it was then and there that I decided to go with that medium for the Rock Ed video instead.

The concept remains the same except that with animation, I realized that I can show Rizal as the main character walking amidst ruins. I knew it would be a mistake to try and interpret the lyrics literally so I put a lot of symbolism in the video. We see the structures of Manila all destroyed, however the monuments are still standing. It’s my way of saying that with all the corruption, our country has deteriorated and because of consumerism, we seem to have forgotten our heroes and what they fought for. However their images are still intact and that’s one thing that should encourage us to go on.

The concept came about when I was driving along EDSA and saw all the bilboards and dizzying neon signs representing our modern lifestyles and wondered what Rizal might think if he were here today. In fact, the opening scene of the video shows him looking at the P1.00 coin and I was wondering what he could be thinking, seeing that his image has been relegated to a mere peso coin. Then again if you think about it, one peso isn’t bad at all — it has the symbol “1″ which means No. 1 and because of its minimum value, it’s accessible to every Juan. :)

I’m very happy with the video, my only hope is that people don’t focus too much on the destruction (although honestly that was the original intention. I believe you can’t powerfully illustrate the positive without contrasting it with the negative.) The end sequence where Rizal hurdles the broken bridge and takes a break from his tour should give people the idea that there is hope for our country and all of us.

I’m very thankful to Gang Badoy Capati (who wrote the moving lyrics) for trusting me with the video and kudos to all the musicians who inspired me in working on this memorable project. Here it is, please enjoy.

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New website + trying my hand at animation

Animation, Comics

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Welcome to the latest version of my website! We finally found time to load it with new works (for the first time since 2004 :D). Cyn and I agreed that a simpler portfolio site with a blog is best since it’ll be easier to update. ( In case you miss the old site, it can be found here. )

I always get messages asking about where copies of Trip to Tagaytay, After Eden, Andong Agimat, and The Mythology Class can be found. Sadly, you won’t find them anywhere since they’re all out of print. However, I heard from Nautilus Comics publisher (and my Private Iris partner) Jamie Bautista that Martial Law Babies is still available so please check it out too and I’ll see what I can do about getting the others republished.

There hasn’t been a book from me since 2008. That was when I decided to switch gears and focus on a long time dream of mine… film. With the help of family and friends I was able to produce two shorts, Chapter One and Kaye for Komiks. I’ve screened them in schools so you might have seen them already. For those who haven’t, I’m still researching on how to stream the full-length movies from this site and I’ll make sure to give you guys a heads up when they’re finally online.

When I work on my stories I always play them in my head as movies with sound, music and motion which is why I’ve always felt hindered by the limitations of  the static comic book page. Music is especially tricky to interpret although I did my best with the “Night and Day” sequence in After Eden, and this concert scene from Martial Law Babies (the page on the right), but I guess it’s not the same.

Due to this frustration, just half a month ago I decided to try my hand at animation. Apart from making flip books as a kid, I’ve never done it before but I took that as a challenge and went ahead and made one.

Two weeks and several sheets of paper later, I’m happy to present my first animated work. It’s a 4 minute long short film titled Andong Agimat: Kanya ang Kalye. Animation is tedious work but I really enjoyed making this and I hope you’ll like it. You can watch it below.

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