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The next big thing in the Philippine animation industry is about to happen as "Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia" competes with seven other films in the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which opens on Christmas day.

It was not easy for Cutting Edge Productions, the local animators behind "Dayo" to be selected in the festival. When the script by Temi Abad, Jr. and Eric Cabahug was submitted to the committee for consideration, they did not immediately accept it. But the team was hopeful, and insisted on presenting the project again until remarkably, "Dayo" made it to the final 8 out of the 19 films.

"Dayo" is a heartwarming story of overcoming one's fear and triumphing over adversity. It centers on the 11-year-old Bubuy (voiced by Nash Aguas) who is out to save his abducted grandparents in the land of Elementalia, a mystical world that houses many of the Philippines' mythological creatures. Along the way, Bubuy meets Anna (voiced by Katrina “Hopia” Legaspi), a teen manananggal (a winged creature that can separate her torso from her lower body) who befriends and helps Bubuy in his quest to rescue his grandparents.

"Dayo" aims to reintroduce a new dimension to the usual reviled fictitious creatures like the tikbalang, kapre, manananggal and aswang. "They are normally presented as predators or portrayed as villains," explains director Robert Quilao. "We created a new twists to these characters by transforming the scary manananggal into the friendly manananggol (defender) who acts as the guardian of Elementalia."

The team had comedienne Pokwang to voice over Vicky, the yaya manananggal of Anna, hence the character sketch loosely looks like her. They also thought that it would be funny to have Vicky exchange lines with Toti, a character who sounds like local news anchorman Mike Enriquez. The team disclaims though that if other animated characters may appear to have similarities with real life people, those are unintentional.

“Dayo” also features the voices of Michael V (Narsi), Noel Trinidad (Lolo Meong), Nova Villa (Lola Nita), Johnny Delgado (Carpio), Peque Gallaga (Nano), Laurice Guillen (Diwata/Bruha) and Gabe Mercado (Jo).

Robert recalls some challenges the team had to face, "but the storyboarding stage was perhaps the toughest because it involved setting the mood and look of the whole animation." Conceptualizing the story took a three-day brainstorming conference and finishing the script took about three to four months.

Since the project is all-digital, it was easy to animate the storyboard (also known as animatics). No storyboard could ever be seen plastered on the office walls or workstations at Cutting Edge. While the drawing was done traditionally by hand, it was executed directly onto the computer screen or PC tablet, hence, Robert labels the project as "tradigital" animation. The film took almost two years to make, a period shorter than the usual three years for a traditional full-length animation to finish. Over 500 artists nationwide were pulled together to work on this project.

"Dayo" is a hybrid product of combining 2D and 3D animation, powered by Toon Boom using Macintosh and Linux platforms. 2D animation is used for the characters while 3D animation is used for the backgrounds especially for the big scenes.

Although it is rather difficult and expensive to produce an animation project, "It's the only content we can sell abroad," justifies Jessie Lasaten, executive producer of "Dayo" and CEO of Cutting Edge. "The world is our market. The idea is to recover half of the investment in the local market and half of it worldwide. But if we're lucky, we can recover the whole investment locally." Jessie reveals that Cutting Edge has spent around 1.3 million US dollars to produce "Dayo."

Hence, Cutting Edge is poised at producing world-class projects like “Dayo.” Internationally-acclaimed performing artist Lea Salonga sings the theme song “Lipad,” while multi-awarded composer/arranger Lasaten does the musical score and records it with a live orchestra through FILharmoniKA, conducted by Gerard Salonga.

In certain aspects where other local full-length animated films failed, "Dayo" hopes to succeed. What makes "Dayo" unique is the Filipino feel that the whole animated feature has – the characters, environment and even the jokes. While there are some fight sequences included in the film, it is generally non-violent and child-friendly. The film is rich in folklore. It abounds in traditional values that are reflective of Philippine culture.

Originally conceptualized as a research and development project, "Dayo" is a proof that Filipinos can do animated films as ambitious as this. The team behind “Dayo” urges other studios to also start pushing for original content.

For more information, visit the official movie web site at www.dayomovie.com.

“Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia” is co-presented by Frootees, Purefoods Tender Juicy Hotdog and Mister Donut. The film is also supported by Ascorbic Acid Ceelin, Crispy Fry Breading Mix, Enervon Bright Brand, Timezone, FUJI YKL, Inquirer.net, Yehey.com, ClicktheCity.com, Animation Council of the Philippines, Toon Boom, Wacom, Woodpecker Studio, iAcademy and New Media.

For queries, you may contact Oliver Oliveros, Senior Public Relations Officer/Consultant, STAGES, at tel. no. 818-1111 loc. 225, mobile no. 0928-7725254, email add. stages_pr@i-manila.com.ph or web site http://oliverpublicist.blogspot.com

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