Rizalians Behind Award-winning Animations: Guhit & The Collector
By Anna Rachel C. Abel
If Rizal were to live in today’s time, he would definitely have directed his very own films as a man of arts and science. Students from JRU may not have been Rizal himself but they are Rizalians who took on the task of revealing the world’s very essence and life through film animation. Hex Production Studios and Cool2 Studios have shown in local and international landscapes that they certainly have what it takes to be seen and heard for what they dare to share.
Hex Production Studio’s Guhit is a story of reality, inspiration, and hope. Mirroring the woes of society throughout pandemic, Hex Production reflected the struggles that came with surviving distance learning along with its mental and physical strains. Dionisio Bacudio III, the director of Guhit, detailed, “[at the start], Miko lacked motivation for school because of pandemic and financial problems.” He continued, “but when his drawing of the school building comes to life and takes him on a short journey as to what his future could look like, Miko continues to reach for success [through staying in school and studying.”
On another note, Cool2 Studio’s The Collector is full of meaning, transformation, and life as it follows a grim reaper’s early stages in life—or should death be more appropriate? You have got to love Cool2’s fervent efforts to depict how the world changed the lord of death’s values as he experienced life among the living. “I want my audience to have a wider perception of death, and the value and meaning of souls because sometimes, what’s always been in front of us suddenly means differently the more we understand its value,” shared by The Collector’s director Gerry Garcia.
Although the short films were made for academic purposes, there was more to their creation. “I wanted to have something to offer the world—a story to tell,” said Garcia. It started off with writing a script with a central theme that would appeal to their target audience. After all, having a character that connects with people is essential to storytellers whether through film or paper. Garcia even prompted, “making animations allow me to reach out to my audience and resound my inner voice through the art of filmmaking.”
Bacudio resounded the same sentiment as he stated, “Guhit is dedicated to all students out there that are lacking a bit of motivation to continue their studies or reach their goals,” and that they hope to raise awareness and understanding that “there are a lot of youth that were affected by the pandemic physically, emotionally and financially.” It intended to inspire and motivate its audience, particularly the students as well as the other members of educational institutions, yet it also emphasized parental guidance and teachers’ assistance regarding student decisions, especially during such vulnerable times.
Bacudio said, “it’s a story for our thesis in JRU, where we want to show our strengths,” that despite the original intention of completing an academic requirement, it is undeniable that they have fully utilized their learnings. “Using both 2D and 3D animation techniques was a choice made by the creators [Hex Production Studios] to take the film to another level,” as he added. Despite that, it was also their biggest challenge as Bacudio answered, “learning new programs that are more advance and used by professionals [was the hardest]. A lot of procedures were done to reach this level of quality that Hex Productions was aiming for.”
Garcia agreed that troubles abound during the production phase while admitting that, “creating a 3D animated film requires a lot of computing power, and I was only animating in Blender3D using a laptop that could barely handle high-poly assets.” Though with that said, our fellow Rizalians were not hampered by such constraints but instead conquered such challenges. “We were able to overcome the challenge by making our workflow and techniques more efficient so
that we could handle everything one step at a time,” answered by him.
Regardless of the difficulties, Bacudio expressed that they were thrilled to represent JRU in the face of stepping out of their comfort zone. “We were thrilled to join; hopeful and thankful for the awards that we get when joining outside competitions,” he stated. They have been bagging achievements starting late 2021 in the Adobo Video Fest by FB Watch as they won Best Social Good Video- Creative award. In July 2022, they placed Top 15 in MBC Short Film Festival 2022 while in November, they received an Honorable Mention in 24fps International Short Film Festival hosted in Texas, USA followed by a Nominee title in the Universal Film Festival held in New York, USA a few days after. In addition, within that month, they were proclaimed as Winner in the Animahenasyon 16 Best in Technical along with Nominee titles in Best in
Storytelling and Grand Prize categories.
Furthermore, in 2022, they joined the Selection category in various contests like Pinewood Studios’ First-time filmmaker sessions (England), One Earth Awards (Bangalore, India), International Sustainability Film Festival & Experience’s Duemila30 (Milan, Italy), Filipino Independent Film Festival Netherlands (Netherlands), Pyeongtaek International Film Festival (South Korea), International Inter University Short Film Festival (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh), and Dreamanila International Film Festival (Philippines).
In March 2023, they won Best Film and Best Editing in the Hats Off Short Film Festival organized in Deutschland, Germany. As of this writing, Guhit is a Finalist entry in the Cebu International Film Festival as well as a strong candidate in the Animation category. Truly, Hex Production Studios has shown that JRU students have what it takes to be on par with both local and international standards. The Rizalians who made Guhit possible are Dionisio Bacudio III, Ramil Bolalin, Ezra Mae Jupia, and Patrick Jean Ramos under the guidance of their Mentor-Tech advisor Paul Gilbert Maglaya.
As a matter of fact, The Collector also bagged multiple awards such as Animahenasyon 16 1st Place in Audience Choice Award, Best in Technical Nomination, Best in Storytelling Nomination, and Grand Prize Nomination in 2022 hosted by the Animation Council of the Philippines, Inc. During the same year, they also won EMC Grand Festival People’s Choice Award at our very own Jose Rizal University while in March 2023, they also brought home the Manila Student Film Festival 2023 Audience Choice Award from the International School Manila. Such honor brought by Cool2 Studio was only possible with the team behind it namely Gerry Garcia, Austine Leigh Abedejos, Elvin Matthew Nido, Creshane Zaslove Pausal, and
Jong Won Teves with the support of their Mentor-Tech Adviser Neil Joshua Carmelo Realubit.
“Studying animation at the university has been helpful for us because through the courses, we were able to grasp the fundamentals of filmmaking, not only in 3D but also in screenwriting, sound production, video editing, and asset production,” Garcia remarked. “[JRU] helped a lot that’s why we included some cameos of our professors as a tribute for the help that they gave us,” said Bacudio when asked about his experience in studying animation at Jose Rizal University. He even added that the feedback on Guhit was so positive to the point of wanting their group to make another film that we could look forward to in the future. Furthermore, Garcia also added with a fully grateful heart that the love and support of the audience were enough compliments to their delight. He commented, “we were able to create something original from all the things we have learned at the university.” Director of The Collector, Garcia admitted, “it has been a tough journey for us but my teammates did not falter. Their passion to create still prevailed despite the challenges.”
With all these said and done, does Rizal need to be resurrected to address today’s socio-economic troubles, especially those that arose amidst pandemic? Not at all! We are Rizalians and the hope to enlighten others is already within us. Like Hex Production Studios and Cool2 Studios who spent hours toiling in front of their desks, drawing the truth of our society’s reality, and imparting inspiration and motivation to keep moving forward, it is now our turn to keep the hope and trudge towards the success that we can all achieve through deeper understanding and higher education. As Bacudio would put it, “continue believing in yourself and things will fall right into place.”