Film student’s graphic novel wins top prize at Young Creatives Challenge

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Film student�s graphic novel wins top prize at Young Creatives Challenge
Sanny (second from left) with (from left) graphic novel category finalists Edoy, fifth place; Artofjhndvpt, ninth place; Rico Magallona, second runner-up; Nuno, first runner-up; and Obura, third runner-up.
STAR / File

Film student Sanny Villafranca entered his work, The Girl and The Tamaraw, in the graphic novel category of the recently concluded Young Creatives Challenge (YC2). As you can guess, he eventually scored the top prize.

The STAR had an e-mail interview with YC2 grand winner Sanny, who initially shared his motivation for joining such a competition that celebrates the Filipino youth’s creativity in the areas of animation, game development, graphic novel, online content creation, screenwriting, and songwriting.

“It was conceptualized during my workshop with direk Surf Reyes, who was actively involved in NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) at that time,” recalled he of how The Girl and The Tamaraw came into being, “and it inspired me to explore the ethnic and cultural richness of our country.”

Sanny Villafranca’s The Girl and The Tamaraw is the grand winner in the graphic novel category of Young Creatives Challenge (YC2). Through his work, he wants to raise awareness for the protection of endangered species in the country and their natural habitat, and ‘showcase how culturally rich our nation is,’ he says. On the qualities of the graphic novel that won the judges’ nod, Sanny shares, ‘Possibly, the well-researched concept and engaging story make it a winner.’

“At first, I simply wanted to explore the opportunity because I believed that there was no other competition in the country that could offer the same level of prestige and prize money in the field of graphic novel,” added he.

In a media statement, Sanny revealed that the Indigenous Peoples and the Tamaraws were his sources of inspiration. He shared that creatives like him narrate stories “with the purpose of effecting change or inspiring it.”

With Sen. Imee Marcos.

“My aim is to raise awareness for the protection of our endangered species and their natural habitat, and to showcase how culturally rich our nation is,” said he.

Asked about the qualities of his graphic novel that he thought won the judges’ nod, Sanny answered, “Possibly, the well-researched concept and engaging story make it a winner. The story of The Girl and The Tamaraw promotes awareness and celebrates our culture. I believe it could also reach a wider audience, especially the younger generation. One of the judges told me after the competition that their decision might be unanimous and that I really deserved the win.”

As for what he enjoys in creating a graphic novel, plus the affordances of within-reach technologies and applications to further explore the art form, Sanny said, “I enjoy creating (a) graphic novel because it combines storytelling and visual art. I prefer starting conventionally with sketching before exploring digital applications for editing and enhancing. Using both traditional and digital tools allows me to fully explore my creativity in this art form.”

Since he is a student at the Asia Pacific Film Institute, Sanny was also asked if he had an entry in YC2’s film-related category.

“Although I would have liked to enter another category, each person (was) limited to entering only one category. Therefore, I chose (the) graphic novel,” said he.

What kind of film — from animation and narrative to documentary — is he into?

“I am dedicated to discovering my own unique voice as a director, fueled by a strong passion for storytelling that pushes boundaries and explores the intricacies of human nature. Through projects like my graphic novel, The Girl and The Tamaraw, and my Web series ‘Win Jaime’s Heart,’ I aim to provoke discussions on love, prejudice, and the complexities of morality. As I eagerly anticipate the premiere of my silent short film, ‘Black Lady,’ featuring Elora Españo at the Chicago Horror Film Festival, I am determined to craft thought-provoking narratives that challenge and inspire viewers on a global scale.”

According to his publicity team, Sanny works as an account director at an advertising agency, and oversees Sanny Istudyo Productions. His YC2 win is also an inspiring tale since Sanny is a person with a disability. He doesn’t allow his hearing impairment to limit his ability to pursue his passion for the arts and expand his creative horizons.

Where is art in his life?

“Since I was a child, I have always had a love for storytelling in any form. With the demands and hectic schedule of the advertising industry, I decided to establish Sanny Istudyo Productions as a creative outlet for my passions in acting, music, and visual storytelling,” replied he.

“It has also become a source of comfort for me, especially since I have lost both of my parents,” concluded Sanny.

(YC2 was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry [DTI] with the support of Sen. Imee Marcos and the Philippine Creative Industry Development Act [PCIDA].)

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