Cebu-born animator co-directs 'Ice Age: Collision Course'

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippines once again swells with pride as a Cebu-born animator co-directs the latest installment of one of the most popular animated movie franchises today, Ice Age.

Galen Tan Chu co-directed with Mike Thurmeier Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth installment of the Ice Age series. He also worked in the animation department of several movies like Horton Hears a Who! and Rio.

“It’s a really phenomenal experience,” Chu said in an interview with CNN Philippines last Friday. “You get to be involved in the process – writing, the creation of the animation, the story of the movie. It’s really great to be able to have that much creative input in the process.”

The animator said that the latest installment is the biggest one yet, drawing inspiration from a scene from the first movie in the series.

“There was a moment in the first Ice Age where they walk past an ice museum, and they come upon a spaceship that’s encased in ice. And so at t­­he beginning of this movie, Scrat’s going to find that very same ship,” added Chu.

Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel, who is a staple in the series, is usually responsible for triggering cataclysmic events that lead to the adventures of the main characters.

The director said that animation has always been his passion and is thankful that his parents supported his decision to pursue it.

“I decided to go into art school, thinking I would be a 2D animator. This was right around the time when they were able to make full-feature animation films like Toy Story or Jurassic Park,” explained Chu.

After graduating, Chu began looking for a job. At the same time, Blue Sky Studios, the producer of the film, was searching for animators.

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“So they hired me, knowing that I don’t really have that much computer animation experience,” he said. “But it didn’t really matter because as long as you know how to animate, it’s kind of the same thing.”

Chu said he keeps in touch with his relatives and talks to them regularly. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to visit anytime soon.

"I just had a child. She's one year-old now and it's a little hard to travel. I'll probably visit in a little bit, but not just yet," added Chu.

Having spent the first 10 years of his life here, the 40-year-old said he still has a lot of vivid memories of the Philippines. Among the things he said he misses the most about his home country are the beaches.

“The beautiful beaches – my family really loved going to the beach on weekends,” said Chu. “I really miss lechon because you really just can’t get good lechon anywhere else here. I tried, trust me.”

The director also said that he misses the Sinulog Festival which was a big event for Cebuanos like him.

“I really miss seeing the dancers and the costumes,” Chu said.

And whether this will be the last movie of the franchise: “We’ll see how this one does. If the audience really embraces it, if they love the characters like they have in this franchise, we’re open to creating new ones.”

Ice Age: Collision Course opens in theaters Wednesday, July 6.