Spycat: Behind the Scenes! Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 of our Spycat retrospective! For our final trip into the Spycat archives, take out your magnifying glass and join us in scrutinising the film for Easter eggs, blink-and-you-miss-its and other oddities of an inane nature.

There are spoilers in this post, so you might want to give this a miss if you haven’t seen Spycat yet. As for the rest of us (or if you simply can’t resist), keep scrolling down!

Spycat’s title sequence was inspired by the classic James Bond gun barrel introduction sequence. You can watch every introduction from Dr. No (1962) to Casino Royale (2006) here.

We’re in Ashley’s bedroom! (1) Ashley named Spycat ‘Oreo’ because his black and white fur reminds her of the world-famous cookie. (2) Some of you might recognise Ashley’s doll as the Grim Reaper from Darren Lim’s first animated short film, Mystery (2009). You can watch Mystery here. (3) A picture of the Titanic hangs on a wall outside Ashley’s bedroom! In Mystery, the same picture stands on a bookcase in Oldman’s living room.

Spycat isn’t really the fat cat that Ashley thinks he is! In reality, Spycat uses a fat-suit to disguise his true identity as a secret agent for F.E.L.I.N.E. (that’s the Federal Espionage League for Inter-National Emergencies). While skydiving down to his secret lair, Spycat tugs on his collar to release the fat-suit. All this happens while Spycat is conveniently obscured behind a large pipe, so as far as explanations go we’ll leave it as that, folks!

Spycat strikes a Terminator pose when he lands in his secret lair.

Honeycat’s not in her office at the moment, so let’s take the opportunity to snoop around! (1) More objects from Mystery make a cameo appearance in Honeycat’s office! This potted plant has undergone a palette swap and grown somewhat since its days in Oldman’s living room. (2) Oldman’s kitchen clock, with a palette swap. It’s slightly after 10.30pm. (3) Honeycat and Oldman have the same candlestick phone. This type of phone was used at the turn of the 20th century. (4) Raccoony, a cartoon character created by Darren Lim and his brother, Derrick Lim, when they were children.

Given the film’s graphic, flat-shaded style, it may come as a surprise to you that both 2D and 3D elements are used in the construction of sets and props! In this example, objects created as flat images in Adobe Photoshop are outlined in yellow, while objects that have been modelled and rendered out from Autodesk Maya are outlined in blue. In general, objects that require stricter conformity to perspective are created in 3D.

Observant viewers would have realised from Captain Chico’s mugshots that Captain Chico doesn’t like cats (1) and is vertically-challenged (2)!

In the film, Captain Chico steals martial arts manuals from somewhere near the Great Wall of China! But without bionic eyes, you can’t possibly make out what the martial arts manuals say.

So here we are with a close-up! The text is written in Chinese seal script, or ‘zhuànshū’ (篆书). The title (1) is the Chinese translation of ‘Spycat’ – ‘Shéntànmāo’ (神探猫). The seal (2) reads ‘2011’, the year that Spycat and the Paper Chase was released.

Captain Chico pillages Paris for posters. But just who is featured on those posters?

Why, it’s BooBoo from Soh Yu Xian’s film, BooBoo the TV Fan (2009)! It seems like BooBoo has gone on to become a circus star! ‘BouBou l’Oiseau’ is French for ‘BooBoo the Bird’. You can watch the film here.

Timbuktu is a town in the West African nation of Mali, where French is the official language and toilet paper isn’t safe from the clutches of Captain Chico! The sign reads ‘Bienvenue à Tombouctou’, which is French for ‘Welcome to Timbuktu’.

Notice the weapon rack in the background? Find the top weapon (1) familiar? Go check out the second-to-last image in Week 2 of our retrospective. Yes, it’s ‘The Sniperist of Gunshooters’! And of course, the Catplunger (2) and Catoculars (3) feature later on in the film.

This Spycat scene transition is a homage to the one used in the 1960s Batman television series. You can see the original transition here.

We’ve watched Spycat and the Paper Chase hundreds of times, but we’re sure that you haven’t! Take a look at what your eyes missed in Spycat’s visit to Tokyo. Do click on the image to view a larger version!
1-10
(1) Gachapon Girl is an animated film created by Tan Kwang Yang, Chua Eng Chee, Nathan Adianta and Tan Hong Jin. They were our schoolmates at the School of Art, Design & Media. You can check out the Gachapon Girl website here. The film is currently showing at Art Garden 2012 at the Singapore Art Museum, which runs from 18 May to 12 August 2012. You can find more details on show times here. Spycat makes a cameo appearance in Gachapon Girl, so keep a lookout for him! (2) ‘Unagi’ (うなぎ) is Japanese for ‘freshwater eel’. (3) ‘Uniglo’ is a parody of ‘Uniqlo’, a Japanese casualwear brand. (4) ‘Udon’ (うどん) is a type of Japanese wheat-flour noodle. (5) Spycat flies over Tokyo in his Catjet. (6) The character ‘To’ (東) means ‘east’ in Japanese. This is also the ‘To’ in ‘Tokyo’ (東京), which translates into ‘eastern capital’ in English. (7) Tokyo Hotel is a parody of German rock band ‘Tokio Hotel’. (8) A character created by Fung Chun Hong, named Akaru (あかる). (9) ‘Yoshida’ is a parody of ‘Toshiba’, a Japanese manufacturer of electronic products. (10) ‘Hachiko’ (ハチ公) was a Japanese dog who is remembered for his unwavering loyalty to his master, even after his master’s death.
11-20
(11) ‘Omuraisu’ (オムライス) is a type of Japanese omelette rice. (12) This duck robot is a character created by Derwin Silamaya Suhali. He is saying ‘Power!’ (パワー!) in Japanese. (13) The purple billboard reads ‘GameStation’, a parody of ‘PlayStation’, a videogame console from Sony Computer Entertainment. (14) This white and green panel features a silhouette of Japan and the characters ‘Nippon’ (日本), which is Japanese for ‘Japan’. (15) ‘Ramen’ (ラーメン) is a Japanese noodle dish. (16) ‘Okonomiyaki’ (お好み焼き) is a Japanese savoury pancake with mixed ingredients. The text in the purple bar is too small to read, but it says ‘They become sweet kisses on your mouth… good day will follow after!’ A phone number is also provided (03-1234-5678). We don’t recommend that you call this number asking for okonomiyaki. (17) ‘Caldee’ is a parody of ‘Calbee’, a Japanese maker of snacks. (18) ‘Donburi’ (丼ぶり) is Japanese for ‘rice bowl dish’. (19) ‘Tonic’ is a parody of ‘Sonic’, the main character from the Sonic the Hedgehog videogame series. (20) Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan.
21-30
(21) ‘Mega’ is a parody of ‘Sega’, a Japanese videogame developer. (22) ‘Okutopashi’ (オクトパシー) is the Japanese title for the James Bond film, Octopussy (1983). (23) ‘Marco’ is a parody of ‘Namco’, a Japanese videogame developer that merged with Bandai to form the Bandai Namco Group. (24) ‘Zone’ is a reference to the levels (zones) in Sonic the Hedgehog games. (25) ‘Virtual’ is a reference to Virtua Fighter, a fighting game series. (26) ‘Chahan’ (チャーハン) is Japanese for ‘fried rice’. (27) ‘Vii’ is a parody of ‘Wii’, a videogame console from Nintendo. (28) ‘Pritz’ is a parody of ‘Pretz’, a Japanese snack from Ezaki Glico. (29) Mochi (餅) is a Japanese glutinous rice cake. (30) ‘Jigusopazuru’ (ジグソーパズル) is Japanese for ‘jigsaw puzzle’.
31-40
(31) ‘Macpan’ is parody of ‘Pac-Man’, an arcade game by Namco. (32) Tokyo Tower, a communications and observation tower. (33) ‘Devilzilla’ is a parody of ‘Godzilla’, a famous Japanese movie monster. (34) ‘Studio Jiggly’ is a parody of ‘Studio Ghibli’, a Japanese animation studio. (35) ‘NED’ is a parody of ‘NEC’, a Japanese IT company. (36) ‘Pony’ is a parody of ‘Sony’, a Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate. (37) ‘Tempura’ (天麩羅) is a Japanese dish of deep-fried battered seafood or vegetables. (38) ‘Conga’ is a parody of ‘Honda’, a Japanese manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles. (39) ‘Toycar’ is a parody of ‘Toyota’, a Japanese manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles. (40) ‘Picaro Sweet’ is a parody of ‘Pocari Sweat’, a Japanese sports drink.
41-44
(41) ‘Korokke’ (コロッケ) is a Japanese potato croquette. (42) ‘Karepan’ (カレーパン) is Japanese for ‘curry bread’. (43) ‘Chawanmushi’ (茶碗蒸し) is a Japanese egg custard. (44) ‘Rocky’ is a parody of ‘Pocky’, a Japanese snack from Ezaki Glico.

Captain Chico’s airship is huge and really attention-grabbing! You probably missed the following things in the background… (1) It’s 8am in Tokyo! (2) ‘007 Wa ni-do shinu’ (007は二度死ぬ) is the Japanese title for the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice (1967). (3) Tokyo City Hall.

Some of you have wondered where the Catjet goes to after Spycat infiltrates Captain Chico’s airship. It is not explicitly stated, but our official explanation is that the Catjet was programmed to return to Spycat’s base.

Spycat is surrounded by Dogbots in Captain Chico’s hangar! Attentive viewers would probably have noticed at this point that the Dogbots have power switches (1).

We’ve arrived in Captain Chico’s engine room. Have you ever wondered what the small blue screen displays?

It’s ‘Chiconet’, Captain Chico’s navigational system!

This giant metal claw feeds the engine room furnace with paper that Captain Chico has stolen! The ‘DOG’ logo on the claw is a parody of Caterpillar Inc.’s ‘CAT’ logo.

Captain Chico: I’m using paper as fuel!
Spycat: Wait a minute… that can’t be right!
Let’s take a closer look at Spycat’s Science for Sillies book!

 

It seems like Spycat’s secret identity isn’t quite so secret after all! Captain Chico has been keeping tabs on Spycat through Ashley’s Spacebook (1) profile. We learn that Ashley’s last name is Weston (2), but it seems we’ll never know how Ashley looks like (3)… or do we already have an idea? You might want to check out Version 1 of the Spycat animatic, which can be found in Week 3 of our Spycat retrospective. It’s the only version of the Spycat animatic that shows Ashley in full!

Captain Chico strikes again with his dodgy engineering and quack science! How on earth did he manage to construct a magnet that attracts paper (1)? We may never know.

Why does Captain Chico insist on placing switches in places he can’t reach easily? This stack of cardboard cartons proves to be his downfall. If you’d like to know what used to be in these cartons, well, here they are! We’ve got pears (1), dishwashing liquid (2), someone’s parcel (3) and a sound system (4).

Despite his bad design and poor planning, Captain Chico actually remembered to build an emergency exit (1) out of the engine room! Spycat also chances on a Japanese yakko kite (2) that is instrumental to his escape from the self-destructing airship.

The view over Spycat’s city as he descends from the sky. The sun is rising, and it’s 5 minutes to 7 o’clock!

Was it all a dream? We’ve listened to theories that the events of Spycat and the Paper Chase are the dreams of a bored cat who wants more out of life, or figments of Ashley’s over-active imagination. While we recognise these as valid readings of the film, it was never our intention to be philosophical. As far as we’re concerned, everything in Spycat really happened, so don’t overthink things!

We hope you stayed till the end of the credits! Captain Chico survived the explosion, but we’re not too sure he appreciates the hundreds of paper cuts he now has all over his body! Spycat may have saved the day by stopping Captain Chico’s rampage, but one wonders how much of the world’s paper was destroyed in the process…

That’s the end of our Spycat retrospective!

Before we say goodbye (for now), we would like to take this opportunity to answer two questions that we’ve been asked many, many times over the past year.

Q: Will Spycat ever be released online?

A: We’ve planned a 2-year-long run in the film festival circuit. Since many film festivals don’t accept films that are available for public viewing on the Internet, we can’t put it online just yet. There is also the off chance that Spycat is picked up for commercial distribution, which is yet another reason to keep things off the web.

If our film festival run ends on schedule without any surprises, Spycat will be uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo by July 2013 for all to enjoy.

Q: Will there be a sequel to Spycat?

A: Well, never say never!

We’ve had a very positive and encouraging response from our viewers, especially children! We’re convinced that there’s something special with the Spycat concept and we’re definitely not finished with it yet.

With that said, there are no immediate plans for a sequel.

Now that we’ve graduated and moved on with our professional lives, it is highly unlikely that all four of us will reunite to work on another Spycat film. If Spycat does return, it may not be in the form of another short film, or even with the exact same team. We’re keeping our options open for now.

That doesn’t mean that nothing’s ever been done in the way of a sequel! Check back regularly (or ‘Like’ us on Facebook to get post alerts!), because we’ll be releasing some really interesting stuff about that soon. You haven’t seen the last of Spycat!

Thank you for joining us! Keep following us as we enter Spycat’s second year!

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