Production Journal - 13 - APK

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Every production has a grey phase and mine was not an exception. One of these days I decided to cheer myself and the team up and took some of my massage gadgets to the studio. Animators suffer from a lot of back, shoulder and hand pain. I'm aware that this is not a unique problem reserved to animators but it's only animators who are able to think of something called a storyboard and eventually come up with the idea of something magic to relieve their pain. It took me a few months to attract other animators' attention to these objects that really do magic.

Now that I'm documenting these lines, those objects are in a box at home because I moved out my stuff from the production studio. Their six-month séjour at a studio full of animators and the interactions they evoked, proved us that there is an actual need for this kit in any animation studio. Also I encourage every animator to equip him/herself with a small suitcase of at least three pieces of these tools. 

I'll be more than happy to discuss the instruction of this must-have package which is branded as: 

Animator's Pleasure Kit

 

BTW, me and Kathleen decided to make a promotional video for this brilliant idea. Due to lack of energy and the urgent need to finish the animation of "Une visite", I can only present you a sketch of the storyboard. For this episode, we chose the finger massage tool which is named Finger by finger.

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Production Journal - Twelve - Post production

Post production of "Une visite" was clicked on the 21st of August. This phase which is still in progress is supported by the National Film Board of Canada thanks to the ACIC program (Aide au cinéma independant). 

Production Journal- Eleven- New members

During the spring 2017, Kathleen's mission on this project reached to an end and "Une visite" welcomed Ehsan Gharib for a few weeks to help with some last-minute inking. Ehsan is an animation filmmaker, photographer and a great compositor. He joined our team right after finishing his film DEYZANGEROO.

A month later, Elise Simard joined us and we started the final phase of the image creation, the compositing. Elise is also a filmmaker I know from long time ago through the NFB. She is a visual magician and was the first option I had in mind for this phase of project.  We started experimenting with the footage we had and it took us a bit of time to get to a visual recipe for the film. The photos I've taken from the paper-photo sets to create the city's visuals had a sharp digital finish which wasn't the look I was looking for. It took us a long time to take away this clean layer and make these images fit with the interior scenes which were all done by hand-drawn animation. Elise was also joining us right after finishing her latest film Beautiful like elsewhere

Kathleen's last evening on "Une visite"

Ehsan 

Elise 

Lori's POV- Elise and Parissa

Production Journal- Ten- End of the years

For celebrating the end of 2016 and 1395, we decided to turn some of the project's scrap paper into sketch books and give them to each other as presents. 

Production Journal- Nine- Characters beyond this visit

Although I was the one who designed the characters of "Une visite", I realized was the least flexible about their alternative life and the potentials they had outside this story. I always drew them as they were supposed to appear in specific scenes. No other life beyond that was of any interest to me. The animation team's approach was more dynamic though.

Production Journal- Eight- Ottawa Animation Festival

The end of September is Ottawa time. We decided to arrange a trip to the Ottawa animation festival. A weekend full of cinema time and conversations about movies. When you talk about cinema around food and drink, the conversation gets mixed with life, no matter how hard you try to make it otherwise.  That's what movies are about and that's what I like about attending festivals with good company. 

On the last day, we had a brunch with animator friends at the Ottawa market, and we took our last walk before heading back to Montreal. If you go to a bazar you'll find all kinds of characters you need for your story. Sometimes you don't need any more characters for your film, but the characters you already have fade into the crowd and remind you of what you need to do when you get back home. During the last moments of this trip I saw the phantom of the woman in my film at the Ottawa market. She was moving in the wind in her long floral dress.

 

 

Production Journal- Seven- Lori

In September 2016, I had my first post-production meeting with Ottoblix, and that opened my eyes to the amount of inking and masking and coloration needed for this film. Both characters have an open form which make this process even more elaborate. I fully underestimated this step when we were planning the production. This revelation made me decide to clean the white table in the middle of the space and prepare it to welcome the new member of the team, Lori Malépart-Traversy

Lori is a talented animation filmmaker and a wonderful woman I got a chance to know thanks to this project. Our first meeting was very brief and easy and we simply talked about inking and masking images. As we moved along she got involved more and more in the film and helped me establish a solid workflow for the production and image process. Her particular attention to detail and her discipline took a heavy load of work and worries off my shoulder. She became a hand I was missing! 

Now that I'm writing this post, her film "Le clitoris" is going viral all over the world. If you haven't watched it yet then click on this link and

Bon Film! :

LE CLITORIS

 

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Production Journal- Five- Playing with Tehran

One of my passions is observing and playing with images of supposedly ugly buildings in cities. I take photos of them, and then modify the details. Then I arrange them in different backgrounds and I mix these elements with other urban environments taken from elsewhere. These imaginary cities and compositions don't exist in reality but they are very believable. The best buildings for this type of project are those that are not aesthetically significant, those that are not necessarily ugly but there is minimal design thought behind their existence. They are invisible. 

Tehran is a good city for this kind of observation, as it is full of buildings which have been built based on pure personal taste. I'm writing down two moments that inspired me at that phase. Though they seem very irrelevant to each other, they played important roles in the way I treated the city I designed for my film. 

An on-site, daily observation:

Two years ago, when I was working on this pictures, my family decided to go for a full renovation of their apartment.  In the evening my father used to visit the site, sometimes alone and sometimes accompanied by a neighbour. Based on the neighbour's taste the design could have comletely changed. The morning after, my father, convinced by Mr. neighbour's arguments, would convince the contractor to demolish a newly constructed wall and remount  it a couple of meters further back. This conversational, community based design, pictures a dynamic that exists behind the construction of a lot of neighbourhoods and a lot of residential buildings in Tehran. I call it chit-chat architecture. 

An artistic observation - Museum style:

While I was documenting visuals  in Tehran, I went to an artist talk with Nicolas Grospierre, a swiss artist who was invited by the New media society. His talk was among other things about a series of photos created by him using segments of photos from buildings which existed in reality.  the subtly recreated buildings in his photos which dont exist in reality were manifestations of his critisism of modernism in architecture. 

This article resumes well his approach in his projects:

http://www.grospierre.art.pl

 

Production Journal- Four- Monasterial days

In the beginning of production, Kathleen and I were sharing the space with another production team who were working on a feature animation. Even if we were a good number of animators, the big room with wooden floors sounded like a monastery of pleasant silence. Although I had a clear idea of the story and scenes, I was giving myself the freedom to restructure the scenes and interactions if needed, and this ambiance was giving me a perfect mix of energy  and concentration.  

Recently, I was looking back at the notes and images I kept from this phase of the project. The first few months of production coincided with a friend's wedding. Some of us decided to recite her some poems using old text books. The result seems to me  a loyal reflection of my state of mind in those days. 

 

Production Journal- Three-Kathleen

In 2014, I watched a series of Hothouse one-minute animations, produced by the NFB. One of the films of this series stuck in my mind : « The Midway ». 

This short animation followed a group of children on a roller coaster ride. They eventually came down from the ride somewhere further, on a beach, as elderlies. The drawings were made using graphite pencil. Children in this film were treated like adults but in smaller scale. This was something I was looking for in my film. I later saw a "making of" of this project in which the director described her use of models for the background of the film and the roller coaster movement, something I was curious to develop more in my future project. For all these reasons, I came out of the theatre feeling that this director would contribute a lot to my film if one day I get to the production phase.  Later I spotted Kathleen in the corridors of the NFB, but we never got a chance to talk.

A year after that corridor encounter, I served the director of « The Miday » and her mom some coffee and small pastries at a cafe where I was working.  I was still waiting for my film’s funding to be finalized. 


Another twelve months passed and I met Kathleen again at a party. I finally felt ready to talk about my project and to invite her to join my team. When I felt that she was interested in knowing more about the film, a heavy weight was taken off my shoulders. This phase of choosing the first animator took me too long as I didn't have enough confidence in what I felt was the right thing for the film. I also wanted to be too ready before I started working with an animator. Having had more guts those days, I would have taken this decision much earlier and would have been able to start production a few months earlier.

The official beginning of production was clicked in the beginning of July 2016. 

Production Journal-Two- Pre-production life

Between 2013 and 2015, I developed the project and I looked for different sources of funding for the film. I knew by then that the solitary animation production style which I used to love wouldn't work for this film. I used to study theatre before, where we could hardly imagine working on a project alone from the beginning to the end.  I now wanted to experience real teamwork again. This entailed finding funding for a team, which took me two years. 

During this time, I worked on some other projects, notably one that changed my path not only because of the things I learned, but also because of the people I got to know.  Claude Cloutier’s film « Autos-portraits »  which was produced by Julie Roy at the National film board of Canada offered me an occasion to work and talk with people who were among the best in their field. No wonder, more than half of my collaborators for « Une visite » are people I spotted and friendships I’ve made during this time. 

In 2015, I started working on the pre-production of the film on my own for a while. I knew by now that the two characters had to be created using two different materials and two different techniques for animation.

I decided to do some tests with myself to eventually hire an actress for the role of the Woman. I tried to make this actress as close as I imagined her in my initial drawings. This was the beginning of animation phase in the film as my first tests were finally used in the film and I decided to play the Woman myself. 

 


   

Production Journal- One-Editing with paper

In 2015, I started  preproduction of the film. I did some animation tests and I also worked on a more elaborate version of the storyboard. It was during this step that I met Shahab, my editor. We worked for a while with pieces of papers filled with my abstract images. To start, we mainly worked on the structure of the scenes and the actions. We somehow rewrote the story using these images.