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. 

Production journal- Zero

This week we start the compositing of Une Visite. As the project is now taking shape, I can step back from my daily struggles with the form and structure of the film. I'll review the steps which led me to this point. I'll start from the very beginning way back in 2012. 

“Une visite” is a story based on a childhood interaction I had with a very dear family member of mine. The reason I started writing this script was specifically to participate in a contest organized by SODEC, because I used to love participating in contests. It was late 2012.  

This project was chosen among the finalists, and I started working on the script with a group of six filmmakers and six mentors. My scriptwriting mentor at this stage was Marie-France Landry. 

This contest was the beginning of a long project which led me to the production of this film in 2016. 

 

 

 SODEC screenwriting Workshop teammates, 2012

SODEC screenwriting Workshop teammates, 2012

 First presentation of the project Une Visite

First presentation of the project Une Visite

Production moment 2- CITY

Working on my film project and the role of the city, I came across the book Film and the City: The Urban Imaginary in Canadian Cinema, written by George Melnyk which is by far the best writing I’ve found on this subject. 

Having lived in Montreal for the last 11 years, I’m still lacking convincing words or images to talk about this fascinating topic. I was having such a hard time explaining the role of the city in my film and my fascination about its presence in my projects that it became a serious subject of study for me. How I see a city and how I’m trying to get it more and more integrated as a character in my projects is something that I have already started exploring in my previous projects « Où ai-je déjà vu cela? » and « Autour d’une table ». I’m trying to raise the city to the role of main character in my in-production short animation film « Une Visite ».  

Cities in the eyes of some societies were a place where people could find freedom, versus the rural areas which had rigorous social structures and traditions. For a Canadian, the city was the first place where the authorities were established and so you would have moved out of the city to the country to find the freedom you were looking for. These notions have been changed in different ways throughout history but their effects are present in the unconscious of a society. 

How Canadian cities are pictured in its cinema is what I’ve been reading about and looking for in Canadian films this last year. 

My approach to this subject is mostly an effort to create a city that is undeniably inspired by cities I know more. This city doesn’t exist in reality; it is nothing but a collage of pictures and sound ideas I have collected the last three years from Tehran, Montreal and Toronto. It’s a playful experimentation and deconstruction of what has strongly formed my identity: My Long walks and observations in Cities.    

 

 

 

 

Production moment (1)

Animating « goodbye and welcome » moments between three characters in a one-shot scene is by now the most challenging scene of this film. Scene number 11 is at the beginning of the film; the first time we encounter the characters and the only time we see three of them together. Fifty seconds of simple routine interaction between three women seems banal but is actually very hard to choreograph and animate. We pass through these daily moments without ever thinking of the mechanism of these behaviours.

Scene 11- Test for two characters- Layers through the light table 

Working on the layout and key frames of scene number 11 reminded me of a teenage moment when I refused to kiss back. I was in high school and was supposed to receive a prize from the principle of our school. I picked the prize and it was the moment to kiss the woman I was convinced was not a great fan of me. In a blink of a second I decided to jump back and escape the kiss. My friend’s mother who was sitting in the crowd found it kind of funny but nobody else shared her idea. Having a hard time animating this scene, I started wondering whether that could have been a good decision to go for that hug and kiss on the scene just to feel that experience. These days I’m wondering what has happened to that kiss and a lot of other kisses I missed because it seemed to be another banal moment, worthless of sparing time for. Filtering your moments through the eyes of an animator makes you understand the importance of each fraction of a second. Animating this scene made me observe a moment that I often rejected, who knows why: The fabulous heat of a hug and kiss between two women, in a pure Iranian style.

Welcome to my renovated online life

After a long online hibernation, I'm back with my new website. I decided to renew it and integrate and upload my previous posts from my blog here. Sorry if the older posts are not very nicely fit into the page.

After returning from my long trip to Tehran, in 2015, I gradually started working on the production of my next animation film "Une visite/ A visit".  I also did some other collaborations during the previous months that I will document peu à peu. 

As the production of this animation film has been and will be a long journey, I decided to write down my journal. These notes are mainly what I explore in my studio while working on this project and are neither chronological nor directly related to this specific film. This project is a pretext for me to read, study and reflect on the moving image. 

My famous catchphrase: "On va voir!" 

We'll see! 

 

 

Goodbye mon Porto Leone!







Last month was full of changes. It was a fusion of here and there. A true Porto Leone!  

Voila a brief visual update of my life since the beginning of spring: 










March 21st 2015- Farvardin 1st 1394 


Celebrating Iranian new year in white snowy Montreal among our home-made green sprouts. 


Eventually, I had to say Goodbye to flamenco and my dance-mates. "Bye! I'm leaving for a while! See you soon!", I shouted as loud as I could. Once again I was shocked to realize that more than half of them had never heard my voice before.












My last nights in Montreal were full of young, beautiful, marching girls and boys with red roses in hand marching and chanting side by side the police. It might look surreal but that's how this city lives. My last mission was to give an orange lipstick to my friend : a magical night with "Lady danger" on strike. 


My first mission in Tehran was to look for a book I had been dreaming of getting for a long while. A book I tried to read in French a few times before I surrendered. The Persian(Farsi) version of this book is sold but only via black market: Which means you can buy it but at least twice the regular price. So I preferred to pay half the price and buy it in its English version in Tehran. Now,would I be able to unlock this mystery and fully read "The name of the rose"?


Sometimes a serious, philosophical conversation in a café is enough to reboot your mind and get you through jet lag in the blink of an eye: "You can't read a worm's mind as a worm is unable to read your feelings!". 



If you walk in my neighborhood in the early afternoon, the chance that you meet a cat is much much higher than spotting a human being. These guardian cats look tough at first sight. They sit down in very strategic spots all around the neighbourhood. I often try to find a shortcut not to bother them or I just stand far away and look at them, watching their terittory. Soon after,  they give their back a sexy curl and gently start walking away from me. All of a sudden, these harsh, tough-looking dudes  become the most beautiful, seductive creatures in the world. Isn't that why I love movement so much?  Isn't that why I partnered my life with Animation



Back in Tehran means back to my old project: "Le foot stories!".


















A random sketch - too hard to translate! 

But,  

for the next few months: a new film to start and thousands of white pages to ink and draw!  

To be continued! 

     

The ramparts of Warsaw 1943-1944/ Les remparts de Varsovie 1943-1944

A few months ago, I finished a collaboration with André Bossuroy for three animated segments as part of the documentary: "Les remparts de Varsovie 1943-1944/ The ramparts of Warsaw 1943-1944"

This documentary was shown on ARTE, on the day of the Warsaw insurrection. 


To watch the animated segments click on the images below: 

Animation-Part1

Animation-Part2

Animation-Part3

"1st August 1944. Nearly two months after the Allies land in Normandy, the young people of Poland rise up in Warsaw to free themselves from the Nazi yoke. Betrayed by Stalin who is encamped, weapons at hand, on the far bank of the Vistula the Polish Resistance one of the strongest in Europe with its Home Army the Armia Krajowa faces the world’s most powerful army alone.

Three young Europeans, Alexandra (France), Maria (Poland) and Roman (Germany), meet in Warsaw to enquire into these events; here they meet witnesses who took part in the Warsaw Uprising or lived in the ghetto. Beneath their white hair we can recognise the men and women who formed the living ramparts of freedom in the face of Nazism. They were between 12 and 20 years old at the time."

To watch the full documentary follow the link below: 
at-home-in-europe.tv/blog/remembrance/

Credits

A film by ANDRE BOSSUROY
Reporters: Alexandra JASTRZEBSKA, Maria Kinga ZIELINSKA, Roman KROKE
Animation: Parissa MOHIT
Music: Florian SERAUL
Production: MEDIEL with the support from the Programme Europe for citizens Active European Remembrance from the European Commission

Belgium, 2014


"Like a pig in Tehran" at Café Aunja

poster designed by "Amir Saboury"


Tonight is the opening of an expo of my daily visual sketchbook at café Aunja.

One year ago in the busy, crazy metro of Tehran, I decided to write down what I was hearing around me. It was too interesting to be forgotten. I started to draw and to write a few words as captions for each image. I posted them on my instagram as it seemed to be very fashionable in Tehran.  As I didn't know anyone on this platform I let myself free to write what I wanted. A few weeks after I came back to Montreal and I started a new job.  After nine years of living here, Montreal for me is still a city to discover, a society to de-code. Montreal is full of hidden stories which are not easy to see or to hear. People talk less but if you succeed to read their minds, they have a lot to surprise you. Montreal's silence makes me ponder, think and take my time to observe. This is a gift I will take away with myself to wherever I go.

These drawing were originally accompanied by texts in Farsi. I'm happy to get a chance to translate 46 of them in French and English.  A lot of concepts and ideas I had in the original texts are not translatable. So a lot of texts are way too different in the English and French versions. At the end they are different ways of telling the same stories. I'm now very curious to see how it will work.

These drawings from a Montrealer's journal are named after a Bosnian proverb: "Like a pig in Tehran!"

I want to thank Elham Yousefi and Hamed Masoumi, the couple behind the idea of Café Aunja, a place which is much more than a café to me.

The translations of these texts are done by me but are beautifuly final-touched by someone who interprets me even better than myself : Jean-Christophe Leblond.


Programme jeunesse Iran at FNC 2014

A bit of update on the last two months:

Last summer and fall, I was invited to work on two programs for children and youth for the Festival de nouveau cinéma (FNC) for the "P'tits loups" section. These two programs of Iranian animation films were presented on the 13th of October in Montréal.

"P'tits loups" is the youth section of FNC which focus on cinema for younger audience and their family.




"Story of red pencil" by Alireza Chitaie

"The sparrow and the boll" by M. Ahadi