Synopsis: Portraits of Moscow, Pakistan, and Quebec as seen through the eyes of a traveling illustrator with a flair for adventure.
How did the idea for this travel series develop?
When I started Madagascar, my first animated journey diary short film, it was obvious that I could extend the concept to many other countries. But as I spent 2 years on the film about Madagascar, I let go of this idea. Too much time and too expensive. But as I experimented with 3D motion capture on my second short film, Cargo Cult, (I started it before Faces from Places and finished it after) I had the idea of massively using this technique. First, it would save time. Secondly, I could base my films on live interviews and start each film quickly with the voices and movement of the interviewed. I was writing a bible about that when Arte (French TV channel) came to me and asked: Have you thought about a series?
How do you pick a place to travel to?
We couldn’t afford to travel in all these countries. Not enough time, not enough money. So I based many episodes on my previous trips : Quebec, Louisiana, Greece, Russia, Armenia, Dordogne, Reunion. Then I chose countries where the painters went to. There was a crew of 4 to 5 painters for the characters and backgrounds. We did the interviews in Paris. We looked for people from all those countries and who spoke French (because it was asked by the TV channel to be in French). There are only two countries where nobody from the crew had never been: Pakistan (but I went to Rajasthan which is pretty close) and... the Antarctic!
In the beginning, I was looking for actors to play roles of people I met. But it proved to be less interesting than having interviews with people speaking about their own experience. I asked these people to bring me some video and photo material from their place. When it was necessary, I contacted photographers or people I know in the countries we chose to send me some extra material.
You were nominated for an Oscar for the short film Madagascar, which was a Finalist in the 2010 MANHATTAN SHORT. What was the Oscar experience like?
Amazing, of course! I thought about doing an episode about it. There is a lot of anthropological things to say but I didn’t want to seem pretentious.
How did you develop your illustration style and were there any obstacles to overcome in translating it to film?
I think not. I adapt my style to the needs of each shoot. I think I’m really technical and pragmatic so I just consider that I have this shot to do and then go on to the next one. With Madagascar and Faces from Places, the style changes. There are several techniques so it’s easy to adapt. It was different with Cargo Cult which has a unique style. It’s tough when you have to find out how to stylize characters, vehicles, foliage, sea, etc and keep a unity between all this elements. (CARGO TRAILER: https://vimeo.com/62094392).It was easier with Madagascar, and much easier with Faces from Places, because I had a crew of painters. This TV program is 20x3-- so 60 minutes of animation which was made in 8 months. We made almost an episode a week with a crew of 18 people.
What’s the one place you wouldn’t go back to and why?
Sorry, there is not.
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