1. Being that Dziad i Baba is a short animated film based off of a Polish fable, how did you get the inspiration to create two bird-looking creatures as the two soul mates? Are there any changes in the fable that you changed/added/excluded in your film?
The idea to adapt Józef Kraszewski’s fable was actually suggested to me by my mom. My puppets were all built and waiting for me to finish writing a story for them when my mom saw them and something about the pair made her think of the fable. Listening to the poem and looking at my puppets, everything just seemed to fit. The puppets are made out of found pieces from dead animals so the theme of life cycles is already inherently there and, to me, the pair looks very old indeed. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to stay as close to the original story as possible because in Poland, especially among the older generation, the fable is very popular. It’s been somewhat forgotten among the younger generation and I felt inspired to bring it back. But at no point, did I think that I could improve upon the original text. So the narration and all the dialogue are exactly the same as the original text. When it came to writing the English subtitles, I tried to keep somewhat of a rhyming scheme and convey the dark humor of the story so I ended up having to take some small liberties with the order the lines are delivered or the exact words used. Hopefully, my bilingual audiences won’t mind those few moments of disconnect.
2. It is very interesting to know that, although the film took four years to complete, the film’s characters were made out of biodegradable materials and almost everything used was environmentally friendly — how did you manage to do that? Are the characters’ arms made out of crab claws?
Yes, four years! The production process was so drawn out because I often had to put the project aside to take on paid work. Over the course of several years I gathered the many natural objects used in the film’s sets and puppets and, because I was working out of a somewhat damp studio, it was a challenge to keep those objects from molding and disintegrating. Thankfully, I discovered tea tree oil and its ability to kill almost all types of mold. I regularly sprayed my entire studio with the diluted oil and kept a de-humidifier running during the most humid months of the year. Once I finished shooting, almost all of the materials that I used in my sets ended up in the compost. I actually still have the two main puppets from the film and I’m happy to report that they are holding up beautifully. And yes, those are real crab claws! There are also boar vertebras, lobster heads, fish skulls, gourds, and shells in there.
3. What would you like the viewers to get out of after watching your film? Is there anything in particular that you want to convey in the film’s message?
My hope is that I’ve made an entertaining film that will make people laugh but will also make them think about how they might act if they are to one day find themselves in the same situation as my characters. The feelings of wanting to sacrifice everything for our loved ones are, after all, very much in contradiction to our survival instinct. Personally, I sometimes see myself falling into the trap of wanting to believe that I am stronger, braver, and more noble than I really am. And, to me, there is something pathetically funny about that. I think the argument the old couple has about wanting to die first is one that many aging couples has so it’s hopefully a theme that a broad audience can appreciate. Ultimately, I hope this film reminds viewers about the fact that aging and death is something that we have no control over and that the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can stop obsessing about it and simply enjoy the time we have together.
4. Can you share with us more information about the film you are currently working on – Zulo the Bowerbird? Will you continue to create short animated films, or do you have plans to venture onto much longer animated films?
Yes, I have started planning out my next short film Zulo the Bowerbird
which will be an animated comedy based on the mating behaviors of the bowerbirds of New Guinea and Australia. So far, I’ve written out the script, I’ve drawn out the storyboards, and I’ve built two out of the 7 puppets. Before I move forward with the production, I need to find some much-needed funding for the project and, until that happens, I am going to work on a series of paintings that I have been visualizing for some time now. If you are interested in keeping up with me and my work, please visit : www.mystopmotion.com
or follow me on Twitter @ BStopMoGo