Please tell us what inspired you to enter into the world of filmmaking?
I have been interested in painting since I was a child. My undergrad major is animation. Of course, I really fell in love with making animation when I was in graduate school. After finishing my first animated film, Murk, I found that animation is another language for me to express myself. When I see the audience empathize with my story, I have more motivation to express what I deeply think.
Tell us about Mate 2020. How you find the idea?
My inspiration came from passing by a house and seeing two outdoor chairs placed there. They stayed there quietly, slightly towards each other, as if they were peacefully accompanying each other in this fast-paced world. Then I made this romantic animation about objects. Objects have no thoughts, but in the eyes of those who hope for love, we can find evidence of their love.
How much patience is required in this field?
If you want to make animations, you have to be very patient. Not only do we need the patience to animate, but we also need the patience to conceive stories, design characters, explore styles, etc. Secondly, we have to be more patient to face failure or start all over again. That may happen at any time.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring filmmakers?
I think the most important things are to keep trying and to think quietly. A lot of times, you need to keep experimenting with styles, exploring how to tell a story, to finally present the idea you want to express. Quiet thinking is a way to let your ideas sink in. This will allow you to write great scripts and give you the motivation to complete complex productions. Otherwise, you can easily get lost at any stage.
How important role editing plays while making an animation?
If animating is like making clothes, making animations is making pieces of fabric, and editing is sewing the fabric into a complete garment. The editor must have a good grasp of the rhythm of the animation. The length of each shot, the switching of different camera shots all affect the presentation of the final emotion.
Who are your filmmaking influencers?
Dutch animator, film director, illustrator Michaël Dudok de Wit is definitely my influencer. His films The Red Turtle, Father and Daughter are some of my favorite animations. His animations always bring strong emotional impact and resonance to the audience. In one of his interviews, I knew that each of his film stories must be what he wants to express the most and it will go through a long period of precipitation. This is also how I learn from him in my creation.
How do you choose a script that you are going to direct?
As I said earlier, my story script must be the thought or emotion I most want to convey to the audience at the moment. It also has come out of my daily life. When I write the script, I keep reviewing the story to make sure it’s what I want to say. At the same time, I would share it with some animators and listen to their opinions.
Were there any funny anecdotes from your filmmaking process?
In fact, early in the production, there were several shots, including one with a firefly trapped in a glass jar. At this time, another firefly flew in outside the screen, and they were tightly attached to each other at each side of the glass. The shot was very interesting. But then I felt that all the objects did not have real life and could better reflect the love from people's perspectives, so I finally deleted that scene.
How do you think the industry is changing?
When the existing technology allows animation, especially some commercial-style works, to form a fixed style, it is an inevitable trend to pursue an independent and innovative style. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a typical example, not blindly pursuing realistic VFX, but combining a comic style.
Second, the rise of short videos has made many people more accustomed to accepting direct and short animations. This also makes many animators think about how to make a concise and short animation.
How children are influenced from movies and animation?
Many children's behavior, habits, and values come from animations. For example, I saw a mother share on the Internet that since her child watched Peppa Pig, whenever he saw a puddle, he would definitely jump into the puddle and wet his trousers. Animation is an important part of children's growth, so every animation targeted at children should have diversified and reasonable values.
What do you think the audience like to watch these days?
In my opinion, today's audience likes to see novel, unique subjects. A single gorgeous VFX or realistic animation technology can no longer meet the requirements of the audience. For example, Jérémy Clapin’s I Lost My Body. Through surreal stories, wonderful imaginations, and exaggerated sub-shots, he expressed an absurd story that even if we keep losing, we should not give up life.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
My upcoming animation is about life. The animation will focus on “time” and show people's life, from birth to death. The animation will have several short chapters. Reborn/Reset, Baby, Children, Teen, Adult, Middle-aged, Elderly, and Reset(Loop). I will choose the most representative action or objects for each stage to create a few seconds of animation.
I am now working on the first period, Reset. The story tells that an old hand turns the hourglass that was about to end. The first drop of sand falls downward, and the camera travels through a colorful time tunnel, then reveals several blurred faces. The reversal of the hourglass symbolizes the endless life and the remembrance of the loved ones who have passed away.
Life has ups and downs. What we should do is to feel real life.