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Unframed: Paul Klee's hand Puppets - An Interview with Martin Charrière

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I started to study electronics, as a wanted to become a robotic engineer to be able to create things. I quickly realised that the part of creation was limited in the technical field and decided to stop and left for France to study 2d animation for 3 years. I love to create film and even more interactive experiences and games because you can immerse yourself in a subject learn everything about it and create a world, art and emotions. The best is when you can do that as a team with your friends.

Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?

In Hand Puppets, Paul Klee, we faced a lot of challenges. The first was to be able to recreate the puppets from the original art. We wanted to honor Paul Klee’s work and make the 3d puppets as close as possible to the originals. We were lucky enough to be able to partner with ZPK The Paul Klee Zentrum in Bern. They received us and allowed us to take pictures of all the puppets. We used them then to create the 3d models and texture them. The other challenge was that we had to animate a full city with more than 50 puppets and I am the only animator on the film. We had to find a way to be able to animate the puppets quickly. What’s more we really wanted for the animation in the film to look like they were from a real puppeteer and not like standard 3d animation. We made some research and found Tvori, a VR software that allowed us to animate the puppet in VR in real-time. We created a rig close to a real puppet and then animated all the puppet in VR with the controller as our puppet, almost like a puppeteer would do in real life!

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

There are a lot of people that are really passionate about specific subjects and that have a lot to share. I love to take to those experts in their filed, immerse myself in a subject and then try to tell their story to the audience. In this series “Unframed” we wanted to tell more about Swiss art. We think they are some really great Swiss painters and even more so some beautiful piece of art that have interesting stories. But often when we see a painting in a museum we don’t know about its story and therefore miss out on a lot of what the picture has to tell us. With these film we want to tell the stories behind the art so that people can enjoy the paintings even more, knowing how and why they were created.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

We consider 2 things when looking for a new project. First of course the subject, we try to find someone or some art that has an interesting story and content that is original and still not really known. And secondly with VR especially we try to use the project we do to get better and learn something. We use the base from the last project and add one challenge in the next one so that we can keep pushing ourselves and always stay on the edge J

Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

I was stunned when I saw Allumette in VR for the first time. Other that that I’m a big fan of stop motion films such as Coraline, Fantastic Mr Fox, etc.. I love the texture and the fragility of the puppets. And in virtual reality I think it is something that works well because when an object has a “real” look with textures and imperfection it make everything looks even more life-like even in the craziest made up world. That is the magic of animation.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

I can only speak from my experience but I think COVID has been tough for VR because festivals were canceled and people reluctant to put on a headset, it has also isolated creatives. We had to delay the “launch” of Hand Puppets” a full year. The good side is that we had a bit of tranquility in this fast evolving environment to work on ideas and test out new things.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

Avoid to be over ambitious. Reduce the technical challenges to the necessary core for your storytelling. If your thing is technical wow effect focus on one or two things and do it perfectly. Narration and making a film is a challenge itself, so while it’s good to set the aim high, it’s even better to do less but perfectly. It is also a lot more satisfying.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

Changing the world is maybe a bit big for VR films, however I do think film can bring attention to important subjects to audience that would never have been interested by it normally. I also thing that emotion is a very powerful tool to pass on a story, a message and VR is so immersive that the emotion and the experience often stick even more in the audience memory.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

I don’t think people’s taste has changed so much, if anything maybe they have become even more avid of stories and films during these times. As for VR with independent filmmaking I am always amazed at the range of subject and stories that are told and I think people come without expectation or looking for a specific subject, but rather want to discover something new, be surprised.

That’s what we focus on when selecting artist for our series Unframed. We try to find an unknown part of the work of a very well-known artist. People are intrigued because they know the artist and, we hope, surprised by the art and the story.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

While we have “Hand Puppet” traveling the world, we are now in the early stage of researching an artist for the next episode of Unframed, we definitely would really want to work with a woman contemporary artist. And maybe even create an original art around the VR experience.

Thanks for having me and I wish everybody a wonderful festival!


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