Hello Summer by Veronika Zacharova and Martin Smatana: Interview
Slovakian director Martin Smatana, a FAMU Prague graduate, is mostly known for his sweet and poignant graduation film The Kite (premiering at Berlinale 2019, more about it here). Czech director Veronika Zacharová studied at Zlin UTB and her graduate film House (watch it here) was creened and awarded at festivals around the world.
The two animation directors together prepared (first developed at the European Animation Development Lab Animation Sans Frontieres 2019 - 2020), Hello, Summer. The 8-minute animated short aimed at children 5-8 years old and their parents was recently (May 2021) pitched at CEE Animation Forum, and has certainly summer vibes all over it.
A Central Eastern European family of four (mother, father, daughter and son) are going to a summer vacation; yet when they arrive to their final destination, nothing is planned. They have to put their troubles aside, enjoy the holidays -and, most importantly, be all together on this.
We talked to both directors during CEE Animation Forum 2021:
ZF: Did you start planning Hello Summer before or during the lockdown and the pandemic? Now, it feels as contemporary as anything.
Veronika: We started that summer before the pandemic started, but Martin was preparing the topic long before that. Personally, I think of this topic only as a backdrop on which a truly universal story is told. I rarely link the real and animated world, it was always all about the joy of escape. But of course, the timing is ironic and hopefully it will bring only good into peoples minds.
Martin: Haha yes, it is a coincidence because we started developing Hello Summer way before corona was even named. In these days we feel even more that we are talking about a topic which we all miss so much in last couple of months, when we could not really travel abroad and discover new cultures and countries.
Watch the teaser of Hello Summer
ZF: Why did you choose a French Riviera retro style instead of a more contemporary environment?
Veronika: It's something I didn't think about completely, and it happened quite naturally. When it comes to creating movies, I´m absolutely intuitive but later all these decisions make sense. In this case, the reasons will probably be such that it brings a certain aesthetics, that is associated with the holidays and recognizable around the world. The retro aspect is connected with summer in general, memories, squinting into the sun… and last but not least, the color palette is just yummy!
ZF: Will the film be a mixture of 2D animation and stop-motion animation?
Veronika: Each shot incorporates an object that we could find in someone´s suitcase. Real objects will be animated more or less as the action requires. In Martin´s original vision the objects were supposed to have a larger prim, but the art design somewhat swallowed them. We are still tuning it.
Martin: Yes, the project will be combination of 2D digital animation and stop motion animation of objects of everyday life. This idea of combining two different techniques comes from my childhood. I was often bored on holidays. To entertain myself, I usually took a blank sheet of paper and put some object on it. Than i took a pencil and drawn something on the paper, which changed this object to something else. That’s how spoons became slides full of people, necklaces became dresses, and boxes of matches became diving tanks!
ZF: How do you want to structure your production in terms of funding and partners? And what was your experience with CEE Animation Forum?
Martin: Recently we have finished development and we are slowly preparing the project to the production stage. We are counting with the financial support from Slovak and Czech Audiovisual Fund, which supported the development stage as well. According to that we will later discuss with Veronika if we need some potential co-producer from other country. At CEE Animation Forum we got a plenty of positive feedback and also some offers for future collaboration. These reactions re-started us again for diving into this project.
ZF: How do you separate your personal experience from the fictional part of the film? Do you start adding events as ideas come to your mind?
Veronika: The story itself is made up completely by our brains and the act of creation, so there is no line, where „true story“ ends and the fantasy begins. But of course our brains are shaped by our personal experiences, so there is always a little of reality gleaming here and there, like opal. We both bring something different to the story, because our memories are different. And there is indeed a strange similarity between my dad, and the animated dad!
ZF: Any schedule so far for its release?
Martin: Since we are both working on a couple of different projects at the same time, it seems that we will start production in the beginning of the 2022. Since both of my previous films were premiered at Berlinale Generation, we were thinking about trying our luck at Berlinale 2023 again for the third time – of course only if Generation section will be re-opened again [ed. for short films].
The film has also received the Animation Workshop residency Award at MIFA pitching in Annecy 2020 - to be used as part of the production in Viborg in 2022. It plans to start production in September 2021.
Directed by Martin Smatana and Veronika Zacharova
Art director Veronika Zacharova
Animated by David Stumpf and Martin Smatana
Editing - Alexander Kashcheev
Produced by Martin Smatana / Studio Bororo (Slovakia)
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