Interview with director/animator Stephanie Davidson (SNOOT IN THE CITY)

Stephanie Davidson’s short film “SNOOT IN THE CITY” played to rave reviews at the March 2017 Animation Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephanie Davidson: As a film student who was about two years into understand CGI animation, my motivation at the beginning was to simply create a short piece of entertainment centred around my dog. I’ve always found dog body language to be clear and so easily readable, and so thought this was a good place to start. It began with my character, and as Snoot developed and changed so did my reason to make the film as I realised I was making something about ‘home.’

Visually, I was motivated by the architecture and rooftops of Paris at night, also looking at theconcept artwork of Walt Peregoy from 101 Dalmatians. In terms of design style I looked at thefantastic stop motion animation that is sprinkled throughout the film, ’The Little Prince,’ and also french films such as ‘A Cat in Paris’ by Jean Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

About a year. The idea began alongside the character and world design which I used the first half of the year for, also modelling and rigging Snoot during this time. The storyboarding and animatic took a month or two, then the pure production time began. It took me about 5 months to create environments, animate, light, render and edit.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

(Very very) Short, and sweet.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The intent of my character was hard to make obvious to fresh eyes. I kept on showing friends the versions I had but so many people came back and told me they didn’t understand what was going on, why this giant robot was coming for Snoot or how Snoot felt about this house crusher. I had to solve this through further brainstorming the story, and adding in a lot of reaction shots from my characters.

What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was completely thrilled. The audience took so much from my story that I hadn’t considered, likening it to ‘David and Goliath’ and The Pink Panther. I was also so excited to see that they understood the message I wanted to communicate and the tone of the film, showing me that I had succeeded in the parts of the film I’d thought I hadn’t.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO. Moderated by Matthew Toffolo:

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

After designing Snoot I took another character design my friend had done, The Robot, and was given the task to put them together in a conflicting situation. Throughout the development process I
got to know the two characters and tried to understand how each of them would react to various situations, which helped me create the story, eventually resulting in a film largely centred around
one objects, Snoot’s house.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Ratatouille.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners

What is next for you? A new film?

Right now I’m collaborating with another artist on a new film for my Honours in Design and Animation. We’re currently in the story development phase and are looking forward to releasing it at the end of the year.

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