Interview with Filmmaker Tomás Welss (MAGIC DREAM)

MAGIC DREAM was the winner of BEST FILM at the September 2020 ANIMATION Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Many years ago, when I was approaching myself to the cinema, frame by frame, I did an experiment, painting with tempera inks, under a 16mm camera. It was a circus story, with a despotic public around. It is a circus story trying to discover what is hidden and behind the clowns mask. That was many years ago. But the nature of my feelings to create a film is the same. For example, the hypocrisy that Lars von Trier portrays so well and make visible, in films like Melancholia or at the other hand, Festen, by Thomas Vinterberg, are a source of inspiration, like our daily life as well. I am attracted by the dichotomy of happiness and sadness, witch each of us harbors and manage to express, hide or demonstrate in infinitely different ways. In such way, the aesthetics, form, fluidity and pictorial cadence, versus content, both, were a big challenge to give life from my deepest, to my animated short ” Magic Dream “, hand by hand with detestable budgets.

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

Upon receiving the government support, to create and produce this painted animation.
I had a maximum term of 2 years to finish the film. Painting frame by frame, one on top of the other, scraping and drying colors, took, together with post-production, 5 years. Those 3 years came out of my pocket and everything was necessary. I needed that time, since the programs that should shorten the purely analogous work, were tested to the point where they should not be noticed that the technology was interfering and that its presence was random, enhancing the handmade without exposing programs and software’s trying to “save” path and whole trip.

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

Passion and obsession.

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

The biggest obstacle to the completion of Magic Dream was the passing of time. I relied on an exercise, of similar technique, when I was a student. I wanted to speed up all the processes that make up the production of this painted film, through the help of technology. I had to delegate. I was not satisfied with the result, many times. I went back, to count one by one, each painting on the timeline. I detect that the machines have eaten a lot of paintings and I went back again and again. I rescue the lost paintings, keeping a detailed look, a necessary look, over my paintings. I “travel” back several times, because of aesthetic, conceptual reasons and also respecting and pondering the mountains necessary work. It took a long time. Time and technology were not with me in Magic Dream. But I learn and learned from the disasters, like the wizard. However my reasons of some anger and helplessness are totally different than the magicians. Crossing a mountain, and discovering that brilliant day when I said, it’s over. I cannot touch this movie anymore and I had to forget the promises of the technological suspicion. Imposing and end point is a cause of pain and liberation.

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

I love watching that video, when other people, from other places in the world, talk about what I built frame by frame in my Atelier. It is enriching, listening to outside opinions. Ultimately, this is the meaning of creating an audiovisual work itself. What people see, what they feel and relate to their own lives, what they see in an infinite format such as frame by frame cinema.

Without formal limits, without gravity, or weight. That animated infinity is the one I expose to viewers, telling a story, in this case, not Aristotelian, but with various accents and metaphors to decode. I find myself closer to a universe of interpretation than to a direct reading of content, sometimes, almost didactic or valued, inserted, all and all in a subjective non linearity trip. Perhaps the fact of proposing a work that demands the viewer in its wide, interpretive capacity, makes Magic Dream not easy. We live unstable times or perhaps for the same reason, the public wants simpler or more objective readings. The question arises, so many times, what did this director want to tell me. I do not understand anything. I only see moving colors and sudden explosions………. For the same reason,

I enjoyed this group of people in Los Angeles, who talk about: What about this magician who returns and then disappears, insists and gives up. A day or some time later, on stage. I like to hear those comments from figures that explode inward / inside…. Observing internal explorations is going through bodies and is also playing with the language. Yet another girl speaks of the pleasure of constant fluidity, despite violent visual moments. “This is an analogous journey of handmade paintings, or not, but ultimately, it is a journey.” “It is a complex ending, regarding the protagonist, thinking about who that magician will be. Is he good? Is he bad?”
The animation style is captivating and the whole thing is very disturbing “Love those comments. Thanks”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Power, abuse of power, human weakness opposite to the appearance of strength. Eager for success, asking myself what success finally means.

Abuse against the weakest. Animal abuse and in a broad sense, the abuse of nature, embodied in the character of the rabbit. Abuse in front of those who support the performance, such as the two women. Cowardice, eagerness, collapse, reflection, recovery, generosity and at least, accepting the nature with its own rules. Humans are subordinate to nature and as such we are living new times, which connect the mess, between human and nature.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The Shinning – Blade Runner – Festen – Melancholia – Amour, among so much wonderful art pieces the human can create…. I have many animation directors on my list of favorites; however I am not very fond of animated feature films, which must tell a compact, funny, elusive or readable story, due to the extension in time of such an abstract language as animation, always. “The boy and the world” of Ale Abreu, has been a revelation for me, in the format of animation, feature film. As a jury member, at the 2013 Havana Film Festival, we awarded him the first prize.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Through Filmfreeway I got and I’m getting in contact with so much people, colleagues and Festivals around the world.

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

Not really a song, more or less a type of music. From classic ( Bach ) to Jazz, Blues and the big rage of Brazilian and Argentinean music.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Some film who has to do with my Angels who are taking care of my integrity – physically and spiritually
( My parents disappear during Magic Dream and its process. My infinitely and beloved mother passed away during the Pandemic, while I was taking care of her. She left because I’m afraid; she wanted to follow my father. It was not Covid, but the love of a loving couple; however my words are although already unnecessary.

From those deepest feelings, some concepts are rising, constant and reinforced in me, like the position of all of us, in front of nature, the unspeakable and inevitable. I continue…….

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