Interview with Filmmaker/Animator Marika Tamura (FINAL DEATHINATION)

FINAL DEATHINATION was the winner of BEST FILM at the Female Director’s Film Festival in September 2021.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The story of Final Deathtination started with my little thoughtーa mash-up of Death and a travel agent. When I combined this mash-up with a depressed man, the story did write itself!

As a culmination of my four years at Ringling College of Art & Design, I really wanted to create a story with a meaningful message. While the film is a dark-comedy and explores the serious topic of suicide, I created this film to share the message that “as long as you are alive, you can find a new joy and purpose to live”. Traveling is not possible for everyone, especially in these challenging times. My intention is not to say that everyone should go outside and see the world to overcome your depression. For Norman (main character), his new joy was traveling. However, it can be any small things in daily life that give you a little joy and hope. The same can be said for Death in the film; we don’t have someone like him who could come to save us. However, we all can be someone’s support who will help them have that little positivity in their life.

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

It took about a year and half. I was responsible for all aspects of the film, except its audio. I spent half a year on idea generation, storyboarding, and character design/visual development. Then, my senior year was dedicated to all the CG pipeline, including modeling, rigging, layout, animation, lighting, texturing, rendering, and compositing.

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

Suicide Tour…?

That sounds so ominous but I hope that people understand it once they watch the film!

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

One of the biggest obstacles was its animation. A funny thing is that I was able to act pretty well for the main character because I am quite a shy person. I struggle to take reference videos for Death because he needed to be really energetic, annoying, but somewhat likable. In order to find the right energy for Death, I looked for a lot of reference, including Jim Carrey from Mask, and many infomercial videos!

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

I wasn’t able to stop smiling! It was an amazing experience to see people’s reactions; and their kind words for my film meant the world to me. It made me happy when the audiences realized my intention for the design and story; a lot of people in the video said “this story was light-hearted while the topic is serious” and that was definitely my goal while creating this film!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Starting from doodles and origami with my mother in childhood, arts and crafts have always been my hobby but I realized my dream of becoming an artist in the animation industry when I was 16. As I wanted to work in a team, I was attracted by the creative and collaborative environment of the animation industry when I watched a documentary at that time.

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

Monsters, Inc. by Pixar!

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

For me, it is an awesome platform to find film festivals around the world. Since this was my first film, FilmFreeway helped me a lot to get to know all the amazing film festivals and easily organize my submissions.

9. What is your favorite meal?

I usually say my favorite meal is sushi; but I haven’t been able to go back to my home country (Japan) for more than a year due to the pandemic and I really miss my mom’s home cooking! I am looking forward to the next opportunity to see my family and eat a meal together.

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

I am currently working as a prop designer at the studio LAIKA. I am learning a lot from their amazing environment! I will keep working hard to improve my skill as a concept artist. At the same time, I would love to think of my own story idea as well. Before graduation from college, me and my friends talked about our own ideas and dreams of making something together in the future. I want to grow as an artist and someday I want that dream to come true!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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