Interview with Filmmaker/Animator Konstantinos P. Kakarountas (CHRISTMAS PRESENT)

CHRISTMAS PRESENT was the winner of BEST ANIMATION at the May 2022 FEEDBACK ANIMATION Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

We were in the middle of the economic crisis and during the capital controls, a very difficult time for all here in Greece. Petros Koskinas came with the script and suggested to do it in Animation. It was shocking to read the story. I hesitated to create a film with such a strong message, but as an artist I express myself through my art and so I started.

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

Christmas Present is an independent film. We started in 2018, but we stopped many times. In 2019 I wanted to drop the production, because it was difficult to animate a film about a man who wants to kill himself to offer a better future to his family, when everything around us seemed to be getting better. After ten years you could see development in the economy, at work, in arts etc… And suddenly covid came in to our everyday life. It was now or never. A last chance to talk about crisis. So, at Christmas of 2021 Christmas Present was ready.

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

Social drama.

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

As an artist to be accurate with the animation I had to get in my character’s shoes. I felt everything he felt, I struggled with his pain to make his final decision and as the film was nearing completion it was very difficult to work on this project. It was a big relief when it was finished. I felt the “catharsis” like in the ancient Greek drama. I knew my hero had made his choice and he was satisfied with it.

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

It was a big surprise for me. I was honored hearing such flattering comments. The biggest satisfaction for an artist is the acceptance of his work and most of all to realize that the audience felt the struggling of the hero to provide a decent life for his family. The inspirer of the story, Petros Koskinas was also moved by the impact of his story to all this people. It was really touching considering that it was written by someone thousand miles away, with a different background, but touched the hart of so many people the same way it touched our harts.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

From a very young age I loved watching movies of any kind. My dad was a big fan of John Ford so I was introduced to American cinema very early. The big bang inside me happened when I watched George Lucas Star Wars films. The mix space-opera and epic-fantasy narration was a big hit for me. I love the mix of animation-vfx with real actors and that is what I wanted to do. I wanted to mix different technics creating my own films. I was also good at sketching and painting, so I was experimenting with traditional and modern animation techniques. After graduating Fine Arts in Poitiers in France I worked as an animator and digital compositor, but a flame inside me didn’t let me rest and in my free time I worked on my own projects. It took me almost 20 years to finish my 6th short film, but I am very productive now. I am working at my two other own short films.

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

I have seen a lot of films in my life. I think that David Fincher’s Fight Club was one of them.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I think that workshops and interviews are the first elements. Also an agora or a pitching forum for us the independent filmmakers would be great.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It is very easy and convenient to have so many film festivals in FilmFreeway. My experience was pretty awesome.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Burger and moussaka.

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

I am working on two short films right now. The first is Defense, a black and white animated short film, using 2D/3D animation and digital painting. The film is about the police violence. I started the film in 2008. An accident with a policeman killing a 15-year-old boy in Athens causing many demonstrations and violent incidents, made me stop. Now with a fresh eye I started animation again. It will be finished end 2022 early 2023.

The second is 15:16 a short film about three people and the miracle which changes their lives. In this film I use a mixed technic with actual filming and a lot of CG-VFX. This film started in 2019 and I have finished the 70% of all the shots. It’s coming soon.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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