Interview with Filmmaker Kari Barber (DEATH AND MAGIC CASTLES)

DEATH AND MAGIC CASTLES was the winner of BEST ANIMATION at the June 2022 Feedback Animation Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

After my son Zizou died I couldn’t imagine ever making a film again. All of my energy was going toward this terrible loss and I had nothing left. I figured the only way I could find out if I could ever make films again was to make this film and to tell this story.

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

Way longer than it should have for a 5 minute film! I had never worked in animation before so all of this was new to me – the process, putting together a team – I was starting from the ground up. Interestingly what took me the longest was to write the script. Finding the words to represent such pain was so difficult. From when I first had the idea to completion it took more than two years.

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

Uncomfortable. Honest.

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

The biggest obstacle was finding a team to work with (or at least a partner) in the times of Covid when in-person networking wasn’t happening. I was so lucky to meet the animator for the film, Gabriel O’Connor, through the social media forum for an online animation class I took during lockdown.

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

Before I started I was so nervous, but I loved that people took something from the film that I think will really stick with them. It felt genuine.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I worked as a video journalist first and it was when I was based in West Africa that I became increasingly interested in telling stories with more depth and shades of gray than a TV story had space for. I decided to go back to school to study documentary.

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

The Sandlot or Dirty Dancing

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

Opportunities to network and socialize with other filmmakers are always nice for me because I don’t live in a place where there are a lot of people involved in this industry.

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

It works great, it’s a huge improvement over the system that existed before. I’ve forgotten what that site was called.

10. What is your favorite meal?


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

I’m wrapping up a very unusual documentary I’ve been working on for 8 years about robots, artificial intelligence and the future of war. Scary stuff. It’s a film I started before Zizou died. After that, well, we’ll see if I pull through and make something new or not. I’m trying to be open to whatever feels right.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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