Interview with Filmmaker Danja Politis (ANIMUS PER MACHINA)

ANIMUS PER MACHINA played to rave reviews at the January 2019 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Danja Politis: I always wanted to make an animation that was longer than three minutes on my own. At the time I was still at school and was given completely freedom to work on a project.

Before the first sketch of the animation I made a short loop of rotating gears in a monochrome colour scheme and that was a starting point for the factory in the short.

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

From idea till an early version of my animation it took me two months, including the rendering time but I was still unsure about the editing and order of some scenes that let me put it to the side.

It took nearly a year to pick it back up. At the time I was working on background animations for a band, that was kind of an incentive to finally make it public and send it to festivals but before that I made the final edit.

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

Monochromatic selection

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

The way of telling the story. It should be abstract with no narration but not too confusing or unclear for the audience to lose interest. The part in the story where the balls are getting split through the roundabout and where they travel through different paths was quite head wrecking. It should seem that everything is happening at the same time.

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

I really enjoyed listening to the audience and their thoughts about my short.

I liked that the audience empathized with the balls and their different fates. I gave the balls two white circles that represents eyes, to make them more relatable in comparison to if they were only plain.

I was waiting on the question: Why are some balls picked and some are not? Which I deliberately wanted to evoke with my story. We have an urge to know why something happens, we try to always find a reason to justify or explain certain events. In this short I consciously don’t give one.

One other thing I noticed that my choice of making the animation in black & white stood out. It was a conscious decision to enhance the cold atmosphere and the audience seemed to think so too.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The underlying idea was a metaphor of the process of ideas in our mind. Most of the time we have so many ideas but often only one idea is coming to fruition but how does this selection look like?

So, I started to make a visual representation in form of sketches. One important aspect was that, the selection process has to seam random and arbitrary, that’s why every ball is visually the same.

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

I think that must be the second movie of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’. I am a real fantasy fan. One of my highlights in the movie is the battle of Helms deep, which I always anticipate when watching the movie. The next movie I have seen nearly as often is ‘A Bug’s Life’ by Pixar. I always had a fascination of 3D animation that led me to make my own.

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

It’s a really great platform to find easily and fast various film festivals and makes it easy to send the same film to festivals from one platform.

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

I cannot say for sure because through the radio I must have heard some songs a lot without me knowing. Anyhow, one song I have listened consciously on my devices the most is ‘The Nobodies’ from Marilyn Manson. Which when I am thinking about it, actually influenced me making the short. Often one specific detail or object I have seen somewhere ends up in my own work, which most of the time I notice later when I reflect on it. For example, one of my first assets I made for the animation was a conveyor belt. One can be seen in a specific clip of the music video of ‘The Nobodies’.

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

I started my own studio ‘Umbra Studio’ but I am still figuring out my business plan and working on some projects, on which I cannot share too much information yet.

What I can say for sure that I want to make another 3D animation soon. I cannot say what it will be about, how it looks like and when it will be finished but when I do, I will probably submit it to the FEEDBACK FEMALE FILM FESTIVAL, but time will tell how long it takes.

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