Filmmaker Enrique Diego takes us through the making of his animated short film, Rupestre, that was part of the recently concluded Jagran Film Festival. In an email interview, the filmmaker from Spain, who has several animated shorts to his credit, talks about his love for art and history, his style of animation, the world of 2D and 3D animation and more.

Ousmane Tall, Andoni Jaen and Enrique Diego recording the backgrounds of sequence 3

Ousmane Tall, Andoni Jaen and Enrique Diego recording the backgrounds

Tell us about Rupestre and how did the idea for this story come to you?

Rupestre is the story of a wild horse who meets a prehistoric boy. A bond of curiosity grows between them, but old fears, inherited for millennia, awaken too.

The project is born from a specific question – ‘What kind of feelings inspired the first artists of our species?’ For many years I have been fascinated by ancient art and history. My family comes from an area where the most important outdoor collection of artistic works of the Paleolithic rock art appeared. This area is divided between Siega Verde (Spain) and Vale do Côa (Portugal), now considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old artists lived there around 30000 to 15000 years ago and designed mostly big animals – horses, goats, aurochs (ancient bulls) and deer. I wanted to understand the art of those ancestors, whose meaning was lost. We wanted to get under the skin of a Paleolithic child and see through his eyes. From a creative point of view, we wanted to offer a new perspective on prehistoric life through a surprising staging, where the backgrounds would be real and the animations were integrated with the style of the original engravings. This work does not have any dialogues, and the narration develops through gestures and orchestral music.

Are there any specific factors that one needs to keep in mind before choosing a story/subject for an animation film?

For me, every story and subject can be animated. The thing you need to keep in mind is how complex is it to make it real; in the way you want to make it. Which essentially means the time, people involved, monetary factors and so on.

As an animator, what is the technique/process you follow while making a film? What softwares do you work on?

The style and technique of animation in my films varies from project to project. It depends on the story I’m working on. I’ve used cartoons, Rotoscopy, stop motion, digital animation. What is common to many of the works is the beginning and the end of the process. Once I have a story I like to get all the information that I can about the subject – books, magazines, films, previous artworks etc. With the documentation and screenplay in place, I put in a lot of work and time in the storyboard and the animatics, and if possible, even in the music. In that process the film becomes real and the characters, the backgrounds, even the way to animate and the technique become clear. At the end, I like to use the Adobe Suite, specially After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop to edit and compose a film. The connection between these programs makes our work easier.

How did Rupestre come to be part of the Jagran Film Festival? What was the response you received from Indian audiences?

Our film distributor, The House of Films, suggested the idea of sending Rupestre to the Jagran Film Festival. Fortunately the jury decided to select it! When we received the communication we were really excited. However, here (in Spain) we couldn’t find out if our short film pleased the Indian audiences because we did not receive any feedback. We would like to come to India to test it ourselves.

Enrique Diego and Andoni Jaen

Enrique Diego and Andoni Jaen

How much time does it take you to complete work on an animated film? How long did it take to make Rupestre?

It depends on the technique, the duration, the number of animators and many other factors. We spent two years on Rupestre. We are three people working in the Perruncho Studio, our creative studio. We produced the film by ourselves, which meant that we had to simultaneously work on other projects to earn the money for the production and to buy some food and a roof.

Please tell us about your crew on this film.

We had a very small team. I began working on the screenplay with the archaeologist Juani García. He has deeply studied the engravings and his point of view was necessary. Once we had a story, I worked on the characters, storyboard and animation with Dani Hernández, one of the members of Perruncho Studio. The other member, Jose Diaz, did the production work. The music was created by Olga García, who worked with us from the beginning of the project and recorded the music with the Kiev Philarmonic Orchestra. The photographer Andoni Jaen, awarded in many places for his short film “Carta a Sasha”, photographed the real backgrounds and TLM – The Last Monkey, designed our sound. We had Emilio Calvo acting as the Paleolithic artist, Josep Manel Casany lent his voice and we were helped by the stop motion animator Oscar Catalán and the best boy Ousmane Tall. That was our great team.

What are the challenges of making an animation film?

There are so many and they can be artistic, technical, social, monetary. The most important challenge for me is to communicate something special that give people a unique experience.

Animated movies have largely been catered towards children. What are your thoughts?

Animated movies have a great opportunity to tell stories to adult audiences that can rarely be done through any other technique. I guess that perception (that animation caters to children) is changing slowly but we still need to fight a lot.

Enrique Diego integrating the animation in the video

Enrique Diego integrating the animation in the video

What are your views on the animation industry in India? Have you seen any animated films of India origin?

I don’t really know the Indian panorama. It’s a pity but in Spain it’s very difficult to watch animated full-length films apart from those made by the big American companies and a few European ones.

Also, in a world of CG or 3D animation, do you think there is a place for classical or 2D animation anymore?

Of course! Classical animation will never disappear because its results are so different. It is like painting and photography. One didn’t make the other disappear. The different techniques will coexist and sometimes will be mixed. What is true is that digital animation will be more popular in the next years.

You have largely made short films. Do you plan to make a full-length animation feature?

It would be great but I have to be realistic. To make a full-length animated movie I would need a big company backing me. I have some ideas for long stories but I will work on shorter ones that our studio can produce while I find a desired wealthy producer.