We love: Madagascar, Carnet De Voyage

15 May, 2012 1:10pm


At Virgin Media Shorts, we're all about inspiring our film makers with talk of big directors who started small and short films that hit the big time. But sometimes we just want to tell you about our favourite movies, so in this new series we'll be gabbing about the short films we think are awesome, and if we're super lucky, like today, we might even get to chat to (read: fire questions at) the people behind them.

This week, we're looking at Madagascar, carnet de voyage, a 2010 'travel diary' short by Bastien Dubois. Bastien was kind enough to chat to us about the film, and told us how an unplanned, un-storyboarded idea became a beautiful, Oscar nominated piece of art.

Madagascar, carnet de voyage wasn’t your first animated film – when and where did your film career start?

I did a student film when I was in supinfocom (a graphics and animation university) called AH. I made it with two other students. It wasn't really a personal work as it was the mix of three different points of view but it was fun to make. And a good training for film making and techniques. But before this 3D school I did some 2D animation tests by myself, like an animated beheaded chicken dancing… 

We'd like to see that. What was your inspiration for making a travel diary in Madagascar?

I wanted to publish my journey diaries as books, but they definitely weren't good enough. And as I was at school, I used some drawings from my previous trip to make my drawings move.

You studied at a 3D animation school in France at the age of 21, had you studied film or animation before that? Did you teach yourself?

Yeah, I spent a lot of time on Flash, making small games. I wanted to be a game developper. I did a lot of training in animation companies and the video game industry. That’s taught me a lot.

Do you think it’s necessary to study film or animation or can you be self taught?

I’m sure you can be self taught. Nowadays it’s very easy to produce images. The thing which is absolutely necessary is to CARE about images and story telling, and to live with that in your mind. I think that school is a good place for that, but you can do it on your own.

 Did you draw thinking about what would be animate-able? How much came direct from your sketchbook?

Not so much. The first idea was to draw in the streets and then animate it, but it didn’t work. So the time I spent sketching live was like a training.


Did you also take footage and photos for reference?

Yes of course! A lot!

What did the local people think of you drawing and animating them? Did they see the finished film?

Yes of course! I think they liked it! I had a very good experience when I went back to Madagascar to screen the movie. You can find out more about their reactions in my making of video.

The film looks so painterly and natural, but you must have used a 3D programme?

Yes, I used a 3D software and also compositing and 2D animation software.


Your film has a beautiful style that is quite different from most short films, and isn't a comedy or 'dark' like most short animations - what do you think of this trend? Is your narrative a deliberate reaction to the image of animation as "just cartoons"?

No. Because before I did Madagascar, I hadn’t seen many animated shorts. Not enought to have a deliberate reaction.

Do you see yourself as artistic?

Not as much as I'd like to be!

You said you spent a year and a half looking for money to make this film – what advice would you give to other short film makers who are struggling to find the funds for their film?

That It was long and painfull but it was worth it!

You said you headed off to Madagascar with no real agenda – did you really not plan anything at all?

I planned this much: the book opens, we see the town, we meet a guy who invites us to the famadihana, we travel through the country, we go to the party, things turn more psychedelic , we turn into lemurs and start flying over Madagascar, the book closes. That’s it. Then I started animating. No storyboard, no animatic.


What are your plans now?

I'm working on several projects - a TV serial of 20 journey diaries, and a short wich takes place in Papa New Guinea.

Thanks for talking to us!


So Shorts fans, what are your favourite short films of all time? Tell us over on Twitter and Facebook, or write about it in your blog and send us the link. We might pop it up on the site for all to see.

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