Interview with animation director François Balanant

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that animation is your way of telling stories?

Ever since I was little, I have always loved telling stories. But I have always been frustrated at not being able to put my words into images, the animation allowed me to express myself.

  • What exactly is the job of an animation director?

I wasn’t only the director of The Fisherman, because it’s a school project that I did solo. So i did everything, and having total freedom over your short is very satisfying.

  • How many people are involved in creating an animation like yours? And could you tell us a bit about their roles, the flow of the team?

I was alone ! So i had to make everything by myself in less than 7 months : the 2D animation, backgrounds, sound design, post-production etc…

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your animation? How did that lesson happen?

I have never learned so many things than with The fisherman, you have to know that I was not necessarily very good at animation (or not at all), and that I had to put in a lot of time and energy to overcome it. It was a big challenge, but one that I took up

  • What is the process in creating an animated character?

Normally, we start by writing a story, and we work on the visual aspect of the film afterwards. But I did the opposite process: I started by creating concept arts and chara design, then I tried to make sense between these images to create a story. This is always how I work, and it make the job (and sometimes not)

  • 2D Animation vs. 3D animation what are your thoughts on this endless battle?

I think that 3D has a more promising future than 2D, we only have to see series like arcane to realize it for example. But there is something that 3D can never overcome over 2D, and that is the charm of something authentic, made with the hand.

  • What does your animation workflow look like while animating? Tell us a little about the tools that you are using. What are your preferences? Methods? Plugins? Techniques?

I used toon boom for the animation, ans photoshop for the background. Then i used After effect for the montage, Soundly Pro for my research of sounds, and Audition for the sound design and editing

  • What do audiences want? And is it the animator’s role to worry about that?

I think the public is mainly looking to have a good time, to get away from it all. This is the job of a director, to offer a strong emotional experience, to offer interesting content, and to renew oneself so as not to stay in his comfort zone.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

The festivals have allowed the fisherman to be seen by more and more people. The recognition, the rewards, the prizes … It’s all gratifying for me. So it is very important.

  • What is the most difficult part for you about being in the animation business, and how do you handle it?

Animation is a passion for me, so anything that is hard, takes time, work and energy is a pleasure! I’m only 21 years old, but since I was a child I have dreamed of working in the cinema, telling stories, making people dream. So yes, it’s an environment that is not simple, it is constantly changing and we have to find a place. But if you work hard enough, trust and give yourself the time, all work will pay off in the end. The fisherman is one example.