Interview with director Erica Travia

Erica is an aspiring visual development artist specializing in environmental design and concept art. Erica has obtained her bachelor’s degree at Savannah College of Art and Design, pursuing in animation with a concentration in storytelling and concept development. When Erica has some free time, she enjoys watching her favorite TV shows, listening to lo-fi music, and watching too many cat videos.

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

As a child, I loved animation and filmmaking. Animation was the perfect way to tell stories for me. I was inspired by shows like Avatar The Last Airbender and Kim Possible. These shows taught me how animation could be a powerful storytelling tool. Animation is my preferred medium for storytelling. I aim to create animated films that not only have stunning visuals but also powerful themes that are often overlooked in today’s society. I hope that my storytelling will leave a lasting impression on the audience and have a lasting impact.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I personally attended an art institute to gain a deeper understanding of my career in the animation industry. However, I don’t believe that going to a film institute is an absolute necessity. That being said, I highly recommend that you learn the fundamental skills required for creating a film. Starting from scratch can be challenging, but with the right level of motivation and dedication, you can achieve something truly magnificent.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

It was a completely new experience when I started working on Arcade independently. I had to set my own rules and be my own boss to bring my idea to life. But as production progressed, I realized it wouldn’t be an easy journey. Being a senior in college, I had other classes to worry about, and there were times when I thought I should postpone the project until after graduation. However, my team kept me motivated. Seeing them enjoy working on the project and creating fanart of the characters made me realize I couldn’t give up. Ultimately, my team was my biggest source of inspiration to keep going.

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

It was a blessing in disguise that turned out to be one of the team’s most successful moments. I’ve learned that if you genuinely believe in your idea, others will see its potential too. Arcade was a unique and creative project that was able to flourish because we had the freedom to make it happen. The best part was being able to connect with people from all over the country, not just within our school.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

During our production, we had the opportunity to personally select each member of our project team. This resulted in us being entirely online due to the diverse locations of our team members. Despite the remote nature of our operations, we were able to work with excellent efficiency. Our weekly department meetings on Zoom were highly effective and allowed us to replicate a traditional production process. To ensure our characters were on model, we displayed our work in progress on Discord for drovers. We also utilized Google Drive, which helped us to organize our files seamlessly. Overall, our online approach proved to be successful, and we were able to produce high-quality work.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Right from the beginning, I had a clear vision to make Arcade stand out, especially in the psychedelic scene. Our compositors put in a lot of effort during the last few months of production to produce effects that were truly thrilling! The challenge was to present a neon-colored frenzy while still keeping the arcade aesthetic intact, but with careful planning and coordination, we were able to overcome it as a team. There were some ideas that we had to let go of due to time and budget constraints, but overall, I am incredibly proud of the outcomes we attained despite having to make tough decisions.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Initially, the concept of Arcade was merely an idea I had for a class project, but as time progressed, it evolved into something much more significant. My primary objective was to establish an exceptional team, which is why I reached out to my friends to assist me in finding people. We initially started with small-scale recruitment by asking individuals in our classes if they were interested in joining; however, as we progressed, we expanded our search to LinkedIn and other platforms. Within a few short months, our team had grown to include 85 highly skilled artists from all corners of the globe. It was truly awe-inspiring to witness the level of success that we could achieve when we all worked in unison toward a shared goal.

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

When it comes to films, many of us crave that connection, that relatability that makes us feel like we’re a part of the story. Whether it’s a humorous comedy, a spine-chilling horror, or a heartwarming romance, we want to be able to understand the theme and feel a sense of satisfaction when we watch it. However, I don’t believe that a filmmaker should stress over pleasing everyone in the audience. It’s natural for some people to love a film, while others might not care for it at all. But as long as your film captures the interest of the audience, that’s what really matters. So go ahead and tell your story, and let the viewers decide for themselves whether they connect with it or not.

  • 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 film festival has been an absolutely wonderful experience thus far. It’s been truly inspiring to witness the different films that people have created and the stories they have to share. The opportunity to meet other filmmakers and learn about their creative processes has been an invaluable experience. Witnessing how they’ve brought their ideas to life on the big screen is awe-inspiring, and it’s amazing to see how they can share their vision with the world through the medium of film. This festival has given me an entirely new appreciation for the art of filmmaking and the power of storytelling. I’m eagerly anticipating what’s in store for the rest of the festival and the potential for even more inspiration and growth.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I’ve been exploring the fascinating world of animation lately and I’m really impressed. The talent and imagination animators have is truly amazing. They can create breathtaking masterpieces like Spiderman into the Spider-Verse, which always leaves audiences astounded. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using traditional cinematic techniques – the key is to capture the interest of viewers with different preferences. It’s incredible to see how animation has evolved over time, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for this fantastic art form.