Interview with director SILVIA MAÑES VELASCO

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

I remember when I had to choose the subjects of the career, not knowing very well where to go, and standing on “Animation fundamentals”. My brain screamed at me “get that one!” and with the first flip book we made I was completely hooked.

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

I really don’t think it’s strictly necessary to have a career to do what you love. It’s true that teachers can give more notions and advice than you can learn on your own, but in the end it’s always the passion and experience that ends up being essential.

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

With motivation and enthusiasm, it’s easy to start a project. But if you don’t have the resources or experience to do it, it can be complicated. Once you’ve overcome the first wall, it’s just a matter of getting on with it. However, the longer it goes on the more the initial excitement can be affected. That’s why we always had meeting to show the progress of the short film, where we could see the results and how much we had improved, which helped us to keep going motivated. And when you saw the final result and start to showing it, that’s the moment you know it’s all worth it.

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

I remember the phase of storyboard where we had learned a great lesson. We had many teachers and they all gave us advice and we tried to follow all of them to improve the story. They were doing it to help us with the best of intentions, but each one told us different and contradictory things and it was very confused. And, in the end, I realized that we were losing the essence of the film trying to make everyone happy except ourselves. So, we collect all the advice but we only applied those that we thought were suitable for the short film, which helped it to improve. And we got the best result for us, the one we are proud of.

  • 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?

It was easy because I have a wonderful team that always understand my point of view and help me as a novice director. We put our ideas in common so we can choose together the better ones and made the film something we can be proud of. It wasn’t always easy to agree, there were times when we had to give in an put our ego aside for the sake of the project. It’s difficult to adapt to a team but I believe that in the end we achieved our goal and although we had to learn through each phase, this made us gain an experience that we’ll never forget.

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

I think it was the composition of the climax scene, where Hugo runs away from the gamusino. We wanted it to be a dramatic and stifling scene and we thought of a change of style where everything would become flat red, black and yellow. Strident colors and sharp lines but it felt like they had entered a different world and it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the film. In the storyboard and the concept art was a ground-breaking and original idea but in the animatic we saw it was a mistake and we chose to cover the scene with a red glaze to emphasize it but following the same style.

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

Christine and Lydia were my friends throughout the entire career so we’ve already worked together and I completely trust them. They are awesome artist and we keep going creating ideas and projects together. While Cristina and Irene came to us in the master when we started with the script. We saw that we had some things in common and we could form a great team. And I don’t regret this decision. They are a wonderful team; I couldn’t have asked for a better one and I wish them the best. I would like to work with them again in the future.

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

People want to be entertained, to see different, eye-catching, fun things. Personally, I love fun and exciting stories but also that you can identify with them, that they have a message and that you learn, although this isn’t the main objective but something that happens without you noticing it. I think this is the role of the filmmaker, to find a balance between the story he wants to tell and what the audience wants to see. But always keeping in mind its essence, without getting carried away by the trend to the point that he/she no longer recognizes his/her own story.

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

Since we finished the short film, we’ve performed at all the children festivals we could. Big, small, national, foreign, near, far… And it’s always an honor and a joy when we’re selected. It motivates us to continue sending and creating and to feel that what we’ve done is being seen and people are enjoying it. I think they are necessary precisely because it’s this kind of events that help a short film come to life, since it isn’t very common to be able to watch them on TV and only the most viral ones are the ones that people actually watch on social networks. What makes more humble short films like ours are almost forgotten. That’s why festivals are so important, they bring together these little strangers and show them to the world. And as a director I can’t thank you enough for that.

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

Every filmmaker must be true to himself and his storytelling. Anyone thinks that following the classic style is the best because it works, but precisely this kind of style and genre is created because people have tried new things and liked them. In movies as in life, nothing is written, there’s no right way to do things that will make you famous, only the right way to be yourself. People like stories that they can identify with and it always comes from the director’s own feelings.