Interviews with Isabel Pahud, Caroline Laville and Isabel Clerici
It’s after a long year of sitting behind desks working on various projects that the whole animation department here at HSLU, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts comes together to eat amazing grilled veggie-burgers, to discuss the recently premiered bachelor movies and most of all, to enjoy each other‘s company before a long awaited summer break.
On Thursday the 29th of June, three classes of students and staff meet on the school’s terrace to have a last meal together before leaving for the summer or definitively for those finishing their studies. It’s a long held tradition from the animation’s department: a true farewell to our third year bachelor’s and a last chance to get together with all their peers after a very exciting but also busy premiere the day before.
It’s under a cloudy sky that it all takes place and even though everyone’s very emotional, we can see the sun shining through the student’s smiles as people laugh together over their shared memories. Watching it all come to surface, I see the perfect opportunity to ask a few of the recent graduates about their time spent here studying animation, who knows when a little secret might be spilled.
Three years have come to an end, this is the last time you’ll be with the whole bachelor together as a student, how do you feel about it?
It kinda sucks because the three years were really nice and although we were covid kids, we still managed to build a nice class atmosphere. Now it’s the reality of having to step foot into the big world out there where nothing is sure and nothing is secure. You’re leaving this comfortable bubble, and also being a student where shit is free, I’m not going to have that adobe pack anymore…
I know! Usually if the studio is good they provide you the licenses but yes, it’s exciting and also very depressing at the same time.
Isabel Pahud, director of this year’s bachelor film Forza, Rea!, started her studies here in September 2020 right before new public health measures were imposed due to Covid-19 cases rising in Switzerland. Having to study from home affected the class dynamics but not necessarily in a bad way, as Caroline Laville explains:
The lockdown started again around November so we had three months to get to know the class. Then we all moved to Discord* until the end of our first year. I think it was hard on some people but it worked out for my side of the class really well. We * instant messaging social platform, usually used for video calls and private chats met everyday, we had such a tight bonding experience through staying up until 2 am chatting or playing games together, that formed a really strong bond between us. It‘s in the AniGrill that the third year class gets to say goodbye to this school. It’s a special event that can get quite emotional as it takes place directly after the bachelor film’s premiere, the day before. For Isabel Clerici, the second Isabel from team Forza, Rea!, this year’s grill is different because it’s her last:
You’ve been to quite a few AniGrills, what makes this event special in your
It’s the feeling of everyone being excited because some really cool movies are done! It‘s also the last time you get to see some people and talk to everybody, not just your class. It’s exciting to have everybody together, it’s hard finding time for everyone to hang out. The AniGrill is like: “we the animation students are having a party”, it’s really cool.
We always have a lot of things organized only for animation students, it’s so great.
It’s just really nice because it’s like a send-off. You get to send somebody off and know that next year it’s your turn, you can prepare yourself for that. As a third year, something ends and it’s sad but in a good way. It’s important, if we all just left and there was nothing it would be hard, this helps. So that’s the main purpose of the AniGrill: not just eating for free but also closing an important chapter in the student’s lives. It’s a time of discussion and reflection, where everyone can go over their evolution during their studies.
With your studies finished, what do you take out of the last three years?
I started studying here not knowing if I wanted to do 2d or 3d and now at the end, I know very specifically what I will focus on. It formed me by giving me directions. The studies here also gave me realistic expectations for what happens after school. But most of all, we have a community now with this class where we’re proud of each other, everyone is very skilled. I know that a lot of us are gonna be in the industry and it will be amazing seeing people that I studied with work on really cool projects.
Maybe in the future we get to work together again, it would be a dream.
Caroline Laville worked on her personal portfolio during her last year instead of teaming up to make a movie. However, that did not stop her from stepping into many different projects in different roles like for Summer Rain as Compositor and Oh No as Producer. Connections are one of the most crucial possessions that students take from their bachelor in Lucerne. All the time spent together creating strong bonds contributes to better teamwork and an overall greater time working as a group.
What are the best memories you keep?
AH you’re making me choose! I don’t know, maybe lunches in the atelier, just eating together, having a laugh, watching movies in the Rex* or hanging on the terrace, it’s the small things. Obviously seeing my name in a big cinema made me cry, it’s a pretty big moment. Aside from that, I’d say the third year because it’s such a collective work. I don’t think it was a specific moment, it was getting to work on a project and seeing everybody work on their project, updating and helping each other. I don’t think I’ll ever have something like that again. It was pretty incredible.
Such emotional answers! Okay so-
Also pancake day was fun.
Pancake day! Was that a new thing this year?
That was because Bee (Isabel Pahud) is British and it’s a British holiday!
That’s so funny, I saw it on your schedule!
Yes, so carry it forth next year, do pancake day.
Sure, great memories are formed during the studies. And even though the students wouldn’t change a thing about those, there are still specific moments where they feel like they could have done things otherwise, especially with the knowledge they have now.
What would you have done differently?
Now with a whole year behind me of being director, I know what I can do differently in that role. I have a clear idea of what is expected of me and what I should bring to the table. When I pitched my story, I didn’t realize exactly how much I should have done beforehand, style-wise and story-wise. It’s good to have a clear idea of what you want instead of just a concept. Concepts are great but if you don’t flesh them out, you won’t find anything tangible. Also, If you have a concept, make sure that you have people that are very eager to bring ideas to the table! Around the tables outside, between the alumni, staff and current students, a few new faces can be seen. The next first years have already been accepted, some are here tonight. There’s no better time to drop a piece of advice, I’m sure they’d be as eager to hear it as me. * Hslu’s own movie theater just next to the cafeteria
What piece of advice would you give to the newcomers?
I remember my first kükenfest* I was sweating because my new classmates were so much better than me. I got in from the waitlist so I wasn’t sure I deserved my place here. I talked with a third year back then at the grill, their piece of advice stuck with me: even though you compare yourself in the first year, as soon as you start working in a team, you stop the comparisons because everybody is equal. The better your teammate is, the better it is for you!
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take these three years as practice, don’t expect to have portfolio worthy work walking out of it. Always move on to the next project instead of sticking to one trying to make it better. Sometimes starting from scratch or doing something different is way more helpful to advance in your skill. Also, make good friendships and have a good time, don’t take the teachers too seriously! Grades don’t matter, you just need to pass. It’s all about your skill, not grades.
Follow your gut and do what you like. If doing what you like means not doing an all-nighter but instead hanging out with your friends, then do that. It’s probably the only time in your life where you’re gonna get to do that. If it means that you really want to finish this specific thing then do it! As long as you follow your gut, you’re going in the right direction.
Thank you Isabel 1, Isabel 2 and Caroline, we’ll be sure to put all of that into action.
So there it is folks: as the night ends, the beloved third years pass not only the salad, but also the torch to the next batch of students. And as we all eat and drink together, this evening serves less as a goodbye but more as a welcoming party to all the amazing projects to come by our new graduates.
photos by Jessica Meier
*grill organized in the first week of school to introduce the new animation students to the Bachelor