Meeting the students behind the stories
Interviews with team Crevette, team Summer Rain, Kirill Gromadko and Justine Klaiber
I’m sitting among hundreds of people, the room is overflowing with excitement. Today is the HSLU’s Animation premiere, where films made by the students both in Bachelor and Master Animation during this last year will be screened.
It’s all taking place in the Blue Cinema here in Emmenbrücke. As I walk in, maybe fifteen minutes early, I can already see multiple small clumps of people talking. There’s the graduates’ families and friends, alumni, students, school’s staff and many Swiss professionals. I now understand why it couldn’t take place in our own cinema room in school, the Rex. I mingle a bit before going to the ticket stand where I receive a bracelet for my reservation and I walk into the screening room.
The room is enormous but I still struggle to find a sitting place in the middle, who even wantsto sit on the sides? The space gets filled pretty quickly. In the crowd, the people graduating this year stand out: dresses to suits, professionalism seems to be the theme, bulls-eye, every single one of them looks amazing! After all the greetings, they also take place and when every single person is finally sat, the atmosphere changes. Jürgen Haas, Hslu’s Bachelor animation’s director, walks on stage accompanied by Tina Ohnmacht, Master animation’s coordinator. A not so little speech is made, which I unfortunately can’t forward to you as it was held in german, but I assume it’s about the year of work behind and the pride felt for the students. That’s what I would have written. Then, it’s the students turn to speak, Sven Bachmann from team Crevette talks for the whole bachelor: he thanks every person involved in the films and gives away bags prepared for the school’s staff. Pretty similar words are said by Pedro Nel Cabrera Vanegas, on behalf of the master students. When all the important thanks are finally in the air, the lights dim and the true event starts.
Movies for all tastes are shown. DIfferent techniques, from stop-motion to hand-drawn animation to 3D are used and various stories, from the fear of pregnancy to a lemon thief, are told. People laugh during the funny moments and are quiet during the sad ones. What I’m sure of is that no one slept.
Soon enough, it all comes to an end. Jürgen Haas speaks a few more words about the amazing movies just presented: Henry’s hand, Oh no!, Forza, Rea!, Summer Rain, Crevette, Fork, Kill Your Darlings, NonSense, Searching for the Fifth Direction, Sonnenhuegel, Tapir Memories and Catch The Mouse!. And finally, the students graduating are welcomed on the stage for a strongly deserved round of applause.
The official screening is over and everyone starts getting ready for an apéro before calling it a night. However, all I can think about is finding a few of the graduates to ask them somquestions. The teams behind Crevette and Summer Rain, Kirill Gromadko from Catch the Mouse! and Justine Klaiber from the master’s, all agree to take a little interview.
What does it feel like finally seeing on the big screen the movie you’ve been working on for the last year?
We’ve seen it before in the Rex but the animation moves differently in this even bigger screen. It doesn’t look worse, I just notice other details. It’s really cool because it gives me a fresh perspective on the film.
It was interesting to hear and feel the audience. Before, we had only shown it to people who already knew the film and the story. I liked seeing the reactions of the ones that had never seen it before.
Elina and Sven worked on Crevette with Jill Vágner and Noémi Knobil. Even if seeing their project in a movie theater was a big step from working on small screens or watching it projected on school grounds, what mostly stuck with them was finally seeing the audience react genuinely. Which also seemed to be the case for the Summer Rain crew:
It’s crazy to be in such a huge cinema but also, I’ve seen the movie so many times that I’m a bit numb to it. However, at such a big event like the premiere, you can hear so many new reactions which is really nice.
Or not hear reactions, a lot of people were very quiet.
But that’s also a reaction!
Summer Rain, telling a story about grief through a child‘s point of view, was met with a strong silence when the credits rolled. The film, created by Marlene Low, Johanna Kern and Julia Krummenacher, touched the audience so profoundly that everyone hesitated to applaud. Fortunately, after one first clap the whole room joined as the team surely deserved.
Tell us a bit more about your teamwork, what would you have done differently?
We had a super dynamic team, we all worked on everything. We had a very democratic way of deciding what we wanted to continue with. It had its benefits and its downsides, it takes a lot longer to work that way. Noémi and Elina started with the story but we could all bring our things into it. We had to have a lot of discussions and meetings, it took way more time. It’s not very industry standard.
I’m not sure what I would change, I have more things that I definitely will keep on doing: like setting clear deadlines. Certain development stuff you can continue forever and keep finding more details, it’s dangerous. While for some, teamwork relied a lot on trust and friendships, for others this wasn’t the case.
Kirill Gromadko worked alone on Catch The Mouse! so he had to approach his project differently:
Working alone allowed me to go at my own pace, I put more hours on it then I would’ve if I were in a team. It’s a movie that I’ve been wanting to do for four years so I was also kinda addicted. If I were to do it again, I would’ve had less characters. Right now, the movie has five and they’re all four-legged creatures, which I had never animated before. Working alone has its own perks such as independence and complete choice. But in a group setting, a story can change drastically, especially when you constantly get input from your teammates.
How did the movie evolve from your original view?
When I pitched the story I had a few images in my head. Looking back, if it were a solo project, it would’ve turned out so different. It doesn’t mean it would’ve been better. I had a few visuals that I think would’ve been heavier story-wise and mood-wise, being in a team really helped me find that bittersweetness that we were going for. I wouldn’t change anything about the story that we have now, it’s perfect in my eyes.
Every graduate is very proud of their movie and they’ll carry on that feeling towards the new projects they’ll contribute to. While some are continuing their studies here at Hslu or elsewhere, others are stepping directly into the industry either through an internship or a full-time job. Justine Klaiber, master graduate, will be looking for funding for her story, as she entered her master degree in the concept track and spent her studies preparing the pre-production for a short-film.
What is the movie about?
It’s the story of Amelia who is stranded in space on a space-ship. She’s completely alone and struggling with the isolation and grief of losing a colleague partner. It’s about human and physical connection, being able to touch and feel another person. We as humans need that physical connection with people that are important to us, even if it’s not a love-relationship or a sexual-relationship. That’s why I tried to keep it ambiguous.
If everything goes according to plan, we should expect Lost Touch to premiere in festivals towards the end of 2024.
Another year goes by and we can once more be satisfied and fulfilled with the amazing work done by the animation students here in HSLU – Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. The premiere is a success, it’s fair to expect more reservations for the next one, especially if they keep up the apéro treatment. It’s great seeing so many animation-passionate people connecting and having fun in the same place.
Looking at all the filmmakers being created here in Lucerne, we can’t help but to look forward to the numerous original stories to come from the Swiss Animation industry.
Blogpost by Daniel Neto Dias
photos: HSLU Premiere Animationsfilme Emmenbrücke, den 28.06.2023
Copyright: HSLU/Priska Ketterer