Happy End...in an online interview

05 May 2016

Czech Film

Happy End...in an online interview

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The young Czech animator Jan Saska speaks to his teacher and famous Czech animator Michaela Pavlátová about his participation in the official Cannes line-up.

Michaela Pavlátová: Are you there?


Jan Saska: Yes.


MP: So, are you finally happy? Do you realise how big this is?

JS: You mean Cannes?

MP: Sure.

JS: Yes, I am. And yes, I do)

MP: How was the idea for Happy End born?

JS: Happy End is an adaptation of a joke that a friend once told me at university in Zlín.
I remember I didn’t even laugh too much back then, but I liked the structure and 
immediately had a visual idea of the situations. Then one day I needed a fi lm idea at
university, and I decided to use it. When I transcribed it onto a storyboard, I realised it
was all silent, except for one verbal reaction, at the end. That’s where the disordered 
structure of the fi lm originated. I wanted to avoid the verbal punch line and to be able to
narrate the whole thing just with images... which turned out to have added value.

MP: Why didn’t you finish Happy End in Zlín?

JS: In Zlín it was impossible for me to stretch my studies any further, and the whole
film had to be ready in one year. The animatic I made then was not perfect, but it
worked and was kind of funny thanks to the imperfect way it was drawn – with 
a computer mouse, actually.

MP: With a mouse?! That’s great! It will be in all your interviews!

JS: :) Even greater was the surprise I experienced while transforming the animatic
into the final film. I thought I would just take the whole thing and colour it, improve
some details, while the animation and timing would remain unchanged. But I found
that when drawn in more detail, with a background in the shot that increases the
volume of visual information, the viewer would need more time to orientate himself.
And so I had to animate it all over again with different timing, more accuracy, etc.

MP: If you didn’t have to think about making money, what would you like to do in
your life? Apart from thinking about nothing, drinking beer, watching films, 
drawing, reading books and going to New Zealand?

JS: I like what I am doing a lot. I am very fortunate, and here I have to mention that
it is thanks to my parents that I can do what I do. But I am a bit sorry that, although 
I’m moving in that direction, too, animation is in fact becoming an office job. In a
sense you sit at the computer and create something through it. That’s why I like
comics so much, because paper is still involved a lot, and you can take the whole 
thing and go to the garden with it, or somewhere. Moreover, I find it very similar to film,
animated fi lm in particular. I think the experience and knowledge gained is really
valuable, for example regarding editing, framing etc. But drinking beer and watching
films is great, of course! And New Zealand, at least for a couple of weeks, will happen
one day, too.

MP: I have one more question about animation – its usefulness or uselessness.
Apart from liking to do it, why are we doing it?

JS: I start from the other end. I was always interested in animation, and fortunately
already during my childhood it was possible to somehow practise it at home. I mean
the technology was already available, so I just jumped in without thinking. Many
people liked film and often tried to shoot something. But I find a huge advantage of
animation that it is created as a film, but a creator can in fact be an asocial person,
without needing anybody else, at least at the beginning. Later you have to work in
a team as well. (I didn’t mean to make animation a discipline for weirdos, though.)

MP: But animation IS for weirdos, mostly. Although not all of us are asocial, we are always holed up
somewhere, we are selfi sh about our surroundings, family and friends, because we need a lot of
time alone.

JS: It’s true that sometimes you are more or less driven to be asocial, although
you are not like that by nature. But some people are naturally asocial, and it’s
great that even these people can make a film, which is otherwise a collective work 
involving dozens of professions. For example, I would never be able to lead actors,
make others believe in my idea, which is just formulated in my head. The core of it
all is that animation enables us to play, without immediately having to carry the
whole weight of responsibility for the crew and money invested. You can take the
project quite far in sketches and ideas as part of a tentative search, and mostly with 
much greater control. 

MP: Simply said, the feeling of being God, the creator. Without you, there will be nothing. Is that
what you mean?

JS: Yes, that too. The feeling that something comes to life under your hands is great.

MP: The fi nal question: Can you remember at least one thing I taught you as your teacher?

JS: Yes. For me it was the playfulness. You just do something you enjoy and...

MP: ...and then you go to Cannes!

JS: Yes! Exactly.

Michaela Pavlátová

Famous Czech animator and Jan Saska’s teacher. The awards she received for her animated short film Repete include the Golden Bear, the Special Jury Prize at Annecy and the Grand Prix at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival. She won the Annecy Cristal in 2012 for her short fi lm Tram, which was also shortlisted for an Academy Award and shown in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2012.

 

 

Jan Saska

Student of Michaela Pavlátová at FAMU whose animated short fi lm Happy End is included in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight section.

 

 

 

 

 

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