How would you define cinema in a sentence or two? If the intention is to lure a neophyte
into a completely unknown territory.
For me cinema is the best communication there is, even bigger than the verbal language. It’s a combination of moving images, storytelling, vision and music, which is the best way of telling a good story. It is a dream coming true.
Who has been the most influential director in your life?
Tim Burton, he is such fantastic at directing movies about alienation in a great way.
What would be that one movie you would want everyone to watch?
A movie that I want everyone to watch is a movie about an autistic person who wants to be a part of society, who wants to live a life without having a disability that prevents the autistic person to be considered of a less worth. A movie that helps people to understand autistic people better and autistic traits better in order to help more people to live the life as they want.
Tell us something about the concept. It appeared quite innovative and profound.
When it comes to the noir feeling of the film I was inspired by Frank Miller’s ”Sin City” and Alan Moore’s Batman comic book ”The Killing Joke”. The inspiration for Tim transforming into a dog was coming from my favorite Manga and Anime ”One Piece” created by Eiichiro Oda where many characters could transform from human beings to animals, which I find very awesome. I grew up watching Tim Burton’s movies and he is my idol. I thought he did a fantastic job telling stories about how it was to be different. My dream was to be like him when I grew up. His gothic movies like Edward Scissorhands inspired me very much when I made “Being a Dog”.
One could read the tales of Kafka, the poems of Auden and Eliot in the poem. There is a
perpetual sense of loneliness in the movie. Don’t you think?
Yes there is a sense of loneliness in the movie. I think loneliness is a human condition. Everyone gets a bit of it in in life. And then there is solitude – a nicer loneliness that one can choose.
Every time Tim transforms into a dog he feels more different than others and everything turns into grayscale around him. Every time he feels like everybody else, he transforms into a human being and everything turns into color around him. Being human has it´s advantages but eventually so has “Being a dog”. I want people to see that sometimes it’s good being different than others. The solitude of being a dog is soothing.
I have felt different than others for too long and I was very sad that my Autism diagnosis limited me from living a social school and work life as I wanted for a long time. For me it felt like it was impossible to live a life as I wanted and I felt as if everything around me was in grayscale. I also wanted to share the love with someone and it felt I was searching for a mission impossible. So if you wonder what the idea of Tim breaking up with Ginger as a friend really comes from, you got the answer.
Every time I felt I lived life as I wanted it to be or I met someone that I liked very much, I saw colors all around me. That was the inspiration that led me to this aesthetic choice.
Can you elaborate the title for us. When and how did you come up with it?
When I did the comic book at “Skarpnäcks Folkhögskola” it was called “Tim”. The inspiration for the title came from Tim Burton’s short “Vincent” from 1982. Tim Burton called his short animation Vincent because he had Vincent Price as his idol. I called my comic book “Tim” because Tim Burton is my idol.
When I finished my short film, in the end Tim says: “Sometimes it’s good being a dog.”
I think the whole movie was about just being a dog as a symbol of being different. That is how I elaborated the title for this movie from “Tim” to “Being a dog”.
How much time did it take you to complete the screenplay? Was it smooth sailing?
Well I used my comic book as both a storyboard and a screenplay for my film. I think for me it took six months full time. I had an idea, and sketches for the comic book and the right tools for the drawings, scanner and a photoshop then I wrote the text and mixed the pictures for the comic book. So I would say it was a fairly smooth sailing.
Tell us something about the animation in the movie. The images, the structures appear
different and well done.
When I did the 2D animation for the film, I used the software TvPaint.
When I grew up watching 2D animations I found them better than 3D animations, which I do not always find charming at all. I always thought it was exciting to see how pencil drawings come to life and when I created ”Being a dog” I saw it more as a 2D animated short film in front of me than a 3D animation short film. I wanted the film to have a resemblance to comic books instead of trying to make everything realistic. There are some pieces in “Being a Dog” in 3D animations. The rain and the thunder effects at the beginning of the film were in 3D created with Blender, a 3D software. Some rain and rain drops effects was also created in another software called Adobe After Effects. So I was in a process of trying to mix up 3D effects with 2D animations in a good way when I did “Being a dog”. Making the 2D look better rather than trying to make everything in 3D.
The protagonist in the story plays a significant in bringing out the myriad complexities
bothering mankind. Did you create the character having that in mind? The fact that he
would become the mirror for all mankind.
When I created the character I actually had that in mind. I wanted to tell a story about how it is to be different from my perspective, how it is to be a human being from my point of view, and how alienation can be overcome. Everyone says that a dog is a human being's best friend but I want people to see that the autistic person is the human being's best friend instead of being seen as a problem. Also I think no matter what diagnosis. All humans are afraid, feel love and anger and hopefully overcome obstacles.
You have touched upon a number of tropes including friendship, love, heartbreak etc.
They have all been well used. Was it difficult incorporating these themes in the narrative?
Yes it was difficult incorporating these themes in the narrative. I think that every good story has love, friendship and maybe heartbreak in it. You need to understand what you want to say with the themes. Then the storyboard will show the characters and the mood. And then everything starts moving. It’s challenging and takes a lot of time but when you are finished with the story, it is very much rewarding to see the whole thing.
Tell us something about the technical aspects like editing and sound design. How
important is it today for any kind of cinema?
Before I started to edit the movie, I had some voice actors to do the voice over for my characters in the movie. That was the first step before animating/editing the whole movie.
I had a great cooperation with Henry Lindén with the editing.
I learned a lot in the film process. First we picked up all the kinds of music and sound effects from youtube and freesound as preparation for how the film is going to sound in the end. After that, Caspar did the music, Fabian did the sound effects and Max mixed the sound effects. There were quite a few trials back and forth. Then I tried to mix the voices, the music, and the sound effects in the best way.
Do you see drama declining as a genre? What would be the things drama must learn and
implement in order to survive and thrive again?
I don´t see that drama is declining as a genre. Maybe mix drama with other genre such as adventure, action, comedy or science-fiction for example. I believe that maybe people think drama is a boring genre because drama is a bit “heavy” and tend to make people cry and feel sad. People might not want to take a risk of feeling that. So mixing with other genres would make drama survive and thrive better. Humor is always a good thing.
Where do you see Cinema going in the next twenty years?
Streaming sites like Netflix and Viaplay are huge so more and more people want to see films at streaming services more than cinema. So I believe that cinema will be developing into streaming services in the future. I also think that people have shorter and shorter attention spam so I think that we will see shorter formats and shorter stories.
It´s good for the film industry that there are many different streaming sites developing originals.
Maybe Cinema will go in a different direction.
VR is more and more useful so we might experience VR movies in cinemas. AI is interesting as well. There is music sampling and there will be picture sampling as well. Animation takes time
so it would be great if AI could speed it up a bit.