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Femme Filmmakers Festival: Daniéla de Lange talks to Filmotomy about diving into Animation

With the Femme Filmmakers Festival taking to the deep end, now five days in, animation director Daniéla de Lange stopped by, to answer some of our questions about her quirky short film, The Diver. Read on and check out our review published earlier.

Robin: Tell us about some of your favorite animation shows or films as a child.

Daniéla: I’d have to say my ultimate favorite animated show definitely is “Courage the Cowardly Dog” and later “Samurai Jack”. The artistry is fantastic, but what gripped me most about both was their concept and story. One (Courage) a very simple premise, repeating every episode. And the other (Samurai Jack) wasn’t only visually rich but had an absolutely captivating story. My favorite animated films straight up have always been Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc & Spirited Away.

Robin: When did you realise you wanted to make animations?

Daniéla: My parents took me, my sister and brother to Disney World, Orlando, Florida in 2003. I was 13 at the time and one thing, above how amazing Disney World was, that has always stuck with me, was when we visited an exhibit that showed videos of the production of Brother Bear. I was hooked, obsessed actually. And despite where I was from, demographically knew I was hell-bent on finding a way of becoming an animator. To be honest. It has taken me a while to get to a point where I could start animating and start producing work of quality. But I am so grateful for my journey thus far, because it has all influenced who I am and who I’d like to be as an animator.

Robin: Is The Diver in any way autobiographical?

Daniéla de LangeDaniéla: The Diver has a lot to do with me and how I work from a creative perspective. It definitely was the foundation of inspiration. I was waiting for sleep to come one night when I was perplexed by the notion that night after night, day after day, in every possible spare second I had, I was working on something. It was and still is difficult. The moment of creation where possibilities are infinite is just so overwhelming. And it takes time, perseverance and commitment to see it through. I started with a rough idea in June 2017 which only got published in May 2018. Whilst I was making it, one of the few thoughts that kept me going, was that I was sure that I cannot be the only one doing this. Feeling like this. Committing like this. The Diver was the best way to find out.

Ultimately The Diver is about something we all share. Something that is unavoidably universal and beautiful and a question we must all face. Do you have the courage to dive?

Robin: Have you had any strange interpretations from people about what The Diver is about?

Daniéla: To be honest. My biggest fear with The Diver was that it would be misunderstood. But, to my absolute delight, it has been understood in the way I intended since it was shared and this is, I think, because it is relatable.

If you think about it. It doesn’t really matter what you do after hours. Wether its diving, singing, reading, music or whatever. It’s irrelevant. What is relevant, is the time, effort, thought, love and endurance with which you practice. With which you commit and ultimately with which you feel. I am truly grateful of how it has been received and understood.

Robin: Why this style of animation for The Diver?

Daniéla: This is a really rad question. The main reason is because, not only is animation what I can do and could do with the means I had, but ultimately it’s because animation, for me, has always been honest. Honest in the creation of movement and subtleties. Honest in the fact that there are 12 principles that it is based on, and depending on how you use them, you can creative beautiful motion. And most importantly honest in the character.

The Diver isn’t an actress portraying or fulfilling the role of someone else. It is just her, created and existing for this moment, with no other intent than to sneak into a pool in the early hours of the morning to do what she truly loves and wishes to share with no other. To bask in a few minutes of true freedom of self.

Daniéla de Lange

Robin: What other types of animation have you worked with, and want to work with?

Daniéla: I’ve only ever been involved in Tradigital animation. I have been educated as a Graphic Designer, but whilst studying I already branched into the multimedia sphere and started sprinting towards animation and motion design.

I’ve always wanted to try “cell animation”. And I say “cell animation” in inverted commas because I’d been doing it digitally and not on paler or on cells. The Diver was my first time “cell” animating and it was an insanely difficult, crazy steep and fun learning curve. All of the water was animated in this way and it is definitely a part of animation I am focusing on exploring at the moment.

Robin: What was the collaboration process on the film? Who did what? Time scales?

Daniéla: Ok this one is crazy. This project ran for 11 months. It ran over weekends and evenings after work until the early hours.

I contacted Fran [Labuschagne] right after I had the concept sorted with a rough script, a silly excuse of a storyboard and a little money. She worked wonders. She literally did the illustrations within a week. Then it was just me until around April 2018. By that time I was almost done and made contact wit Matthew regarding around production (I’d made a little more extra money by then freelancing in between as well). He did the music and sounds in the last 4 weeks of the project as I was busy finishing up the water. It’s been one insane journey.

Daniéla de Lange

Robin: Which female filmmakers do you currently love?

Daniéla: I think it’s important to say, that I obsess and admire more independent female animators, illustrators & creatives who work on films and short animations and projects more than completely independent filmmakers. These women are absolutely inspirational and are pivotal in transforming our industry from a male dominated sphere to one of balance. Yukai Du, Maaike Bakker, Justina Stasik, Abbey Lossing & Leta Sobierajski. My ultimate female creative role models are Debbi Millman & Marina Abramović.

Robin: Have you been following the Femme Filmmakers Festival?

Daniéla: I have yes, but I am ashamed to say it’s only been since this year. Nevertheless I am super happy to have found the festival and am intent on supporting it going forward.

Robin: Can you tell us about your next project?

Daniéla: Oh yes I am so excited. I am currently in the conceptual and development phase of another short film. It is about being creative and the trials and tribulations one faces internally when you have the opportunity to create whatever you want. Thus far, the working title is “White Paper” but that might change. I am also hoping that this one ends up being a bit longer. But we will see what happens as it grows.

Thank you so much Robin. This has been so great sharing. Thanks for having me and for your time.

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