The harmony of a DUO

Janis Aussel

Janis Aussel was born in Paris, where she has been studying applied arts and animation. She is one of the directors of Duo, a thesis film made at the Gobelins animation school in Paris. She is passionate about design, art, craft, and illustration, and loves doing things by hand. In Duo, for example, she built all the miniature furniture using papercut and cardboard. She recently completed her animation program, and is currently working on various projects involving her passion for storytelling, color, and design.

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Hi Janis! Let’s start with a simple question: how did DUO come to mind?

From the beginning, we were pursuing various ideas for the screenplay, several of which concerned the entertainment world. We were interested in the idea that what happens on stage differs from real life. We pursued different contexts theater, cinema, TV; the relationship between a director and his actors; the difference between a director as an individual and what his work look like on screen; all the different aspects of what it is to pretend in front of the spotlights to become another person, and so on… I’m personally passionate about dance, and thought that this sort of world could be an inspiration. We thought about acrobats because of the risk inherent in the work, and the danger of the performance could emphasize the importance of perseverance on stage. So we visited a circus academy and met some acrobats to look for inspiration in their experience and stories.

Did you write the screenplay together with the other directors?

At the beginning of the year there were six of us on the team (Aron arrived in France in January), and we worked together to develop our ideas. We would write different drafts and submit them to the others over a period of three or four weeks. But in the end we decided it would be easier with fewer people writing the final screenplay, so we ended up with some of us working more on concept art while others were writing and drawing the storyboards.

 

“Challenges will probably always come up when several people work together, but nobody fell from a red rope!”

SLV_DUO_couple

 

 

What was your role and what role di Aron, Elsa, Mapie, Dorian, Laurent and Guitty have?

I worked on the screenplay, and also did preproduction art (I did color work and concepts for the backgrounds), set fabrication (I built the main elements of the set), digital background paintings for the stage scenes, character animation, and compositing. Aron worked on the set fabrication, lighting, and photography; and also worked on the color and compositing. Elsa worked on the screenplay, storyboards, and animation. Mapie did the character designs and worked on the animation. Dorian and Laurent worked on the screenplay, storyboards, and animation. Guitty did concept art and also worked on animation and set fabrication (she built the miniature props).

 

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Miniature Set in the making

You’ve built real miniature sets; why didn’t you create them digitally like the protagonists?

The main reason was that Aron, an exchange student from CalArts in Los Angeles, had done a lot of stopmotion, and we wanted to explore this technique in working with him. I was very interested because I like stopmotion, but it’s not a technique frequently used at our school. So it was an opportunity to develop this technique, and above all to find an artistic way to integrate traditional animation and physical sets. It was also interesting to build our world as fake sets, just as we were talking about the pretend reality of the theater.

In the short-film the alternation of warm tone scenes and cool ones is very effective; what’s the role of colors in the short?

The role of color in our film was to separate the two different worlds we were talking about: the world of the stage, which is a quiet blue, where everything seems perfect and harmonious; and the other world, the dressing room, full of tension and burning with the emotions which are driving the duo apart. The color helps differentiate between the stage and the dressing room, but as the story progresses we see the red and blue begin to blur…

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was the beginning, when we were narrowing it down to a single idea to pursue, and making the storyboards cohesive with many different points of view and different cinematographic ways to tell the story.

Making Of Mapie DEMESSANT DUO

Video and music work very good together! How was it working with Laurent Courbier?

It was very cool, Laurent Courbier is a great artist and very professional, he had worked with Gobelins students before. We had some good conversations with him, and went through several versions of the music before settling on one. And working with him allowed us to record with a cellist, which was great!

The harmony of “your” DUO is broken but, by watching your work, it seems your group worked pefeclty in sync: were there any challenges working together?

There were seven of us, so occasionally there would be tension or misunderstanding, but nothing very important, and we finished the film without any big disputes. Challenges will probably always come up when several people work together, but nobody fell from a red rope!

How is the public responding to the short? Do you have any plans for it?

The public seems to like the film, which we’re very happy about! We’ve just gotten word of our first festival selections, which has been nice after all the work that went into it!

“The role of color in our film was to separate the two different worlds we were talking about, as the story progresses we see the red and blue begin to blur…”

 

SLV_DUO_couple2

VIDEO CREDITS

Court-métrage d’animation de fin d’études (promotion 2014).

Réalisateurs : Janis AUSSEL, Elsa BOYER, Marie-Pierre DEMESSANT, Dorian LEE, Laurent MOING, Guitty MOJABI, Aron BOTHMAN

Synopsis : L’harmonie d’un duo d’acrobates est brisée par la décision d’un des membres de débuter une carrière solo. Elles montent malgré tout une dernière fois sur scène, unies sous la lumière des projecteurs.

A duo of acrobats go onstage one last time, united under the spotlights even as their harmony backstage is broken.

Contact Production :GOBELINS, l’école de l’image : Moïra Marguin, mmarguin@gobelins.fr.

Contact Festival :GOBELINS, l’école de l’image : Luce Grosjean, film@gobelins.fr.

Distribution : La distribution des films produits par GOBELINS, l’école de l’image est assurée par L’Agence du court métrage.
Contact : f.keller@agencecm.com.