Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nils Frahm: Re + Interview With Director/Animator Balázs Simon

Balázs Simon

Nils Frahm

Usually an artist, a band or a label will commission a music clip from a director. In the case of the stunning instrumental piece "Re" by 32-year-old German musician/composer/producer Nils Frahm from his acclaimed 2012 album 'Screws', it was director/animator Balázs Simon who decided to approach Berlin-based Frahm and London label Erased Tapes with his idea for a video. Fortunately, he got the green light from both and went on to create a hauntingly beautiful work of art which I feel is reminiscent of two of my favorite films, Hayao Mizazaki's Spirited Away (2001) and Disney's original Bambi (1942), yet at the same time is utterly unique.

After stumbling across Simon's video by pure coincidence last week, I Googled his name and found an excellent interview (see link below), done at this year's SXSW festival where his video was screened three times. Still hungry for more information, I contacted the 24-year-old Budapest-based director/animator via his Vimeo page and he graciously agreed to do a Q&A by email.

Q:  I'm not sure how to interpret the video. Is it a metaphoric narrative about loss, fear and healing as some viwers on YouTube have suggested? Or is it a science fiction tale about our planet's disintegration? Or something entirely different? And what or who does the stag represent?
A:  I usually don't talk about that. Let's say it's inspired by personal experiences, but I tried to capture them in a more allegoric way. If it means loss or healing to some, great! Somebody said it's about different religions, another guy told me it's a reflection of the current social-political state in Hungary. It can mean different things; I kinda like that.

Q:  When did you first do computer animation?
A:   I started 3D animation before doing anything 2D, like using Photoshop. I was 16 if I remember correctly, and the learning curve was extremely steep. I had no real idea what I was doing, but I enjoyed it and the habit stayed with me. So after a few years I decided not to study engineering (my original goal), but to pursue animation. One of the best decisions I think.

Q:  Who or what inspires you?
A:   Real life events and people. I mean, I admire a lot of artists (like Roger Deakins or Alex Webb), but I always base my stories on personal experiences.

Q:  What was Nils Frahm's reaction to the video when it was finished?
A:   I was really happy: both he and his label really liked it!

Q:  Are there many animators in Hungary?
A:  Many animators, few original projects though. A lot of people work in international productions. But Hungarian animation has always been outstanding. I really recommend our short films repertoire.

Q:  Do you make a full-time living from your art?
A:  Yes, fortunately. Sometimes I feel like I don't have enough time for personal projects though, but that might change in the near future.

Q:  What projects are you currently working on?
A:   Most of the time I'm doing main title sequences and channel idents, but there are also a couple of personal films in the works. Don't expect them to be finished in the next few months though; they're still in pre-production.