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Rotkind - My Journey as a Director and Set Designer

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Rotkind 1

My Journey as a

DIRECTOR & SET DESIGNER

ANEJ GOLČAR

WdKA 2022


My Journey as a

DIRECTOR & SET DESIGNER

by

ANEJ GOLČAR

Rotterdam 2022





6 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

7

About Rotkind

Rotkind is a short stop-motion animated film produced by

Anej Golčar, Eva Schets and Tatevik Martirosyan.

1Rotkind

THE STORY

60-year-old Harold still lives with his elderly

mother Hendrina. She has been an authoritarian

mother who has always put her passions above her

son. As a result, Harold still believes he depends

on her and cannot make autonomous decisions.

The figure of a revolting and disrespectful teenage

neighbor awakens Harold’s desire to emancipate

right before his mother passes away. Now,

abruptly liberated Harold, steps upon a path of

coming to terms with his independence, leaving

behind Hendrina’s rules and money.

PROJECT FORMAT

Technique: puppet animation - stop-motion

Technical information: 4K DCI FLAT

Runtime: 7’ 30”

Language: Dutch, English subtitled

Genre: Drama, Absurd



8 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

9

Director’s Vision

The Creative Team

Years ago, I stumbled upon an

article in the crime section of

a local newspaper. “Grisly: A

Man Hid his Mother’s Corpse

for Years to Keep Receiving

Her Pension.” Grisly indeed,

I thought, but as much as I

wanted, I couldn’t get it out

of my mind. Who is this man?

What was going through his

mind? The harder I tried to

forget all about it, the more

questions I had.

The newspaper article was one

of those brief fun-fact crime

reports - gruesome, yet evoking

some sort of odd delight in

readers; unable to refrain from

gossiping in disdain. But it

leaves us in the air. It’s a cue,

not an answer, ending with:

“the police investigation is

still in progress.” But they

never bother to report on the

outcomes.

If they weren’t going to satisfy

my hunger for answers, there

was only one resort left;

imagination. Maybe the son

couldn’t let go because he was

afraid of changes, worse yet,

he didn’t even accept she was

dead. But sooner or later, the

body decay would have run its

course, and he would have had

to deal with it in some way or

the other. If not for his own

well-being, then to keep his

secret private.

Something about this story

intrigued me immensely,

despite its undeniable

repulsiveness. I had to tell it,

and I came to believe stopmotion

animation is the

best medium to convey it.

Among others, it has a great

potential for a textural and

almost organic, true-to-life

(or perhaps deathlike and

uncanny) appearance. The use

of real-life materials lit by the

small-scale, theatrical lighting

and macro photography; all

contribute to a certain uncanny,

unsettling atmosphere. With

iterations, the story morphed

into a psychological portrait,

dealing with themes of grief,

fear of changes, and emotional

emancipation.

ANEJ GOLČAR,

Director, writer & set designer

Film is a collaborative art form.

No one is great at everything, and there is only so much

you can do alone in a given time frame. Having learned

this during my previous creative efforts, I made sure to

surround myself with talented and diligent collaborators

well before the start of production.

EVA SCHETS,

Lead animator & puppet designer

TATEVIK MARTIROSYAN

Creative producer & digital compositor

Next to the core group of three, we had a great number of

other collaborators and assistants working on our project.

Sound designer:

Music composer:

Costume designer:

Script consultant and translator:

Prop-making assistants:

Annie Winter

Anja Lobnik

Simone Kraaijveld

Marieke Swinkels

Luna Schreuder

Nina Hauser

Magdalena Souyris

Andzhela Kantardzhieva

Maria Dubec



10 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

11

Preproduction

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

2

Preproduction

THUMBNAILS (small & quick sketches)

are a great tool in animation writer’s arsenal.

Instead of sitting in front of a blank page, it

enables you to start visually experimenting

with the story beats.



12 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

13

Screenplay

Animatic

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential, given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.

ANIMATIC

vs the final still frames



14 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

15

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.

HAROLD

Design experiment

SET MOCK-UP: 3D MODEL

3d modeling software enables quick testing

of new ideas and the scale of the set.

HENDRINA

Design experiment

(made by Eva Schets)

CARDBOARD MOCK-UP SET

Before our set shined in its current glory, it existed as this

everything but pretty cardboard mock-up. Despite its rough

appearance, it served as an unmissable aid in designing the

final set.



16 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

17

The Framework

The set framework has to be sturdy to prevent unintentional moves

during the animation process. At the same time, it has to allow for

the quick removal of each separate wall for easy camera access. This

turned out to be quite an engineering challenge.

PRECISION MODELING IN CAD SOFTWARE

enabled a streamlined design process.

While it takes some time to produce high quality

technical drawings, they surely pay off by

preventing any calculation errors.



18 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

19

Building the Walls

Saws, drilling bits, bolts, and wood glue. No, constructing a

set is not a piece of cake. But with good plans, it only takes

some love and patience. And of course professional support

from wood station tutors.



20 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

21

Screenplay

Inspiration

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.

Pictures are simply not enough when it comes to stop-motion

set inspiration material. Field trips are incomparably more

fruitful ways to gain a sense of textures and materials. While

some filmmakers have to travel thousands of kilometers in

search of inspiration, we only had to visit our grandmas and

some vintage stores.

VINTAGE STORES

can be a great source of inspiration and you might even

leave with a prop or two in your hands.

COLOR MATCHING

the wall paint. A blob of white mixed with a touch

of burnt sienna, it turns out.



22 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

23

Construction Works

Painting the walls and laying down the flooring is a lot like

working on a life-sized apartment. We went shopping for a

carpet and spent hours finding a perfect shade for our walls.

Don’t be fooled by the small scale of the set, so are the

parquet tiles!

MATERIALS & TECHNIQUES

had to be selected and developed before working on the

actual set. In many instances, there are no fool-proof tested

methods, books or tutorials to rely on. The only way to

develop the perfect technique is through series of trial and

error.



24 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

25

Screenplay

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.

A MIXTURE OF SAND AND GLUE

was used to create the rough wall texture.

TO REPLICATE THE LOOK OF OILED PARQUET -

well you need to oil it!

EACH TILE

was cut from a mahogany veneer sheet and glued to the

floor. By using an iron, I prevented bending and sped up

the process.



26 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

27

Preproduction

Weathering

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

Textures, surface imperfections, dirt, and smudges all

contribute to the believability and visual appeal of a set. Since

sets usually consist of fresh and new materials, a designer

needs to reverse engineer the aging process. This is called

weathering and can be achieved through the use of colors and

abrasive tools.

STEEL BRUSH was used to create believable wood

texture in the otherwise smooth and soft surface of balsa

wood.

DILUTED WOOD STAIN creates the look of aged cherry

wood.



28 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

29

Preproduction

The Nightmare Set

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

Our “nightmare set” required an experimental approach. To

achieve the rough texture, I sculpted a layer of concrete over

the wooden framework. Then I painted it with black acrylic

paint and finished it with clear-coat varnish. Afterward, I

dressed it in layers of red-colored glue varnish resulting in an

unsettling clammy environment.

“THE NIGHTMARE SET” IN THE MAKING - Glue will turn

transparent when set.



30 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

31



32 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

33

The Umbilical Cord

Furniture

The translucent look of the umbilical cord attached to

Harold’s belly button in the nightmare scene was achieved

by layering thin coats of latex over a painted and twisted

aluminum wire.

Designing the miniature furniture demands the same level of

precision as making the walls of the set. Most of the furniture

pieces were made by hand; however, due to the complexity,

some were cut using a laser cutter.



34 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

35



36 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

37

Preproduction

Screenplay

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.



38 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

39

Preproduction

Screenplay

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.



40 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

41

Preproduction

Getting Help

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

Building and decorating a stop-motion set like ours requires

hundreds of man-hours and could hardly be achieved on my

own in the given time frame. Luckily we were helped by five

assistants who focused on the books, vases, and armchairs.

Tatevik and I briefed the assistants on their tasks, provided

reference material, and guided them through technically more

demanding tasks. Often, the assistants were free to propose

their own designs based on the general guidelines.

WITH OUR PROP ASSISTANTS

Left: HELP PLEASE posters I designed for distribution

around the academy resulted in us finding our sound

designer (AV student), costume designer (fashion student)

and prop assistant (graphic design student.)



42 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

43

Preproduction

Screenplay

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.



44 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

45

Preproduction

Screenplay

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.

CERAMIC PROPS MADE BY ANDZHELA AND MAGDALENA.



46 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

47

Setting the Scene

Before Eva began animating each shot, I would carry out

tasks that would in a live-action production be performed by

the lighting department and director of photography. I set up

the lights, chose the appropriate lens, exposure, and camera

angle. In the meantime, Eva made sure the puppets were

rigged and in the correct position.

3

Production



48 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

49

Preproduction

Screenplay

With a great number of reliable collaborators working in their

respective fields, I had an opportunity to focus on writing,

directing, and set-designing.

My role as a director/writer started in October of 2021 with

writing the first drafts of the story. After presenting them to

Tatevik, we decided to collaborate. Soon after we presented

the story to Eva and the preproduction officially began.

During the writing process, I consulted seasoned

professionals. Their feedback was essential given that this is

my first character-driven animation script. I reached out to

the scenario department at the Nederlandse Filmacademie

and they connected me with the wonderful Marieke Swinkels,

who not only helped with translating the dialogues to Dutch

but also provided insightful feedback.



50 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

51

Acting It Out!

Working With Actors

To help convey my vision of an action, I would usually record

a reference video. Additionally, we would verbally discuss the

ideas and practicalities of specific actions before Eva began

animating.

Directing the voice performances was a vital part of my role

as a director. We worked with four actors with varying levels

of experience and I had to adjust my style of directing to

suit their needs. Experienced actors usually proposed their

interpretations and I only needed to provide explanations

of the inner motivations of the character. The novice actors

required a more steered approach.

WITH KATJA VAN DER SANDT (Rick’s mum) AND TICO ROVERS (Rick)

during and after our first recording session.

ANNIE, OUR

SOUND

DESIGNER

helped with the

technical side

of the recording

sessions.



52 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

53

Color Correction / Grading

I took care to properly expose and light the shots in the

production stages. However, taking pictures in RAW format

enabled me to further tweak the values in post-production for

continuity and visual appeal. I also tweaked the colors and

accents to elevate the storytelling properties of certain shots.

4

Post-production



54 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

55

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.



56 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

57

Design

Directed & written by Animated by Produced by

Set design

Distinct but fitting graphic elements can help ground the art

direction of a film. The two typographies and two colors that

together form the visual identity of our movie each represent

one of the two main characters.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.

Hendrina

Harold

PURPLE AND YELLOW are consistently present throughout the art direction of our film.

Think of the purple walls of Hendrina’s bedroom, her dress, new vase and wallet. Yellow

reminds of the off-white living room walls, wooden furniture and morning light that is

present in many of the shots.

Hendrina: Door Janssen Polanen, Harold: Juus Piek, Rick: Tico Rovers, Rick’s Mother: Katja van der Sandt, Music Composer:

Anja Lobnik, Sound Design & Foley Artist: Annie Winter, Script Consultant & Translator: Marieke Swinkels, Puppet Design:

Eva Schets, Sets/Props Design: Anej Golčar, Digital Compositor: Tatevik Martirosyan, Costume Design: Simone Kraaijeveld,

Sets & Props Assistants: Luna Schreuder, Nina Hauser, Magdalena Souyris, Andzhela Kantardzhieva, Maria Dubec, Lights:

Anej Golčar, Robin Tijdeman, Additional Animation: Anej Golčar



58 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

59

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.



60 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

61

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.



62 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

63

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.



64 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

65

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.



66 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

67

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.



68 MY JOURNEY AS A DIRECTOR AND SET DESIGNER

Rotkind

69

Preliminary Designs

Set design

Preliminary designs are a vital component of preproduction.

They provide us with a better spatial understanding of

the environment where the film will be taking place. Both

preliminary characters, as well as sets, are employed in the

process of making the animatic.

Stop-motion set design demands the utmost attention to

detail and tests the limits of your planning skills. An error

made early on in the production can result in major setbacks

later on. Therefore, precision and continuous testing are

essential.


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