Elise The’s beautiful and haunting animated video—”Synchronize”—was an Official Selection at the Disposable Film Fest 2012. The film is visually and narratively complex,and definitely worth more than one viewing. The story behind the movie is also interesting, as Elise reveals in the following interview.
MMM: How long have you been making movies?
Elise: I’ve been making movies since I was about 19. I remember trying to make a fan video of Reboot, one of my favourite TV shows when I was a kid. I didn’t post the video anywhere though, because there was no Youtube. I would find fan videos on Napster or Kazaa. It seems ages ago now.
MMM: What drew you to this field?
Elise: I was always interested in doing something artistic. As kid I would day and night dream about my favourite movie- & cartoon characters. I would sometimes scare myself during the night. I was restless as a child when I was put to bed by my parents, because I was afraid. Once I understood that I could create own my animation or TV show one day, I could be in control of my own imagination. Drawing was a big hobby of mine and for a while I wanted to be a comic artist as well. Later on I grew into loving movies. So this shifted into filmmaking.
MMM: How did you develop your craft? For example, did you attend film school? Were there any books that helped?
Elise: I studied Image and Media Technology at Utrecht School of the Arts, before that I studied Multimedia design at Graphics School in Zwolle. I’ve learned to make use of all kinds of programs: after effects, premiere/final cut pro, photoshop, illustrator, and TV Paint. Which is handy, because you need that to go hand in hand with your creative ideas. The most important thing I’ve learned is how to conceptualise. I discovered that I actually like to make experimental videos rather than conventional ones. I always thought I would do more regular stuff.
MMM: What filmmakers have influenced you?
Elise: I grew up watching a lot of cartoons and my absolute favourite is Batman: the animated series. That show had a massive impact on me. It made me want to get into animation or become a comic artist. That show taught me about great storytelling, originality, emotion, themes and beautiful animation at a young age. It also dealt with a lot of adult issues like addiction, mafia, trauma, illness and death. It was pretty heavy and dark stuff for a kid’s cartoon.
I was around 9 when I saw the first episode and became a fan a year later. That’s how I became a Batman fan. So thank you Bruce Timm and Paul Dini the creators of the show!
Years later at the academy, my art teacher was showing some experimental videos and he showed me “Fast film” by Virgil Widrich. I wasn’t into it at the time. I thought I would be more interested in traditional stuff, but boy was I wrong. For some reason I kept thinking about that film. It kind of grew on me. Years later I made my experimental film “Synchronize”which is similar to “Fast Film.” Sometimes things don’t turned out the way you thought.
MMM: Where did you get the idea to make “Synchronize”?
Elise: It came from a bunch a things put together. I set a few goals before I started the my graduation project. I wanted to:
- make a experimental film for my graduation project
- explore rotoscoping with TV Paint
- make a found footage film from my favourite Hollywood movies
- show how powerful the imagery of movies can be in your mind
And also when I was a kid I used to record sounds from my favourite TV shows and movies with my first Sony. And I played the tape during my sleep in the hope that I would dream about it. Because I wanted to be in the world of my favourite characters. At the time it used to be a big secret of mine, because it felt really embarrassed about it. I didn’t want my friends to think I was weird. Now I’m actually proud that I did that. It made very creative.
And all these aspects brewed into the idea of “Synchronize.”
MMM: Is there any reason you used mobile devices given that you shot mostly with the Sony Handycam?
Elise: I owned a Sony Handycam, because it was the cheapest and for it’s price the best video recorder in the store within my budget range. I had to make my film in the cheapest way possible and using found footage was a great solution. Unless If i had to play for any copyrights, but it was made for school purposes so it was totally fine.
MMM: Was there any big problem that you encountered in the production?
Elise: Synchronize was my graduation project so I was working with a deadline. Two weeks before deadline my Macbook Pro’s motherboard broke down. It wouldn’t turn it on again. I went to the Macstore and miraculously it worked again. So I took my chance to make a quick backup. After that it was completely done and I had to get it fixed. I had to miss my laptop for two weeks. Thankfully with my backup I was able to continue working on it. But man it was close. So make your backups people!!
MMM: Can you give any advice in general that might encourage a novice moviemaker?
Elise: You never know where inspiration can come from. It’s all about digging up inside yourself and remember all the things you know. My inspiration comes mostly from my youth, but it’s always important to look for new stuff as well. So I pick them up from something as simple as daily life or the stuff I watch. But going to a festival or museum once in a while can get you fresh ideas. I actually should do that more as well. That would be my advice to myself and others: Go to festivals and get inspired!
To learn more about Elise’s work please visit http://www.elisethe.com