HOW IT ALL STARTED …
The film is loosely based on a true story from childhood, made into a kind of fairytale. The story has changed over many years. I believe it´s one of these stories that has to grow and ripen for its meaning to reveal itself, even to me. My name is Elin Grimstad. I am the director, as well as designer, set-builder and scriptwriter of the film. In 2004 I designed my own multiglasplane table out of some industrial shelves, and started making cut-out films for puppet theatre productions as well as book illustrations. I called myself Grimfilm. Eternal Hunting Grounds is my first animated short for the cinema screen.
We applied for development funding for the project from the Norwegian Film Institute in 2011.
Luckily we succeeded. Ingvil Giske from Medieoperatørene is the main producer of the film. It was great that she took interest in the film. I knew I had to go somewhere else to make it, as my animation table was not an advanced enough. A larger table, with glassplanes to do the manual panning, tilting and zooms was needed. I also needed help to fulfil the ambitions I had for the project.
I really wanted to be in a stop-motion environment while working on the development. Nukufilm in Talllin, is Northern Europe’s largest stop-motion/doll film studio with 30 employees. They have facilities for stop-motion animation, including doll-makers, animators, and lighting and camera people who can help realise the project. I decided to rent a desk at Nukufilm, so I could get a feel for what it was like, and to get to know the staff and the facilities. At this stage, I did not know if the film would get made or not. I was prepared to pack my bags and return to Oslo if it fell through.
I also had recently played gig in Estonia with Je suis animal and really liked the country. It was quite exotic hybrid between Scandinavia and Easter Europe. Also as their culture is still very connected to nature which I though it fitted the film.
In the development stage I mainly worked on art-direction and character drawings, as well as the storyboard and script. I tried a few different ways to go with the aesthetics of the film.
An early version of the visual direction
I started all the preparation drawings first made an animatic, a moving storyboard. This was the basis of the whole production. It has been crucial tool to have before going into Nukufilm to make the film. Here you can see some pictures from the process.
The animatic had a test soundtrack with music and dialogue that was replaced by the actors and the composers for the film.
The colour pallet and some design elements fell into place.
I was also thinking about materials. Obviously I wanted to go with cut-out, as that was my previous experience. But I was also keen to try out watercolours, as it´s a style of painting with great transparency, and feeling of layers of colour shining through.
Another thing was the possibilities to work with elements that has relief and texture, and to play with real shadows and light. Something that is the main reason for making a film on a huge glass table rather than in a 2D program on the computer. There were some early tests done, making paper casts from moulds. The test puppets were also made in this way, as well as using painted textiles on their bodies.
Hunter test puppet
Paperfaces made from moulds
The story’s visual world is inspired by the nature on Giske, the island I grew up on in northwestern Norway. The film is also set on an island, but a completely different, made up island off course!
The color palette reflects the light and atmosphere of nature there. Open landscapes with windswept trees, cliffs and seabirds. The “endless” – mountain, ocean, horizon – is always in the background. The visuals will connect this macro-cosmic backdrop to the the micro-cosmic activity – the children playing in nature with small animals, insects, worms, and wildflowers. These contrasts are also a part of the film’s theme. The aim is to capture the mystical atmosphere that lies in the landscape – not in a nationalistic or naturalistic way – but rather in a naive, tactile and personal way.
The film’s appearance is directly inspired by the nature, flora and fauna of this island and region. I spent summer days collecting wildflowers and straws and finding their names. It made me realise how familiar these flowers and straws are to me, yet how little I actually took notice of them. Check out the beautiful paper-flowers under the puppets and sets menu that are made by the puppet-makers at Nukufilm inspired by these photos!
It´s been wonderful watching the world of the film reveal itself bit by bit.
It was quite an experience just living in Estonia, and I´ve had lots of magical times and made so many friends and colleges. I learned so much and got great help from the animators, puppet makers and the photographer. But it´s also been a long, hard process. Coming alone to such a big studio where everyone knows each other and working in a country where you don´t know the language and and the culture is quite different, has been disorientating and challenging.
The multiplane glass table facilities in Nukufilm studio had dusted down a bit, but during the production there were two big tables up and running.
Hope you find the blog interesting and feel free to contact me!