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Héloïse Ferlay - 'To The Dusty Sea' Director Q&A

Next up is the multi-award winning To The Dusty Sea, a truly remarkable stop-frame short. We can't wait to hear what director, Héloïse Ferlay has to say on the project.

VFF: For those of us who love the aesthetic of felt, but haven’t worked with it, what are some of the challenges and rewards of working with that medium?

HF: Felt is a very malleable material and it allows a lot of little mistakes to be hidden, as it isn’t a plane and sleek surface. It can be glued as well as felted, it marries itself very well with cloth, it reminds us of many loved and cuddled objects. Light also gets caught in it very nicely… It’s more rewarding than challenging to choose felt as a main material for puppets I’d say ;)

VFF: With ‘Malo’, ‘Zoe’ and ‘Mom’, your film offers a child’s, teenager’s, and adult’s perspective on family trauma. How important for your film is this clash of outlooks on life?

HF: It is super important. As well as showing and confronting different outlooks from different ages on the same situation, it is also a clash of personalities and ways of coping. For me it’s primordial that we learn empathy by being exposed with different point of views, to understand that others will have a totally different way than us to apprehend a situation. The film is all about this!

VFF: During a particular car crash sequence, there is a break in the animation style, did you always have a clear idea in your head of how this sequence would look?

HF: I knew from the beginning that I needed a style break for the accident to have more freedom in the shapes and animation than solid stopmotion. To express dismay, turnaround, whirlwind. I also had some images in my head of what it should look like, and ideas about the materials (wool, paint, flowers) but mostly I let myself improvise on the music for this sequence, which we had recorded previously. After this, I needed one or two weeks to accept the animation as a good sequence and stop having doubts about this completely new and unprepared baby in the film!

VFF: There’s some really creative use of sound, giving viewers a real insight into the mother’s psyche. What are the benefits for you of expressing such details through the sound design rather than for example, the dialogue?

HF: Thank you! Making a film is all about searching for a good balance of how you give the informations and emotions to the viewers. I guess everything could be said by the dialogue. Everything could be said without dialogues. Everything could be written down and we’d give the script and treatment to the spectators. But we’re making movies so, some emotion will go through the animation, some will come by with the cinematography, and some will go with the sound etc. I love dialogue and acting, but for this film I wanted that they stay succinct as our three characters really have trouble to talk together and connect. Putting the mum in a sound bubble is a much more emotional way to drive her away from the kitchen than making her talk. And expressing emotions is what I’m searching for!

Héloïse Ferlay - Director

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