Renowned Argentine animator and filmmaker Carlos Lascano will be in Mumbai next week, holding a master class on animation and ways of storytelling. His best-known work is The Legend of The Scarecrow, which got him the Goya Award nomination and a pre-selection at the 2005 Oscars. Excerpts from an email interview:
By the time you were 14, you had already drawn a 200-page comic. Did you always doodle as a child?
Drawing is my most natural way of expression. I cannot remember my first doodles but, as a child, I was fascinated by monsters, and I made hundreds of sketches. Then I started feeling the need to tell a story with those characters.
Did your family support you in your career choice?
Absolutely. My father is an excellent painter and that was a great influence on me. He always inspired my brother and me to express ourselves artistically. He bought us our first video camera, with which we made our first stop-motion experiments. My mother writes beautifully. I took from her the sensitive point of view on human connections that is present in my work. The love that I feel for magic and marionettes comes from my grandmother. She had a small puppet theatre,where she would put up plays and tell stories to us. I was heavily influenced by American and Japanese cartoons as well.
Animation requires not just drawing, but also dexterity with technology.
If well used, technology opens up a wide range of possibilities for creative people. However, in the last few years, I have been trying to stay away from technology during the creative process: a good pencil, a sheet of paper and a coffee makes me more creative than a computer keyboard or a Wacom tablet.
Animation, for many years, was thought of as something for children alone. That seems to be changing.
I have always been annoyed by that. Animation is only a technique, there are stories that can be told way better in animation than in live action. For my latest short film (All Roses for Lola), I chose to use animation because the story needed to play a lot with the point of view of a child’s memories. The story is quite dark and not childish at all. But new artistic concepts and storytelling approaches have greatly enriched the genre.
Human emotions and relationships are recurring themes in your work.
Every single story I wrote has some connection with experiences and feelings I went through. While writing, I transform, adapt and imagine new situations to express those feelings in a dramatic way.
There is a distinctive use of human eyes in your films.
When I was making A Short Love Story (2008), I was working with real puppets animated in stop motion and I made them so small that I found it impossible to create the expressive eyes I needed. So, I came up with the idea of adding real eyes in post-production. I almost came to regret it, given the amount of work it implied. However, after placing the eyes for the first time on the characters, they suddenly came to life, and I was impressed. It was definitely a technique worth experimenting with. I decided to improve it in my next short film, A Shadow of Blue (2011). Since then, I have used it many times. I believe that eyes are a window to the soul of the characters. With this, I am able to work with actors, something that I love. It is funny that what started out as a way to get over a limitation became my signature style.
There is a marked absence of dialogues in your work.
I ideate only with visuals. My work is mostly distributed on the internet. Non-dialogue shorts connect faster and better with people since it avoids the use of subtitles or dubbing.
Carlos Lascano’s Lila will premiere on Star Movies Select HD as a part of Short Stories Festival this month.