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Melancholy – Ta Tristesse: Interview with Jacinthe Folon

A little conversation with the young Belgian director, winner of the Music Video International Competition at Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival


Melancholy – Ta Tristesse directed by the Belgian author Jacinthe Folon is the winner of the first edition of the International Music Video Competition at Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, an experimental contest addressed only to music videos made by students from universities and schools of cinema from all over the world. A music video “which its animation differentiates from the others,” according to the award motivation, “extremely refined, both in its storyline and drawings, which well match with the work’s elegance. Since, by definition, a music video has to effectively represent its music in the first place, the choice of an animation is perfect.”
We had a little conversation with Jacinthe Folon, the young director of this video realized for the Belgian songwriter Ivan Tirtiaux.

Hello Jacinthe, welcome to Good Short Films! First of all, can you tell us about yourself and your work as an animator and film director?
Hello Alessandro! I’ve only started studying animation in 2012, after a Master in French and Romance Languages and literatures in Louvain La Neuve (Belgium). After that rather classical education, I started animation studies in La Cambre, Brussels. This school is well-known to give its students a lot of freedom and to foster creativity, I really enjoyed this.

Most of today’s animation is characterized by the 3D technique, but your work is still traditional. Why have you chosen this technique? Have you ever experienced other kinds of animation techniques?
In La Cambre, I was free to choose and test various animation techniques. I’ve tested cut-out animation, digital cut-out and even a little stop motion. Since I love drawing, traditional animation suits me fine, even if it takes longer.

What are your favorite techniques / softwares / tools to use when animating?
I don’t have a favourite technique, I like to change and I usually adapt it to the project. I usually first work on paper with ink, pencil, watercolor, markers pens or charcoal. I love this part of the research. Once I have set a graphism, I test it in various softwares like Photoshop, TVPaint animation or After Effects, to see what would be the definitive look like and how it would move. When I’ve made up my mind, I animate on my computer, using a pen tablet.

Let’s talk about your short film with Ivan Tirtiaux, Melancholy. How did this collaboration originate? What drove your interest in this particular project?
Melancholy is based on “Ta Tristesse,” a song coming from the second album of the Belgian singer Ivan Tirtiaux. Ivan first contacted the students of La Cambre, asking if someone was interested in making a video clip. When I listened to his songs, I really liked the poetry and the atmosphere coming out of his work. It was also the opportunity to collaborate with another artist and to work on the association of music and image. Ivan let me choose the song, and I’ve picked “Ta Tristesse” almost without hesitation. The idea of the flooded house came right away. In the song, I really liked the bittersweet combination of sadness and relief.

Why did you decide to use this animation technique in the short?
I wanted something light and simple, that leaves space for the voice and the music. I followed the idea of my first sketches: clear lines drawn with pencil.

What it means to you an element like water?
Water is not my favorite element. I rather stay on the sand than go swimming in the sea! In the short, water is probably the main character, it personifies sadness and its ambivalence. The first drops are harmless, relieving. But soon, it gets threatening, as the girl gets slowly submerged.

What do blue and white (and their contrasts) mean for you?
In order to keep simplicity, I wanted to work with a limited number of colors. I chose the white and blue for it gave soft contrast but also because blue is a quite nostalgic color. In music, it refers to the famous “blues”.

Your animation is perfectly functional to Ivan’s song. How have you been working on doing so? Did you work together or this was just your idea?
Ivan gave me a lot of liberty. After having chosen the song, I just sent him the synopsis, a summary of the story and he said ok! After that, I worked alone on the project.

I haven’t seen too many pictures but notice that your female character looks like you. While creating her, do you identify yourself?
Even if the song speaks to me, I didn’t try to make a self-portrait. I guess we always put a little of ourselves in our drawing.

What’s interesting to you about character design with animation?
Creating character is very fun to do, you have to imagine his life, his tastes, his motivations… and find a way to express it (or not) through his physical appearance and the way he is moving. It’s giving life to your creature!

Who are the directors / animators you admire the most?
I really admire the work of Tomm Moore in The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Recently, I was very touched by the poetry of My Life as a Courgette of Claude Barras, and I loved the adaptation of Le Grand Méchant Renard of Benjamin Renner. I also love the work of the Aardman studio, The Monty Python and Wes Anderson.

Do you think that the technology of digital production could alter the way you think, feel and create in the future?
I think that technological development will certainly wider the range of possibilities, and – hopefully! – make production work easier and quicker. I don’t know if it’ll change all our way of thinking, it’ll certainly have a big influence, and we’ll probably have to adapt our work to new medias and constraints.

You’re currently studying animation in ENSAV. Do you think that an artist nowadays can focus on a single art to find inspiration, or is it better to work on animated films, live-action works, gaming industry, commissioned works, tv and web series?
Personally, I love the idea of working in different fields, it is very enriching and inspiring. But more than that, considering the difficulty of working in the artistic field today, I think an author need to stay adaptable and open to new challenges and possibilities.

What is art school like for you? Do you enjoy it? Is it what you expect?
The school of La Cambre follows a five-years program with a bachelor and a master. In the animation section, the students have a lot of freedom. From the first years, they’re free to choose their projects and the way to develop them. There’s a lot of technical means and all the students use to help each other, from the first to the fifth year. There’s also theorical classes, and workshop with professional of animation. After five years in University, this system was quite a shock for me, but I soon get used to it and I enjoyed it, even if this freedom can also be stressful and exhausting. Now I’ve just graduated, I am happy to enter the professional world and discover new things!

What are your upcoming projects and what are you looking for the future? What is your biggest dream, when it comes to your work?
First of all, I’d like to continue having fun while working! I’d like to work for projects that speak to me, that bring a message. It would be great to keep making shorts films, video clips and illustrations. For now I’ve just graduated, I have a few ideas but I also stay open to new opportunities.

Alessandro Zoppo

Alessandro Zoppo

Editor-in-Chief @ Good Short Films

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