Ever since MarBelle shared Luiz Stockler’s eccentric first year RCA animation Home with me back in March last year, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of his 2nd year film Montenegro. Tackling topics of anxiety, hair loss and odd dreams, DN spoke to the animator to find out more about the film that asks, ‘Zinedine Zidane, why did you headbutt that man?’.

Where did the concept for Montenegro come from and how did it develop into the final narrative?

At the start of my 2nd year at the RCA, I didn’t have an idea of what kind of film and story I wanted to tell, all I knew was that I wanted to have fun with what I was doing. The 1st year, as many will tell you, is quite a stressful time filled with self-inflicted pressure, doubt and insecurity. I think this is partly due to the RCA’s reputation, many feel and wonder if they deserve to be there and have this idea that everything we create has to be amazing. Which of course, isn’t true. After making my first year film Home, I found a method that I could apply to my workflow and storytelling by relying on chance, play and mistakes to help me build a story over a period of time, instead of sitting in front of a blank page and forcing myself to think and write. So with this in mind, I produced a series of drawings during the summer and first term of my second year at the RCA. They were mostly small comics or anecdotes I had scribbled down. I noticed many recurring themes in them – longing, loneliness, loss, etc..I had also began to develop an idea around exercise and wanted to experiment with repetition. Characters which seemed to feature regularly in my books ended up in the film, e.g. the wolves…Eventually I realised that these sketches could form part of a narrative which seemed quite relevant to me – I have suffered with obsessive thoughts and anxiety since I was a kid, so I realised that this is what I wanted to depict in a film. I wanted to tell a complex story with really simple and minimal visuals, and make something different to my previous work, but would also combine elements of what formed my style of storytelling i.e. comedy and drama. I liked the idea of isolation, and how depression can make you feel alone and small, it can make you so self-involved that you neglect the wonderful things around you. I used space and scale to illustrate this and played around a lot with framing, it was a lot of fun!

What are you working on next?

I finished up in January a little short for my production company, Agile Films in London, it’s called Blue Dinosaur I had a lot of fun with this project, mixing my other passion, music, with storytelling. I’m now developing this further, working from Bucharest, Romania, on a performance piece involving songs I’ve written and projected animation I’ve made, hopefully I’ll perform it soon when I’m back in the UK. I’m also working on Curious Cat which is a series of illustrations about a cat that asks super inappropriate questions which should be out soon. There’s a live action script also, and a few more things in the pipeline, but they’ll have to wait!

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