Brexit, Trump, Immigration, the world is in turmoil and we all have something to worry about! Adding to that list and giving us something new to fret over is Director Andrea Vinciguerra – who wants us all to start considering just how dangerous dance can be. Joining us to discuss how he hopes to raise awareness of how this deadly phenomenon is spreading through his infectious stop-motion short No, I Don’t Want to Dance!, the London-based director talks puppets, funding and future projects with Directors Notes.
I’ve watched No, I Don’t Want to Dance! repeatedly over the last few days and one of the things I really love about it is how simple but relatable the premise feels, can you tell us a little bit about where the idea for the film came from?
It’s hard to remember exactly how this idea came to me. It was stored in a dark corner of my laptop for several years. I constantly collect notes, inputs, and inspirations and if a concept sticks with me for a long time, that’s the sign that I have to try bringing it to life. I think it may come from observing people while listening to music with my headphones. It’s quite interesting how the right music can act almost like a filter lens on our reality. That’s probably why I also find music videos so interesting.
What was your main motivation behind making the film? What were you hoping an audience would love in the film?
We all know the only motivation was to raise social awareness about the catastrophic consequences of dancing. That’s a terrible curse in our society.
It’s hard to be controversial when you feature really cute and fluffy characters.
Also, well, I just wanted to do something cool that allowed me to do more work as director, that’s important too. I guess at first the intent was to shake the audience with a controversial and edgy piece of work but it’s hard to be controversial when you feature really cute and fluffy characters. So I reckon I hoped people would appreciate the contrast between these aspects.
Once you had the concept in place, how did you go about deciding on the characters and scenarios that would feature in the film and do you have any favourites?
Oh, I loved the process of designing the characters. It took a month between researching and drawing, I basically threw in the mix everything I found funny or interesting somehow.
I’ve got some recurrent scenarios that I keep on coming back to with my work. Usually, I tend to play with pop culture elements, especially from the American ’60s,’70s and ‘80s. But in this one, I also tried to imagine a more contemporary and personal setting. For instance, my father owns a leisure center in Palermo (Italy) so I sketched the swimming pool exactly from a perspective really familiar to me.
My favorite scenario is definitely the tacky-calamari-techno-Diner. Also because it features the chubby punk, one of my favorite characters.
Looking through your Vimeo channel, it looks like throughout your work you employ many different styles and techniques, what was it about stop-motion that appealed to you for this film?
Even if the majority of the body of my works are in live-action I tend to do extremely stylized pieces and focus strongly on the art direction. That’s pretty much my thing. I experimented in the past with basic 2d animation and I also did a live action puppet music video which was really fun to make and had a quite good response.
Everything has to be made from scratch and this allows you to curate every single detail that goes in shot.
I always wanted to explore stop motion because I felt it embraces my strongest skills. I particularly enjoy the freedom and control it gives you in terms of design, everything has to be made from scratch and this allows you to curate every single detail that goes in shot, which is fantastic! Ultimately I love the idea of being able to produce work choosing whatever technique I feel is the best to convey the story.
The puppets feel like the real stars of No, I Don’t Want to Dance! can you tell us a little bit about the process of creating them?
I bounced this question to our great chef Adeena Grubs, who cooked all the puppets you can see in this film. Here’s her recipe:
“So we started with a wooden egg for the base of the puppet, cut it in half and that formed the torso and butt. We then drilled holes and used aluminum wire to form the spine, neck, arms and legs of the puppets. With the skeleton finished, a lot of foam was needed to pad them out and make them fat! The foam acts as the ‘muscles and fat’ of the puppets, once this was done we laid a stretchy jersey material over the foam, this is the skin! Their eyes were tiny acrylic balls with holes drilled in them, this allowed the animator to stick a needle in the hole for eye movement. For the final finishing touches, hair was added and styled and the eyebrows were cut from fabric and stuck on the face with tacky wax.” Bon appetite!
Stop-motion is a notoriously time-consuming process, how long did your film take to make and looking back at your production process, is there anything you’d do differently?
The film took seven intense weeks of modeling and animating plus a good month of pre-production before getting all together in the studio. I actually wasn’t expecting the process to be that tough and I had to get used along the way to some quite frustrating aspects that stop motion has. I’m sure I lost quite a bit of hair on the way.
My only regret is maybe not having enough time to include another little scenario.
Looking back, I would definitely allocate at least another week for the animation but I’m really happy about what we achieved in such a short time. That was only possible because of the amazing team I got really lucky to have on board. My only regret is maybe not having enough time to include another little scenario that was supposed to be part of this film. It was about a chubby old lady dancing in a colorful Italian butchery…
How did you fund No, I Don’t Want to Dance!?
Except for a bit of family support and a couple of people that chipped into our Indiegogo campaign, the film was entirely funded by myself and my girlfriend. I’m working in advertising and that allows me to put money on the side which I then reinvest in my directing career. I spent too long waiting for the good opportunities to arrive so until the moment things change I’ll keep on investing in weird ideas like this one.
What are you working on next and where should people go to follow your work?
I’m currently trying to sell a pilot episode for an animated series which I believe has great potential. I also have a couple of short scripts ready which I hope to bring to life in the near future. Other than Instagram, I would suggest paying a visit to my website – where you can find, other than a selection of my films, also some bizarre photographic projects and naughty vintage Gifs.