A: I was born in Skopje, in a country with the beautiful name Macedonia, but some people sometimes call it with the ugly name of FYROM. Inmy rebellious youth I wanted to change the world, played metal music and decided to leave the Balkans after high-school. So I left to study cinema in Paris, France – because I didn’t have enough financial means to pay me UCLA or NYFA, or FAMU or Lodz. In France I discovered european and asian cinema, and also my view on the world changed drastically. The university had the best equipped school library in France, and I spent most of my first two years of studying right there, discovering the art of many different artists in many disciplines. I consider myself now citizen of the world and an accomplished human being. Time taught me that “democracy” is everywhere the same sh*t, so I’m happy now to be back to my birthplace and to work the job of my dreams. My hobbies: reading books and comic books, and when I have the time, watching films. I also like to drink alcohol a lot, but not sure ifthat can be qualified as hobby. My dreams: Some of them have already been realised, such as to be directing a long feature animation, and generally to work in an animation studio with so many talented artists. Another dream that has become reality is that I had the honour to work with one of my all-time favorite bands.
If I can gain enough financial freedom and be able to hop from project on a project without waiting for financial supports from here and there, that would be great, too. And I have a dream about a famous Spanish actress but better not to mention it now
Q: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
A: Oh, I must say that almost all the authors I liked have influenced me in this or that way. Very often my films are directly inspired by another artwork, which is not necessarily a film, it could be a painting or a music piece. I’m a bit like a sponge, taking a lot of informations and then reworking them and spitting them out as a new project. My great-grandfather was a locally famous storyteller, and my grandma told me many fantastic stories when I was a child. I think her tales were among one of the biggest reasons for my fascination with the fantastic genre. If I was to pick the artists who have the most influenced my work, here’s my choice:
Litterature: Dostoievsky, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, (conan), Bukowski, Poe, Lovecraft… But also Hans Christian anderssen, the Grimm borthers and the mythology and folklore tales of the entire world.
Film: Sir Stanley Kubrick, Sir Sergio Leone, Spielberg and Lucas. Oh yeah, and also Tarantino and Rodriguez.
Music: Faith No More, Black Sabbath, Rammstein, Mozart, Beethoven, Rabih Abou Khalil, Beatles…
Cartoon: Chuck Jones. Some Disney authors. Miyazaki, for sure.
Art: Dali, John Buscema,
Comic books: Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Roy Thomas, Tizziano Sclavi, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis,
Q: How is your work routine? And how do you find inspiration to write?
A: My work routine changed a lot in the last year, because for the first time in my life I have fix working hours. So generally 9-17h I deal with studio work, and then very often I continue to work in the late hours, because that’s when I’m the most “in the mood”for writing. I need silence and calm to be able to create. Inspiration comes out of every information that comes to me during the day, but also from my dreams. Also, see the answer to question 1 ;).
Q: What is the biggest challenge to produce Jon Vardar vs The Galaxy?
A: This is yet to be found out Our first big challenge was to set up the studio itself, train the artists and create an ergonomic pipeline. Than we had the challenge to find financiers. After that, we’ll have to fight between production reality and artistic desires. I guess the biggest challenge will be to finish the film, within the desired quality and not explode the budget while doing it
Q: Jon Vardar vs The Galaxy is a hand-drawn animated feature. Why do you choose this technique?
A: Probably because we’re just crazy Well, the entire lead creative team and many of our team members were raised with the Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry (the old ones) and all the cartoons from the Golden age. We feel that with the advent of the 3D in the last 20 years, the overall animation quality in the industry kind of dropped. And you’ll notice that the best 3D animated features of today are successfully using some old 2D techniques such as stretching and squashing to give more life to their characters. Our goal is to make the best film possible,where the only limits would be our talent and our imagination. There’s of course the question of financial restreints that will surely come up at some point, but still, I think we have much more freedom and much less charges by using hand-drawn technique. Instead of being dependent on technology, we’re dependent on talent.
Q:Do you have another project after Jon Vardar?
A: A lot of them. We just pitched our animated TV series project “Dragongarten – Kindergarten for dragons”on Cartoon Forum at Toulouse. It is a very cute children series about little dragons always making fuss and their troll Nanny who barely (and rarely) manages to keep them calm. As an author I’m also working on couple of live action scripts, and have two or three older projects that I would like to make after John Vardar is finished. One of them is based on Scottish mythology, another one is a mix between fantasy and SF, and a third one is an existential horror. Hopefully, John Vardar will be successful enough to convince investors to support us in the next projects.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring animators?
A: Work as much as you can. Also, send us your porfolios: if you’re good and not very far away, you can come work with us And of course, the most important thing is: don’t be overconfident too soon! If you think you know all about animation just because you made a walk cycle, you’re wrong. Animation is an art, you need steady work for 5-10 years before you can say that you’re a professional. And that still doesn’t make you an artist. Too often we see badly drawn and badly animated short films in the festivals. Some even get awards, because “That’s the concept”. Personally I don’t fall for that excuse. Show me that you master the classical techniques before pretending to break any norms. Many people think Picasso doesn’t know how to draw, because they don’t know his early works. Same goes for animation. Learning to run before you learn how to walk, it’s a no-no.