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Interview with ELOISE, LITTLE DREAMER director Myriam Obin

August 8, 2016

Affiche_Eloise petite reveuse

 

Charming, confident and outgoing – that was my first impression of Myriam Obin when I met her last fall. That was before I learned I was talking to a talented illustrator/animator from Montreal, Canada. She had just won the Award of Excellence from the After Hours Film Society (based out in the suburbs of Chicago) that night for her animated short “Eloise, Little Dreamer”, which was her graduate film last year at Concordia University. After touring internationally with the film, where it went on to win several other rewards, it is now being released on Vimeo as of August 5th. I’ve kept in touch with Obin and recently had a chance to discuss her process and approach to animation and, of course, her award-winning film.

“Eloise, Little Dreamer” is a brief look at life from the perspective of a curious young girl. Eloise follows her sister into the busy city streets of what she perceives to be a festival. We learn it is actually a riot the police are actively involved in. In colorful palette strokes and flowing forms, we’re shown how she perceives the exciting, frightening and violent world around her, in this surreal dream-like sequence of events. Created and animated by Obin with sound design by Emily Laliberté and soundtrack composed by Vincent l. Pratte.

You can check out “Eloise, Little Dreamer” yourself at the highlighted link below our full conversation here….

 

 

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David J. Fowlie: Hullo, Myriam. How are you?
Miriam Obin: Fine. And you?
DJF: Not bad. Thanks for taking some time to talk about “Eloise, Little Dreamer”.
MO: No, thanks for promoting my film in this way.
DJF: My pleasure. So, we met almost a year ago. At that time, you had just received an award from the After Hours Film Society, while basically touring this film on the festival circuit, correct?
MO: Yes. I have to tell you, my English isn’t the best….
DJF: No worries. We’re just talking here – besides, your English is better than my French!
MO: Haha – thanks!
DJF: So, with “Eloise” set to be released on Vimeo, are you now finished taking it through the festival circuit?
MO: Well, let’s say I wanted to try something else. Doing the festival circuit is so different from the internet. It’s more personal because you get to met people face to face. You also need to decide the festival you want to present your film and by the same way you decide the public it will target. Releasing your film on the internet is a little bit more like a gamble, you don’t know who will see it and if people will like it. It can be a larger audience or a smaller one, it depends.
DJF: Was actually meeting your audience and having conversations with them and doing interviews a better way to start out than beginning with an internet release? More rewarding maybe?
MO: Well, it can be counter-productive to publish your film on the internet before sending it to film festival and like I said I wanted that experience. When you work on an animated film it takes a long time to produce it by yourself. In the end, you just want people to see it and many people will try right away with the internet but some films just don’t work well on that platform. In short, I wanted to experience both.
DJF: Understood. What was your experience like on the road with the film? It won some awards obviously, but were there any surprises during your experiences as you toured with the film?
MO: Well, being accepted is always very exciting, so I tried to be there when I could. At some point, I was travelling a lot, but it’s always for work in a way. Of course, you need to select which one you will go, but many times it was a very pleasant surprise. It could be exhausting when I was on the road for a long time, but some film festivals made it all worth it.

 

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DJF: You mentioned the animated process briefly – I know it can be a solitary journey, so can you talk about the time process of making “Eloise” and whether or not there were others involved in the creation of the short or was it solely you?
MO: Yes, my graduation film was pretty much me and myself in front of thousands of paper, working on it bit by bit. There was also a lot of discussion in my class about what we wanted to do and what we wanted to say through our film. And more discussion with my music composer and sound designer about what I wanted to hear in my film. Sound is a very important key in animation and they did a very good job for “Eloïse, little dreamer”!
DJF: How did you meet your music and sound designers?
MO: It was a collaborative project with another university. We would present our project and they would decide who they want to work with.
DJF: So, you chose them and they chose you?
MO: Yes, pretty much
DJF: I saw your animatics of “Eloise” and watching it after the final cut made me wonder how long it took you to make it. Do you start at the drawing board, literally drawing out ideas, a character and so on?
MO: I made the animatic as a guideline for myself and for my music composer. I started “Eloïse” with a small sketch from many different ideas first, from both personal experiences and actual subjects. In the end, I wanted to represent a peaceful protest being represented with no specific reason by the police because of what was happening in Quebec at the time. I had to redraw the concept many times in order to have my story like I wanted. The animatic was a guideline for me and my music composer to keep the same timing as we both worked separated. For the production it took much more time. I draw on paper, test the animation, clean the animation, scan the clean animation, colour them on the computer and work in after effect for the camera movement. Since I had no experience beforehand I also had to learn everything along the way, it was a long process of many month. Oh and my computer also broke down halfway through! A good computer is important when you start a project like that!

 

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DJF: I can only imagine! It’s funny when people see three minutes of animation and they a) want more and b) can’t believe it took months and months of work to get done.
MO: Haha, yes! It’s normal, you need to try it to understand it. When I was a kid and I wanted to be a filmmaker in that medium, I had no idea how much work it required.
DJF: Well, it obviously didn’t deter you and I commend you on your perseverance. Many are tempted to give up – what kept you going?
MO: In art, you usually get better with time and I want to see me at my best. If I gave up I’ll never know what my best could be.
DJF: That’s a great perspective to have!
MO: Yes, that and the fact that I want to make more films. I have many ideas and I want to see them come to life at some point.
DJF: You mentioned how you wanted to represent a peaceful protest in “Eloise” and that is certainly seen from the main character – what was going in Quebec at the time that compelled you to include that in the film?
MO: There was a protest for free education and it was badly handled by both the government and the police force. However, I didn’t wanted to force my opinion on people. This is why my film is from a neutral point of view. The little girl, Eloise, has no idea what is happening and so too does the spectator. What is happening behind the scene is open to interpretation.

 

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DJF: Which to me, is how art should be – open to interpretation!
MO: Oh for sure, art should be an open conversation.
DJF: Well, I found “Eloise” to be personal, immersive and transporting!
MO: Aww, thank you! Imagine what I could do if I got a budget!
DJF: Keep at it and that’ll come.
MO: Thanks.
DJF: It sounds like you’re always working on something – what are you currently working on right now?
MO: A new animated film about media alienation – fun and serious at the same time.
DJF: Sounds fascinating! How far are you and what do you anticipate the length to be?
MO: Oh, I finished the animatic and I still need to rework a bit here and there. Overall, the length will be 8 minutes, which can translate to an eternity in the animation world! However, I am very motivated for this one.
DJF: I’m looking forward to seeing it. Are there any particular animators that you go back to for inspiration?
MO: Many, but I can’t name them all.
DJF: Fair enough. Again, thanks for your time and please keep me posted on any new work.
MO: Well, thanks for your time and I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

ELOISE, THE LITTLE DREAMER

ELOISEPROMOTION

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