LOVING VINCENT | The tortured artist is the subject of the world’s first fully painted murder mystery.
How do you make a hand-painted feature film? Very, very slowly. Wanting to create an animation about Vincent van Gogh that captured the essence and spirit of his artwork, directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman decided the only way to do it was to hand-paint all 65,000 frames in oil on canvas.
“It started out as a short film,” laughs Kobiela, “but that was seven years ago… Since then it’s expanded into something quite a bit bigger.”
After an initial test that involved filming live actors, digitally rendering them in a computer, and then painstakingly painting over each shot on a canvas board, Kobiela worked out that it would take her “around 80 years” to do it all herself. Picking up some extra funding from a Kickstarter campaign,
the filmmakers hired a team of 115 unemployed oil painters and retrained them as animators to help spread the workload.
“We had a lot of doubt about whether or not it was possible, for sure,” admits Welchman. “We knew that the idea of painting every frame wasn’t exactly a small undertaking. But the fact is, it just looked so much better. If we could have done it all in a computer, we would have. But you just don’t get the feeling of the brushstrokes. It wouldn’t have looked like a painting coming to life, it wouldn’t have felt real.”
Stepping into van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces, Loving Vincent turns the artist’s death into a detective story starring (painted footage of) Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan and Chris O’Dowd, piecing together his last days at Saint-Rémy.
“It was a very big and scary responsibility,” says Kobiela. “We’re not copying the paintings, we’re reimagining them. I didn’t realise how much he inspired my life until I started working on this. The whole experience has been long and sometimes hard, but it’s changed the way I think.”
ETA | 13 OCTOBER / LOVING VINCENT OPENS THIS AUTUMN.
VAN MAN The artist is brought to animated life in Loving Vincent.