Los­ing His Mind

French an­i­ma­tor Bruno Col­let answers a few ques­tions about his Os­car-nom­i­nated short Mem­o­rable.

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French an­i­ma­tor Bruno Col­let answers a few ques­tions about his Os­car-nom­i­nated short Mem­o­rable.

French an­i­ma­tor Bruno Col­let’s stop-mo­tion short Mem­o­rable has been re­ceiv­ing ac­co­lades and awards since it de­buted at An­necy last June. The pow­er­ful short, which is one of the five ti­tles com­pet­ing for the Best An­i­mated Short Os­car this month, cen­ters on an aging painter and his wife, who are try­ing to cope with ad­vanced de­men­tia. Col­let, who stud­ied fine arts at the Beaux-Arts in Rennes and has worked as a set de­signer and di­rec­tor on a num­ber of TV se­ries, films and shorts, in­clud­ing

Ca­lypso Is Like So (a trib­ute to Robert Mitchum), Rest in Peace, The Day of Glory and The Lit­tle Dragon, an homage to Bruce Lee. We caught up with Col­let on the day the Os­car nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced!

Con­grat­u­la­tions! How does it feel to be an Os­car nom­i­nee?

For a “Frenchie” like me who di­rects short films, to be nom­i­nated for an Os­car is like break­ing into Fort Knox with a hair­pin! It’s truly in­cred­i­ble!

What was the in­spi­ra­tion for Mem­o­rable?

It was the dis­cov­ery of the paint­ings of Wil­liam Uter­mohlen: He was an artist who suf­fered from Alzheimer’s, but con­tin­ued to por­tray him­self de­spite bat­tling with the dis­ease. His paint­ings re­veal the slow evo­lu­tion of his neu­ro­log­i­cal de­cline. I found it very mov­ing, and it made me think that it was pos­si­ble to tell this story through the pa­tient’s feel­ings and point of view.

How long did it take to make this project?

It took about nine months: Three months for the con­struc­tion of the en­vi­ron­ments and the main char­ac­ters, three months of shoot­ing (in four stages) and three months of post-pro­duc­tion (vis­ual ef­fects, mu­sic, etc.)

What would you say was the most chal­leng­ing part of the process?

The tough­est part was giv­ing the pup­pets a real sense of hu­man­ity. The style of an­i­ma­tion and the voice cast con­trib­uted greatly, but for me, it’s al­ways the eyes that give the char­ac­ters their depth.

What do you hope au­di­ences will get from your work?

I hope it brings them to tears! No, se­ri­ously, I hope they will see it for what it re­ally is, which is a love story.

Who are your an­i­ma­tion he­roes?

I dis­cov­ered the magic of stop-mo­tion through the film of Wil­lis O’Brien and Ray Har­ry­hausen, so it is not sur­pris­ing that my he­roes are KingKong (1933) and [Me­dusa].

When was the first time you re­al­ized you wanted to work in an­i­ma­tion?

It was in 1995 that I dis­cov­ered the world of an­i­ma­tion. As a sculp­tor, I was work­ing in bronze when I was called to make plas­ticine pro­to­types. The de­sire to make films then re­ally se­duced me. With its many pos­si­bil­i­ties, cinema of­fered me the con­crete pos­si­bil­ity of build­ing what I had in mind and of re­ally mak­ing my dreams come true.

What are your plans for the fu­ture?

I hope to di­rect an an­i­mated fea­ture tar­get­ing teens and adult au­di­ences, while con­tin­u­ing to make shorts that al­low me to have great cre­ative free­dom.

Who do you hope to meet at the big Os­car nominees’ lun­cheon this month?

Kirk Dou­glas, be­fore it’s too late!

For more info, visit en.unifrance.org/movie/48172/mem­o­rable.

Se­nior Mo­ments: Bruno Col­let’s poignant short Mem­o­rable cen­ters on a painter and his wife who be­gin be­gin ex­pe­ri­enc­ing signs of de­men­tia.

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