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But Milk Is Important / Anna Mantzaris and Eirik Grønmo Bjørnsen

Exquisite attention to detail in this slightly psychedelic film with tons of warm fuzzy paranoid-antisocial charm. Animation, lighting, camera work, puppets, art, sets, timing, framing…all impeccably imperfect and joyously spot-on with the deep poignancy and patina of modern tension. Thank you, Anna and Eirik, all the attention and awards that the film is receiving are well-earned. Read on to hear directly from these young psychological sages of filmic mystery.

From co-director Anna Mantzaris:

    We both wanted to explore Stop Motion for our graduation project. Both had thought of stories about a Man with a Creature that does not belong in this world, and to create an interesting relationship between them. 
The film should have a dark, mystical yet tragicomic mood and have a good warm feeling at the same time. We were inspired by the same style of animation, and like the handmade look. After some discussion we decided to work together and started brainstorming for what would become But Milk Is Important.

 Working with Stop Motion is fun because it is closer to working with actual film. You have the set, lights and the actors on set. The animator has to help them do their act of the film. We appreciate the authenticity and presence that Stop Motion gives by using real models, something that you can feel and touch. Knowing that most of what you see is real, and that the animator has physically moved the characters and objects to give them life is great.
    In Stop Motion you give life to a lifeless object. For us this is magic. 

In bigger productions which do really impressive work, we think it is a bit sad that the studios often try to perfect the film so much that in the end it looks like it could be a 3D/ CG production.

 It was then really important to us to keep the handmade feel, but still keep the quality as high as we could. It is easy to just start doing things as “realistically” as possible, especially in stop motion. But we tried to not fall into that. The texture of different materials that can be captured in stop motion is very valuable to us. And we didn’t want to hide the fact that it is handmade. 
Some of our inspiration came from Chris Sickels, Red Nose Studio. He creates beautiful puppet illustrations/installations while keeping the rough and handmade style.

    The story in Milk has very little dialogue and relies mostly upon body language, atmosphere and feelings, so we created a small library with face replacements for the main character. The man barely talks so having replacable expressions was key to show his mood and feelings as the creature affects his daily life. From the beginning we were planning to remove the seamlines from the replacements in post production, but we liked the look it gave to the puppet. We also liked having how it was all made exposed. 

Doing reference video is key for catching details of someone’s expression when they are acting and doing movements. We referenced almost every shot and noticed details in the movement and the acting. Applying these details on the animation too, made it more personal. When looking at the reference we could also call on certain timings and apply that in the animation. Considering we were both animating the man, doing reference helped out a lot with defining how his personality is and how to express that.

For equipment we used Dragonframe and the school’s Canon DSLR cameras with a variety of both Nikon and Canon lenses. 
Since the atmosphere had a highly important role throughout the film we tried to use the camera as an active part of the storytelling. When the man wakes up on the floor and sees the creature upside down, it is a metaphor for his world turning upside down. When he is about to go out in the corridor, the very low angle is to strengthen the feel of frightening territory and a possible danger lurking. 
To emphasize this we needed good lighting. Much time went into this. We set all the lights ourselves, experimenting, testing and using whatever we could find. We also soldered small LED lights and flashlight bulbs for additional lightsource objects.

Thank you, Anna and Eirik, excellent work! We will look forward to more dietary tips for our celluloid intake -Dragonframe

blog written by Vera Long

Animated short by Anna Mantzaris and Eirik Grønmo Bjørnsen
Music by Phil Brookes
Sound by André Parklind

Audience Award For Best Short Film – Ottawa International Animation Festival 2013
Walt Disney Award For Best Graduation Film – Ottawa International Animation Festival 2013
Audience Award In The International Program: Inside The Mind – London International Animation Festival 2014
Best Film From Emerging Artist – Giraf – Festival Of Independent Animation 2014
Best Animated Short Film (+18 Category) – Giffoni International Film Festival 2013
Best Student Film – Se-ma-for Film Festival 2013
Audience Award – Sweaty Eyeballs 2013
People’s Choise Award – Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2013
Audience Award – Frame By Frame 2013
Best Student Film – Athens Animfest – 2013
Post Graduate Student Jury: Best Student Film – Athens Animfest 2013
Gold Winner – Moving Image Student Category – Visuelt 2013
Best Student Film – Animated Dreams 2013
Future Glance – Kort På Kinokino 2013
Best Short Film – Cardiff Independent Film Festival 2014
Audience Award – In Short Film Festival – 2014
Special Mention – Anibar – 2014
Student Special Award – Anifest 2013
Best Nordic Baltic Student Film – Fredrikstad Animation Festival 2012
Special Mention – Sommets Du Cinéma D’animation 2013
Special Mention By Jury Member Chris Robinson – Animateka 2013

Selected in 100+ festivals and screenings including:
Annecy International Animation Festival
Hiroshima International Animation Festival
Zagreb International Animation Festival

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