Preparations for the world’s first feature painted animation are currently underway in Gdańsk. The film, telling the story of Vincent van Gogh’s life and mysterious death through the artist’s own works, will be directed by the painter Dorota Kobiela, with a screenplay being co-written by Jacek Dehnel.
Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, image: public domain
The 80-minute film, titled Loving Vincent, will consist of 56 000 frames, each created by gradually applying layers of paint. So far, the painted animation technique has only been appearing in short films – this production will be the first case of using in a full length film.
As opposed to regular stop-frame animation, the single frames won’t be entirely new and separate images. Technically, the process will look as follows: upon creating the first frame, a painter will apply modifications, setting the characters into motion. At the end of the production process, we expect to have over 1000 pictures created – Sean Bobbitt, the CEO of the films production company, BreakThru Films, says.
Bobbitt discloses that the film will be based on over 100 paintings by van Gogh, each of which will be transformed according to the above method.
The film is intended to tell the story of the artist through the eyes of those he painted. The characters from his paintings will be discussing van Gogh’s passion for art. It is said that, after van Gogh’s death, a letter was found in the pocket of his shirt, and included the words: ‘the truth is, we cannot speak other than by our paintings’.
Bobbitt describes the upcoming animation as a ‘crime document’:
We think of it as a sort of investigation of the causes of van Gogh’s death. Did he really, as is often said, commit suicide, or was he a victim of a murder? We do not, however, try to decide which of these versions is the real one. By depicting the last days of his life, we rather intend to allow the viewers to become better acquainted with his figure.
Loving Vincent will be directed by the painter and film director Dorota Kobiela, who is also the original author of the idea for the film.
So far, I have mainly had experience with the technique painting, but I have always wanted to try and transfer this medium to the language of film. – Kobiela explains her initial impulse.
Kobiela has been preparing the script in collaboration with the poet and writer Jacek Dehnel.
I think the script has been rewritten about eight times already. It really is a big challenge. The difficulty lies in telling a story that somewhat belongs to the common knowledge, in a way that is fresh and intriguing enough to sustain the audience’s curiosity for over one hour. It is now in its final stage – all we are waiting for now is feedback from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – it is one of our priorities to make sure the film is realistic, which is also the reason for introducing some real life events and facts to the story. - Kobiela stresses.
Painter in the studio during the production of Loving Vincent, press materials
The animation will feature mostly British cast, and vast part of it will be filmed in London. The actors’ faces will be painted in the style of the post-impressionist classic, with special attention being paid to the colour palette, texture, or the characteristic deformations. Van Gogh’s face, however, will not be a 1:1 reproduction of his self-portraits, but will also bear some traits of the actor playing him.
The plates will be painted by over 30 carefully selected painters, mostly art graduates. Bobbitt sees working with such a large group of talented artists as being both exciting and difficult:
Formal consistency will be very important. After all, each of the painters has his or her own sensitivity and style. Having to suppress their artistic egos and to comply with the stylistic standard may turn out to be quite a challenge for them.
The producers of the film hope to have it finished in time for it to be included in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival programme.
BreakThru Films was founded in 2001 in London by the producer Hugh Welchman. It mostly recognized for their 2008 Oscar-winning production Peter and the Wolf, co-created with the Łódź animation studio Se-ma-for. The puppet film Peter and the Wolf was an adaptation of the musical fable by Sergei Prokofiev.
Source: PAP, Editor: AM, 2.01.2014