This is part of an interview series, in collaboration with CEE Animation. We would like to introduce award-winning animated short films directed by upcoming young creators from the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region and the story behind the creation of each film. We give big thanks to Aneta Ozorek and Marta Jallageas for their great support in this series.
In a hospital room, the Daughter recalls a childhood moment when as a little girl she tried to share her experience with an injured bird with her Father. A moment of misunderstanding and a lost embrace has stretched into many years all the way to this hospital room, until the moment when a window pane breaks under the impact of a little bird.
Director: Daria Kashcheeva
Author: Daria Kashcheeva
Art Director: Daria Kashcheeva
Animator: Daria Kashcheeva
Producer: Zuzana Roháčová (FAMU, Czech Republic)
Co-producer: Martin Vandas (MAUR film, Czech Republic)
Editor: Alexander Kashcheev
Music: Petr Vrba
We are delighted to deliver our interview with Daria Kashcheeva, who studied animation at FAMU in Prague, Czech Republic, on her graduation work titled Daughter. The film won many prestigious awards, including the Gold Medal in International Animation film category at the 46th Student Academy Award, Cristal for the Best Student Film at Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2019, City Post Award for Best Animation Short Film at Melbourne International Film Festival 2019, and Best film of Fantoche at Fantoche International Animation Film Festival 2019, just to name a few.
Daughter is a no-dialogue stop-motion short with exceptionally high standards for a student film. It tells a story of a father and daughter who grew emotionally apart due to a small event, or so it seems. The look of the film is very uniquely designed: Its polished unique visuals of the universe, sophisticated camera work and well-structured story guides you into the ordeal of misconstruing each other among a family, which could happen to us in everyday life no matter how much love there is between one another.
Interview with Daria Kashcheeva
Hideki Nagaishi (HN): This film is telling a story of relationship between a daughter and her father, which includes its difficulties, growing apart, misunderstandings and affection, through a sensitive depiction of their emotional movement. Where did the initial idea of the story come from and what made you decide to develop the film?
Daria Kashcheeva: I had been carrying the idea for the animated drama Daughter in my head for three years, before I actually started making it. I wrote it for the entrance exams for FAMU in Prague, and I wrote it in just a few days. Before I came up with the topic of the parent-child relationship, I had been pondering other subjects. I was trying to write and invent witty or unrealistic tales, but it was all futile and driving me crazy.
So, I then decided to write about myself, and I started to drag up memories and feelings deep down in the past that bothered me. I was searching for answers to why I am the way I am. While processing these childhood memories, I found moments that really shook me and as I understood later, influenced my behaviour. And after all of this it was much easier to write up the subject of the movie, even though it was making me quite emotional and sometimes I cried.
I discovered that parents sometimes can’t express their love for their child, even though they do feel it inside. Or express it in such a way the child cannot understand. Sometimes there is estrangement. And after at the end of the 2nd year at FAMU, when I was thinking about the topic for my bachelor’s film, I decided to return to it.
HN: The characters’ emotional expressions, especially the facial expressions in this film, were impressive. What were the things you took care of in designing and creating the models and animating them?
Daria Kashcheeva: As the story is very emotional, I understood that the facial expression is so important in my film. I knew I wanted to use papier-mâché as a material for my puppets and I couldn’t find a way to animate eyes. I didn’t want to use balls inside the puppets heads as it is usual in puppet animation, because it seemed so artificial on the papier-mâché head.
As I painted on the puppets’ faces, I decided to try animating eyes by repainting directly on the puppets’ faces. I animated just the movement of the pupil. I was adding a touch of black on one side towards where the pupil was moving, and painting over with white on the other side. With each wink I covered the whole eye in black, and after drying I repainted the whole open eye including the pupil. In between takes I had to remove the accumulated layers of paint from the previous shots.
In animation, especially with big details, I was using video reference. I filmed myself, then frame by frame transferred the motion of my eyes onto the puppet face. During testing of the facial expression animation, I confirmed that I should have bigger puppets with bigger heads, on which I could paint the movement of the eyes more comfortably. That’s why I decided that for the movie I need puppets that are about 40cm for the father, 37cm for the adult daughter and 26cm for the little girl.
HN: I felt that all the background art, music and sounds of each scene made it possible for the audience to see and feel the emotion of the daughter and father intuitively. How did you design the background art, music and sounds for the film to achieve the complex synchronization and harmony between the story of the film and the two main characters?
Daria Kashcheeva: Actually, that is true. Everything I do, I make it intuitive, just like how I feel. I like painting, I was very inspired by the paintings of Egon Schiele, with his very expressive style, so I decided to paint all the sets and puppets’ faces. It was a very creative and expressive process.
With the music and sound, I wanted to create a documentary-like atmosphere, rough and deliberately “dirty”. I was trying to emphasize cuts with the sound, and especially jump-cuts. That is why I didn’t want to have a lot of music in the film. We used music-like noises and decided to have only one simple theme, which is representing the father-daughter love.