My Friend the Sun
(Status: In development)
Diego and his daughter Xochitl live in an abandoned building in Mexico City, both have inherited the ability to use magic while painting thanks to their grandmother Tata, an indigenous woman that migrated to the city many years ago. While Xochitl paints to discover her roots and know where she comes from, Diego, unfortunately, had to abandon his heritage in order to take his daughter ahead, facing the modern world´s hardships.
One day, Xochitl secretly paints a mural which summons Quetzal, a baby-feathered-serpent version of the almighty god Quetzalcoatl, who takes her through the mural into the very world of the Aztec Gods in order to help him beat the evil god Tezca. Diego will have to acknowledge his heritage to help his daughter in her adventure and hopefully save the world.
My Friend the Sun
Director: Alejandra Perez
Scriptwriter: Miguel Uriegas
Producer: Miguel Uriegas (Fotosíntesis Media, Mexico)
Storyboard Artist and Head of Animation: Ramón Baturoni
Format: Feature 80’
Target Audience: Children / Family
Technique: 2D digital
My Friend the Sun is a new film project by Fotosíntesis Media in Mexico, which will take the audience to a poverty-stricken girl’s adventure to the world of Mexican mythology. Fotosíntesis Media has two films circulating in many international animation film festivals, The Angel in the Clock (2017), a fantasy adventure story of a girl with leukaemia, and A Costume for Nicolas (2020), a boy with Down syndrome with a deceased mother who dives into a brave adventure. The Angel in the Clock was selected to “Feature Films In Official Selection – Out-of-Competition” at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018.
The film project was selected in Animation Production Days (APD) 2021 and we had the opportunity to hear from Miguel Uriegas, the producer and scriptwriter of the film.
Interview with Miguel Uriegas
Hideki Nagaishi (HN): Could you let us know the key points of your animated feature film project that you would like to appeal to the prospective audience?
Miguel Uriegas: Our film focuses on the universal tension of parenthood. The struggle between what parents think their children need to do and the children´s adventure to find their place in the world. All of that is taken through a Mexican lens in a fantasy adventure through Aztec mythology, which is one that is not mentioned often outside our country.
HN: Where did the initial idea of the story come from?
Miguel Uriegas: Even though there has been many films and series that talk about Maya mythology and the Day of the Dead, the number of films on Aztec mythology are very few. Therefore, we wanted to take the opportunity to talk about these Aztec myths in a story that could be appealing to people around the world.
HN: What are you taking care of the most when writing the story of the film?
Miguel Uriegas: To be accurate with the myths we are portraying, and presenting them in a way that is child-friendly. Also, we want to make this film more into a comedy, so there should be a good balance between the dialogue work and the actions of the characters that carry the comedy.
HN: According to the synopsis I read at APD, Diego tells lies on Mexican myths until he goes on to an adventure where he will have to find his daughter Xochitl to save her in real Mexican myths. I’m curious about your aim to show his attitude against Mexican mythology.
Miguel Uriegas: We’ve reworked that part on our last draft. Instead of having Diego lie about the myths and legends, he denies his heritage as a painter from an indigenous community, submerging himself into the modern world and struggling to get enough money to take his daughter ahead. In this way, he doesn’t support his daughter´s interest in painting, claiming that her time is running out and she better pay attention to school in order to become a businesswoman that will be able to sustain herself. Of course, Xhochitl hates that idea and wants to pursue her passion for painting Mexican mythology. This is how we portray the tension between the father and daughter.
HN: Could you let us know the most important characteristic and goal of the visual design of characters and the universe for the story?
Miguel Uriegas: We aim to achieve a visual design that really depicts the craft of the artisans from the markets of the Aztec era, with a contemporary twist. We believe that 2D animation gives our production a chance to explore new ways of visual communication without worrying about budget constraints.
HN: Fotosíntesis Media has been developing feature-length animation titles constantly. Could you please let us know how you have been managing financial and production resources to enable that?
Miguel Uriegas: Government funding has been crucial in achieving a constant production. In Mexico, we have a government tax grant that has been a game changer for the Mexican film industry since 2007. The government funding must not be more than 80% of the total film´s budget, so for the rest of the budget we source it through private equity and our own resources.