Interview with Nicolas Le Neve and Laura Muller
HN: Could you please tell me a little bit about both of you as creators, such as you career before this project?
Nicolas Le Neve: Being both scriptwriter and storyboard artist for an animated series is usually the perfect combo to me. These steps of the early design for an episode can be as exciting as demanding, yet I assume they require a great deal of creativity. This particular need of creativity is my motivation in designing the new series.
Laura Muller: I began as a 2D animator, then I specialized in directing, and storyboards. I noticed that what suits me best is contributing in every step, by tinkering. This explains this unconventional project, and its out-of-the-box mechanism.
HN: Could you please let us know the role each of you had for this project?
Nicolas Le Neve: I wrote the basic concept of the series. Concerning designs, I was good with my pop-up backgrounds, but not with the characters. Therefore I asked my long-time friend Laura whose artworks I love, and whose style fits perfectly with our characters!
Laura Muller: The funny thing is, Nicolas didn’t know that I am fond of pop-ups books too, I even have a whole collection of it back home. I immediately fell in love with this mischievous Little Wolf. It began with a drawing, and then, all the characters, villains included, appeared naturally on the paper…
Nicolas Le Neve: I ran the script and storyboard for the pilot, and I was in charge of its direction.
Laura Muller: I created the designs and animation for the pilot. Today we are working together as co-directors on the series.
HN: Where did the initial idea of the story come from? How did you come up with the idea of a wolf, who is traditionally a bad character in a lot of fairy tales, has a good and friendly personality and wants to be a hero?
Nicolas Le Neve: When my second daughter was born, I wanted to create a series. To tell my children that the world is not divided between good and bad guys, it is all a matter of the point of view. Nobody is forced to follow one’s path, being different is actually a chance and, in life, there is an infinity of possibilities.
I read stories to my children, and I found the vision of the world in it pretty tough. A wolf, who refuses his destiny as a villain, appears to me as a good metaphor to talk about.
HN: The visual experience of this animation series is very unique. I felt like I was looking down at a small world different from our own. I would like to hear about the development of the visuals of the universe we can see in the teaser and some scenes you showed during the presentation at Cartoon Forum 2018. What kind of new challenges did you confront and what sort of difficulties did you face throughout the development, if you have any?
Nicolas Le Neve: Happy to know you enjoyed it! It was important to visually start from reality – the child’s bedroom, and the land on a small, colorful and hand-manufactured world – a cardboard picture book. The series aims to get people to open books, read stories, and escape from reality. The pop-up book effect has a fun and technical dimension that kids enjoy a lot.
Laura Muller: Thanks to the pop-up effect, our little world comes alive and moves as the book opens. The challenge here was to make a pop-up background open in a realistic way. It was so important to me. Stop-motion was an interesting option, but it turned out to be too restrictive, so we moved to CGI.
Nicolas Le Neve: I worked on the series Mr. Carton, in which a cardboard universe was designed in realistic CGI, with the use of the software Unity. The director Michael Bolufer helped us by designing all the CGI parts of our pilot.
Laura Muller: Since the script, we had to think about how the story could fit into only three theatre sets, for every single book page. The staging differs a lot from what we were used to working with.
HN: What kind of experience or message do you want to give to kids through the animation series?
Nicolas Le Neve: I would like to explain to kids that being a hero doesn’t necessarily mean being a winner, nor a boss, neither a star. A hero is also someone who is happy and makes people happy. A true hero makes the world a little better every day.
Laura Muller: As small as our book can be, it contains each of Lupin’s worlds. When I was a child, I was able to create a world in my room, just by making up a costume or improvising great epics. I remembered that while I was working on Tiny Bad Wolf: I hope, thanks to our series, children will imagine their own adventures!