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2013 // Childrens, Comedy, Satire, Educational Film, Short Film, Student Film, CGI


Dir: Simone Giampaolo, Yifan Hu, Henrik Linnes

What is the film about?

ESPERO? (HOPE?) is a humorous, entertaining but also educational animated comedy which sarcastically shows how Gaia, our planet Earth, met humankind years and years ago, and all the problems which followed. A criticism of our modern society and of the way we’ve been “evolving” over the centuries. Apart from having a quite original visual style, ESPERO? (HOPE?) is also the very first 3D animated film fully dubbed in Esperanto, a beautiful universal language created over a hundred years ago to foster peace and international understanding between people.

What influenced it?

Early inspirations for the story came from two illustrious independent animators who, throughout their successful career, have been using animation as a medium to deliver important messages to the audience: Frédéric Back and Bruno Bozzetto. Frédéric Back (born 1924) is a Canadian artist and film director of short animated films which focus on environmental issues. In 1982, he won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film for his film Crac! (1981) and, five years later, he won his second Academy Award for Animated Short Film for The Man Who Planted Trees (1987). Bruno Bozzetto (born 1938 in Milan, Italy) is an Italian cartoon animator and creator of many animated shorts, mainly of a political or satirical nature. His best-known work is probably the 1976 feature film Allegro Non Troppo, a collection of short pieces set to classical music in the manner of Disney's Fantasia. In 1990, Bozzetto's short Grasshoppers (Cavallette) was nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. As our short film ESPERO? (HOPE?) aims to present environmental issues created by the human race, we think we have a lot in common with Frédéric Back in terms of themes. The team agrees it is very important and effective to make use of animation to create films which can make people aware of some vital issues. Frédéric Back managed not only to raise awareness about some inconvenient environmental matters through his films, but he also inspired concrete action to save certain natural resources (for instance, the action which followed the release of his film The Mighty River (1993) to save St. Lawrence river in Canada). Over his career of animator, Back created nine animated short films, which tackle different environmental issues as allegorical tales. In particular, All Nothing (1978) presents the extermination of several animal species done by human hands, while The Man Who Planted Trees (1987) talks about the issue of deforestation. With Bruno Bozzetto's work, ESPERO? (HOPE?) shares the humour and irony, the art of criticizing negative aspects of our society through satire, and the desire to deliver important thoughts through animated comedies. As Bruno Bozzetto himself states, he loves making constant use of humour because he considers it "crucial in life and in society, and because it is a perfect medium to make the public accept even harsh criticism." I feel that, as a young storyteller and animator, I am located in the middle way between these two artists.

A little background information...

Since my childhood I have always had a very strong passion for storytelling. That is one of the main reasons which pushed me to propose to direct a narrative short film as my Final Major Project at Bournemouth University. One thing I really enjoy about storytelling is the mixing and overlapping of genres, and my own favourite genre is comedy accompanied by a strong moral. I see animation as one of the most powerful medium to reach a wide range of audience, which goes from kids to adults. What intrigues me the most are the possibilities to use this medium to spread important messages and teachings while keeping entertaining the audience. Also, animation allows you to talk about inconvenient and sensitive topics in a funny and relaxed way, which is much more difficult to achieve through life-action. When I create a story, I am not fully satisfied if it doesn't leave a message or a moral meaning to the audience. Therefore, this has become a common characteristic of my work. The themes I am more concerned about are environmental and social issues and criticism of our modern society. Following this, the general aim of this project was for our three people group to create a high-quality funny, entertaining and educational animated short that presents in a sarcastic way how humanity has been affecting planet Earth over the centuries. In terms of visual style, our aim was to give this 3D short a quite artistic and illustrative 2D look, and also try to include 2D animated elements into the story.

How was the film made?

We based the entire production on Maya 2012. Since Maya is so flexible and can be adapted to many different situations, we found it was the perfect tool for a student project. As a student working in a small team, you want to keep the pipeline as neat as possible, therefore using such a multifunctional software as Maya was really beneficial and time-saving. In the modelling stage, Lead Modeller Henrik Linnes made use of Mudbox to speed the sculpting process up, while Art Director Yifan Hu made use of Photoshop to create those very painterly textures. Compositing was done in Nuke, which we found incredibly useful and which saved our lives in more than one occasion. To end with, editing was done in Adobe Premiere.
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