"Waka Huia" was entirely drawn and animated on the computer with a graphic tablet by a very small team led by Mathieu Jadin. We have tried to suggest things as much as possible by only showing the necessary information to the viewer for him to let his imagination work and recompose the images by relying on his own experience. Added to the two story layers, this makes "Waka Huia" quite a demanding film.
All camera movements were drawn and animated by hand in TV Paint, except for a few shots in the train, where wiggles were added in After Effects to make the pictures shake. Unless what some might think on first thought, no rotoscopy was used in the short except for one shot. That level of animation would not have been possible without Mathieu's amazing ability to see in volume.
The story of Waka Huia was inspired by the visit of Charlie WHIU in the little B&B I run with Philippe CARREAU in Brussels. Philippe and I worked on the script, with Maori historian Monty SOUTAR as an advisor. We met Monty in New Zealand during a short trip which also served as a repérage and allowed us to couchsurf at Graham TIPENE's place and attend a ceremony in honour of his grandfather at Orakei RSA. The short was then story-boarded by Peter VANLUFFELEN thanks to the development aid of the Flemish Film Fund (VAF).
Later in development, we met Dany KOHL who introduced us to the HANSEN family, who had several members involved in World War One and whom I had the opportunity to meet in Zonnebeke.
Mathieu JADIN, who arrived on the project as an intern and is now working on Ari FOLMAN's new feature film, animated most of the short. He was helped by Jacinthe FOLON during the last few months of the production, in the final rush to finish the short. If you carefully watch the scene at the Kuala Lumpur Airport, you might recognize Mathieu, Jacinthe and me in the crowd;)
Ewin RIJCKAERT edited the short, mostly cutting on ins and outs to give it more rhythm. Gilles TRICOIRE composited the film, guiding the eye to the important elements in the compositions and adding paper textures to emphasize the time switches in the story.
Sound represents about 80% of the effect of an animated short. The purposefully minimalistic style of Waka Huia makes sound even more important. Several sounds were already present in the project since the very first animatic, and the sound track was improved little by little. At some point, there were (many) dialogues in the short, but in the end, we managed to get rid of them and convey the whole story through visuals.
Guido SMEYERS kindly gave us some advice on the music but finally, we only included a shortened version of the maori song "E Pari Ra" written by Paraire TOMOANA and performed in London by NGATI RANANA LONDON MAORI CLUB.
Geert VAN GOETHEM hired the talented Xavier DROUAULT, who worked on the "Triplettes de Belleville", as a foley artist. During the recording at STUDIO L'EQUIPE, he told me he had learnt the trick from Marie-Jean WYCKMANS, who worked on my previous short, "In the beginning"!
Senjan JANSEN and Ben AERTS rounded up the project by building on the soundtrack of the last animatic to give the short its full scope.
The production of "Waka Huia" has been so tense and exhausting that I am not sure I'll make another short that soon. For the moment, I am concentrating on writing two "lighter" projects : "Het Bezoek", a comic strip by Sandro COCCO, and "Full-time Dead", a novel adapted from a script I first wrote for another short produced by Ambiances.
"Full-time dead" was developed with Konstantin BRONZIT as a tutor during a Masterclass at HAFF. It featured a young ghost trying to commit suicide in order to escape eternal life. The short film then developed into a cross-media project that was selected for the 2014 edition of the "Cross Video Days", but at some point we pulled on the plug due to lack of funding. I am now developing the very rich material of that story into a novel with the support of Marie-Adrienne CARRARA, from www.aproposdecriture.com
"Het bezoek" is a comic strip for which Sandro and I had a first contact with publisher Casterman in 2016. Sandro asked me to work with him on the story to make it more "mainstream". We only work on the strip when we're together on location (the story takes place in Jemelle, where Sandro lives with his little family, that is at the heart of the story, but in disguise). I've therefore been spending about two days a month in Jemelle since May to prepare the "découpage" of that album. We've been through about a third of the first draft to date.
Sandro studied painting in Antwerp and comic strips in Ghent before moving to Rochefort with his wife Kanako. His first comic strip, "L'Autre Côté", was published in 2013 by "Le Moule-à-gaufres", but he was never paid for it. We met in 2016 during a workshop organised at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. We were queuing in front of the Casterman stand and by the time we reached the publisher, he had convinced me to work with him on his new project, "Het Bezoek", which we pitched together to Reynold Leclercq.