Animation Nights New York | 2019
Aagje Van Damme: "I wanted the film to remain the idea of dancing snails and not a copy of human dancers even though I relied on real dancers to work. "
DEAR SON | BELGIUM 7’ | Student Film
Francis has been working together with his mother, Bertha, for his entire life. They have a family business as mole catchers. While working, Francis loses his mother very suddenly. Now he has to take care of the family business all by himself.
Hi Aagje, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Hi Niger, thank you for interviewing me. I’m great, I’m mainly looking forward to Cannes as it is getting really close now!
Dear Son is part of the Animation Nights New York 2019-Cannes Program what does it mean to be bringing your film to Cannes?
I was just baffled when I read the mail that my film was going to be screened in Cannes, it came out of nowhere. I’ve sent in my film to many festivals, but nothing that I remembered had anything to do with Cannes. I was wrong, haha. But being able to show my film there, being selected to show my film there, is for me some kind of appreciation of all the work I put into that film.
Are there any nerves ahead of the festival or are you just taking it all in your stride?
I am a bit nervous, yes. But that is mainly because I’m going to Cannes all by myself, without knowing anybody there. I’m sure I’ll get to know many others, which is also one of the reasons why I want to go alone.
What do you hope to take away from your time at Cannes?
I’m hoping to get to know a lot of new people, maybe even make some new friends. That would be nice! Or some job connections would also be great. But the main reason I’m going to Cannes is just to get the whole experience, as this is for me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Can you tell me a little bit about Dear Son, how did this film come about?
Dear Son was the film I made as my graduation film when I was in my master year of animation last year. The film tackles a heavy theme like death, but it is brought in a light and sometimes funny way.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
The base idea of the story was from a co-student at the time. She was graduating as a writer and had an idea that could be developed for a short animation film. We started brainstorming, as I liked the base story, and we created this film out of it!
What was the most challenging part of bringing Dear Son to life?
All of it? No, what was very challenging, was being able to motivate myself to continue working throughout the year I worked on Dear Son. Most of the time I was working at home, all by myself. So it can seem like a never-ending road if you’re still somewhere in the middle of all the work. That’s why I make a lot of lists in a big Excel sheet and mark everything that I do, so I can see the progress.
What have been the important lessons you've taken from making Dear Son?
That sometimes you can’t do it all by yourself. It was a gamble, to work with somebody else’s story, as you’re not always sure if you both have the same visual idea. But I know that I’m not always great with creating stories, so I’m glad I took the opportunity to work together with somebody who could.
"My goal is not necessarily to make it feel but to feed my work."
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Not exactly. But I did always have a passion for drawing and creating stuff. The real ‘animation vibe’ came about six years ago. I wanted to study abroad for a couple of months, and the only course that seemed interesting was something with animation film. Went there, and that’s when I started realising that animation was a combination of all the things I liked. So I went with it, started a whole new course, and here I am!
Is there any advice you've been given that's stuck with you?
If people give you feedback, don’t be afraid to use it.
That’s what one of my teachers often said because as a student, you’re sometimes afraid to use the good feedback a teacher gives. But if it’s good, why not use it?
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Don’t give up if you can’t see the end of all your work. List it, and make sure you’re able to cross off something every day. Even if it’s something small. And aside from that, I would say, try to visit as many festivals while you can. It’s great to meet new people in the film world.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Dear Son?
I hope people will leave the room with a smile on their faces.