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17th ÉCU
The European Independent Film Festival 2022 

8th - 10th April 2022 
Interview

Alina Milkina 
Morning Grass 

Section: European Animated Film
alinamilkina.carbonmade.com / ecufilmfestival.com
Ukrainian Version

While thinking too much about what future brings, on a summer day a young boy meets a spirit in the fields. This spirit shows him that life is unconventionally beautiful.

Hey Alina, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

Hello guys, thank you for inviting for the interview. I’ve been asked that question a lot recently since I am a Ukrainian filmmaker. I believe any times could be called strange, right? Some of them are just stranger than others. I try to stay true to my passion of drawing and animating. It always saves me.

 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

 

For sure. Inspiration could be find in any times or circumstances I believe. Recently I joined so to say a creative army and have been doing a lot of social and political oriented illustrations, which I’ve never done before. It broadened a lot my research field for the next short film I want to work on.

 

Congratulations on having Morning Grass part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?

 

Thank you very much! I’m indeed very happy to be part of ÉCU festival this year. Every screening and every attended festival becomes special when you put so much into making the film. For one selection come ten or twenty rejections. And with every new screening you believe in yourself more. This appreciation, it encourages you to continue.

 

How much did has your experience within the Dutch Film Industry prepare you for going back to independent filmmaking?

Now, after working for almost two years in the Dutch film industry, where I had the chance to work with a huge crew, strict deadlines, and new artistic pipelines, I’ve learned a great deal on how the animation industry works. However I was faced with the fact that I had no voice in the creative aspect.  Truth be told, When being a part of a big team of creators you often work for the sake of work. So, I feel that I really want to get back in touch with all of these stories I have to tell.

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Can you tell me how Morning Grass came about, what was the inspiration behind your animation?

 

I was sketching, and then drew a boy and a creature in the forest. Back then I was scared of adulthood, I didn’t know yet that adulthood doesn’t actually exist. But that time gave me a lot of thoughts about future and my choices. That was the core of the story. Besides that I’m quite good in animating grass and it was kind of my specialty at academy.

 

Whilst working on an animation like Morning Grass how close where you able to keep to the screenplay once you started filming?

 

I think the more time you spend on pre-production, the easier the process will be. I think I didn’t have many changes or rethinking during the production and just followed the screenplay and animatic. I’m not a person of serendipity.

 

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Morning Grass to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

 

I started working on Morning Grass when Covid just came in 2020. Working from home was of course challenging at the beginning. Also that year Dutch summer was so hot that my sweat was crystallising on the surface of cintiq.

 

You are a graduate of Minerva Academy in Groningen, what was this experience like for you?

 

My specialisation in Minerva was printmaking techniques. That’s also when I started doing animation, analogue back then. Morning Grass was my graduation project when I was studying in AKV st Joost Academy in Den Bosch. Both places gave me a lot.

 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking and animation?

 

No. When I was five I told my mom I would never make cartoons because it’s difficult and I prefer to watch them instead.

"I doubt that someone will say no to that question hahah. Filmmakers want to be heard. Our stories want to be seen."

How much has your approach to your films changed since you started making films?

 

Right now I’m experimenting with analogue techniques and combining them with digital animation. I’m still in search for my own signature in style and storytelling.

 

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?

 

I doubt that someone will say no to that question hahah. Filmmakers want to be heard. Our stories want to be seen.

 

For anyone out there thinking about getting into animation, filmmaking or going to film school do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

 

Always have a sketchbook with you, wherever you go. You never know when an idea will come to your head. And drink less coffee, that’s not healthy.

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Morning Grass?

 

I hope people will recognise their own feelings throughout my film. And that people simply enjoy it.