A tribe of cartoons are being taken by force from their natural habitat, only to fulfil the voracious intentions of humans.
Hi Dimitris, thanks for talking to TNC, how is your 2020 going?
Every day contains a bit of progress.
Congratulations on having All You Can Eat selected to British Shorts, what does it mean to you to be part of such a great showcase for British Films?
It is a great honour, the films participating are fantastic.
Can you tell me a little bit about All You Can Eat, how did this film come about?
Visual elements were combined from my previous films Absorbed (2017) and First Thirst (2018), along with more compressed storytelling. It felt like in All You Can Eat, the message needed to be as clear as possible, in order for the audience to observe other qualities and details that surround the story.
I must say that my classmates at the Royal College of Art as well as the tutors, helped me shape All You Can Eat, little by little with their feedback. Always when I had an animatic or a shot, I would ask a friend’s opinion on it, or whoever was available at the time being, and most of the times the comments were really helpful. That’s the beauty of animation for me, that even the director can be surprised by the outcome of the film.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
All I knew is that I wanted to do a film with colourful jolly characters. But in order for their existence to have meaning, the world needed a counterpoint: this is where humans get involved. The atmosphere is inspired subconsciously from the life in big cities and how lost people feel in them. In order to fill this gap, they do what they know best: eat.
I come from Athens, the city of concrete as some might say, in which many artists find a unique beauty in its brutal architecture and grey landscapes. Through the years I managed to meet many talented musicians, as the greek underground scene has a great tradition of ‘Do It Yourself’ ethos. Considering the voices, I believe that Gennadios Arvanitis (Degear0001) did a great work by giving his voice to the characters. Moreover, my dear friends in Rita Moss trusted my vision and we decided to collaborate on this film. I must say the soundtrack supplements the irrationality of the film perfectly, even the lyrics of the song fit with the edit!
So, in a way I got heavily inspired by the places I grew up, the music I listened to and the comics I’ve been reading. But, as the film started taking a life of its own towards the production, all the beautiful people that worked on it, inspired me to continue.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
The need to tell stories…As a toddler, I was watching films like Taro the Dragon Boy, and as I grew up, I got my hands on comic books of all sorts. Lots of comics, magazines, graphic novels, literally anything. I never got into sports, I’d rather make up funny stories in my head and laugh with the outcomes.
It always felt that producing a live action film involved a lot of costs, so directing animation seemed like a reasonable solution. Even though I must say, that the actual decision to make an animated short film came much later in life, during my BA studies in Audio Visual Arts.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut?
It feels like my first animated film had a very specific path that went through, whereas now I am trying to think more of what I can implement in new films, that I hadn’t tried before.
Aesthetically, I believe that not a lot of things have changed since then, but I managed to put a better structure in my narrations. I always aim for shorter films now, as I believe that Absorbed is rather long for it’s story! I learned a lot from my mistakes, but I tried to apply this knowledge in my next films. There are a lot of things as well, such as editing and pace, which I learned through practice. I remember I struggled a bit with the editing during Absorbed!
As Absorbed could be characterised of having a more ‘dark’ or ‘noir’ aesthetic approach, this is why in First Thirst, I wanted to try something completely different. I wanted to experiment with shapes and environments more, and inevitably implement stuff from it in All You Can Eat.
So in a way First Thirst led to All You Can Eat.
"As a toddler, I was watching films like Taro the Dragon Boy, and as I grew up, I got my hands on comic books of all sorts."
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
The greatest advice was given by animation itself: to be patient.
Do you have any advice you would offer someone thinking about getting into filmmaking?
Don’t get discouraged by the circumstances, just go for what you got at the moment. And do make mistakes, that’s the only way to learn new techniques. Oh, and don’t be afraid to try out new software that might make your life easier (3D can be your friend if you want to).
What are you currently working on?
Between All You Can Eat and the next film, I believe there is some space for some zine/comics to happen.
And finally, what message do you want your audiences to take away from All You Can Eat?
All in all, it is a filmed about friendship/love. Two cartoon characters get separated and try to reunite. In two words: willpower & freedom.