"IT WASN'T UNTIL LATER WHILE AT HIGH SCHOOL WHEN I REALISED MY PASSION AND LOVE FOR ANIMATION."

Gabriella Martinez de Luca 
What Is Reality?
Nominations: Best Debut Film 
Screening Session: Feb 28 | Nominated Films
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
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Mia is a high school student struggling at her school so, she gets too focused on imagining a perfect world for her to the point that she loses touch with reality and gets trapped inside an alternative darker reality, where every time she tries to escape she comes back.

Hi Gabriella hank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?


I am doing ok! After finishing my BA in Animation at De Montfort University I decided to continue my studies by joining the Digital Effects Masters at Bournemouth University. For this reason, it has kept my mind busy as I have been concentrating on learning new programs and finishing the projects that my university has set for their students.

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

It is an honour. I am very proud of the short film I was able to make but before submitting my film to film festivals I didn’t expect to get selected as I know there are many talented filmmakers in the field. Thus, I am grateful knowing that my film has been selected amongst many other films. 

Can you tell me a little bit about What Is Reality, how did this film come about?

This film is about student struggles and loosing touch with reality for wanting something that is not real. As students we have the pressure of needing to do great to set a great future for ourselves. And so, through my character on my film, I represent how she loses touch with reality by entering a loop that she cannot escape in which she’s put on different scenarios where it is not what she expects or wants.

What where the biggest challenges you faced brining your film to life?

Covid did a big part on making my film very challenging to make. Because we were on lockdown at the time the film was being made, I was not able to get help from my tutors or classmates. I was able to get feedback and advice from my tutors through email, but whenever I ran into a problem, I had to solve it on my own. So, it was very difficult to make the whole film on my own and only being able to get advice from my tutors through email.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

Yes, absolutely! Although I wasn’t planning on something like Covid to happen, looking back I wish I would have managed my time better so I could have had more time to polish my renders and final look of my animation. Moreover, I wish I would have had more time to make my own character rig. However, it is all part of the learning process as a student and so I hope that in five years’ time I can look back and see how much I have improved.

I would take the title of the film itself: What is Reality?

"For me being an animator it means to be creative, to bring your imagination to life, and sometimes in order to do that, you have to break the rules and boundaries to get your story across."

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

Since I was a kid I have always loved films and fine art. It wasn’t until later while at high school when I realised my passion and love for animation. This happened when my art teacher showed me Fantasia and told me that what I was seeing was a combination of thousands of drawings put together as a sequence to create a sensation of movement. I was so amazed by it that I decided that I wanted to become an animator.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give?

To step back. Sometimes I get so focus into doing the film that stepping back and looking at the bigger picture makes me realise of mistakes that I didn’t realise before or gives me fresh ideas that could help make my film better.

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

For sure! For me being an animator it means to be creative, to bring your imagination to life, and sometimes in order to do that, you have to break the rules and boundaries to get your story across. 

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Outline all of your ideas, even if you think they are bad ideas. Sometimes your bad ideas can turn into great ones. Moreover, show your ideas to people, get feedback, even from people that aren’t filmmakers, and always listen to what they have to say.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from What Is Reality?


I hope that they like the film and leaves a good impression. But I also hope that they are able to see the hard work that was put behind the scenes, and that students can also make great films. Hopefully I can inspire other animation students showing that if I was able to do this film they can too.

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