Sundance Film Festival 2022
Gabrielle Selnet, Adam Sillard & Chloé Farr
Au revoir Jérôme / Goodbye Jerome
INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION SHORT FILMS
Having just arrived in paradise, Jerome sets out to find his wife Maryline. In the course of his search, he sinks into a surreal and colourful world in which no one seems to be able to help him.
Hello Gabrielle, Adam & Chloé how have you been holding up during these very strange times. Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Adam: While these strange times may give some people fresh new ideas and inspiration, I feel like I would be more inspired if I were to experience life and people more than the sanitary restrictions require. However, with the development of teleworking, we have become more open to collaborating with other people from around the globe and working on projects together without knowing each other in real life, which allows more opportunities.
Chloe: For my part, there are many questions that have emerged during this period, which have either been resolved or not, but which are in any case sources of inspiration.
Everyone thought a lot during this period, and we all came out a little more mature, at least I did! (laughs).
Gabrielle: It’s definitely a challenging time to make a graduation film. With lockdowns and curfews, it was hard to find moments off work and off the film. But I realized how important it was to take time to have fun, socialize, for the mental health of course but even to process ideas. I also learned a great deal sharing all the steps of the process from brainstorming ideas to editing!
You are all graduates from Gobelins - L'École de l'Image, how much did your time and experience at Gobelins prepare you for your filmmaking journey?
The first year, we were trained on the basics of animation, and the practice went on to more complex animation techniques which allowed us to be comfortable animating in general. In the second year, we worked on several team projects. The most important one would be the ANNECY opening sequence that we did in teams of 5-6. This project lasted for 4 months and taught us a lot about teamwork on a film. After the third year of solo exercises and artistic introspections, we felt like we were ready for the fourth year film.
Congratulations on having your International Premiere of Goodbye Jerome! (Au revoir Jérôme!) at Sundance 2022, how does it feel to be part of such an amazing line-up of films?
It was so unexpected, it’s a great honour! Our goal was really to make a fun film that people would engage in and find funny, but considering the difficulties we’ve been through it’s an even greater pleasure.
"In a long process like this, it was very important to listen, ask, show each other everything constantly. It helped us stay focused in the direction that we had set for the film."
Can you tell me a little bit about how Goodbye Jerome! (Au revoir Jérôme!) came about, what inspired your animation?
The idea of paradise was what started it all. We wanted a place where we could have fun, without any graphical or narrative rule, we wanted to be completely free. Then we threw ideas around, mostly jokes about what could happen. The idea of how a relationship can evolve afterlife was the one that we kept.
Graphically, we all had an interest for old cartoons and 70s aesthetics. We wanted to make a film that would not be linked to our era and the graphic simplicity in shapes and colours that we found in these references had always attracted us. Artists like Alan Aldridge, Nicole Claveloux or Saul Steinberg (and many more) strongly influenced the look of the film and the way we approach drawing in general.
What were some of the biggest challenges you face bringing this film to life?
We didn’t know each other very well. We talked a lot at the beginning, before making the film, to get to know each other better and to understand the desires and intentions of each of us for the film. The pandemic had us locked down during most of the preproduction, and the production was done part-time at school, part-time at home, which made everything harder.
Also, a big challenge that we had was finding the design of "Jérôme." At first, we all wanted in on it but then we realized that to have a simple yet bold design, there could be no compromise. We decided to take a sketch fresh out of Chloe's sketchbook and make it the final design.
Gabrielle & Adam you have collaborated before in Baptiste Boutin's "Expedit", will you continue to work together on future projects?
Yes, and we had also worked on other school exercises together and it has been very fun. We would be very happy to work together again in the future!
As co-writers & co-directors, how important was this collaborative nature of filmmaking for you all working on this film?
The writing part was the best. All we did all day was throw ideas around. Some jokes kept making it up to the script, which made everything fun and light for us. We were surprised at how quickly we found the material that we needed. Then, we pointed out what worked in all of our graphic styles to match the direction of the film and merged it into one image. In a long process like this, it was very important to listen, ask, show each other everything constantly. It helped us stay focused in the direction that we had set for the film. We would never have made the film this way if we had been alone, this is why the experience of collaboration is so unique and exciting.
Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?
Adam: I think filmmakers should push the boundaries of their stories if they want to, it all comes back to the intention of the story. It can be a good exercise to always think about how to push them, without necessarily doing it. Simple stories can be very powerful if they are true and honest.
Chloe: I think it's always good to surpass yourself, in animation, there is still a lot to do, technically, but mostly in the themes covered and the stories that remain to be developed.
Gabrielle: I guess it’s all about the balance between innovating and keeping it simple and universal!
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Adam: Yes. It all came from my passion for drawing, which led me into making short films when I learned how to use a computer.
Gabrielle: I guess I’ve always wanted to work in filmmaking but live-action films seemed so unattainable…And as I loved drawing and were doing it all the time I figured I might as well get into cinema by animating!
Chloe: I’ve always loved cartoons, they brought me a lot of joy and emotions during my childhood, so I naturally wanted to create them myself, having always wanted to tell stories.
Has your approach to your films changed much since your debut?
Adam: I think that my interest in the technical process is what brought me into filmmaking. As time goes I’m trying to think more about storytelling and writing.
Chloe: I enjoyed doing the backgrounds with traditional paint so much that I want to continue this process on other projects or other films.
Gabrielle: When I came to Gobelins I still had no idea how to approach film, story and artistic direction. I’m still working on understanding the things I like for myself, but working and studying with such great classmates has made me evolve enormously!
Is there any advice you would offer someone wanting to get into filmmaking?
Adam: Be curious about other people, and try to make films that feel true to you.
Gabrielle: Try to find the fun in everything you do, don’t compare to others and above all be the most honest you can be with your work!
And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Goodbye Jerome! (Au revoir Jérôme!)?
We hope that they’ll have fun watching it and be surprised by it!