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BFI Future Film Festival 2023

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Interdimensional Pizza Pushers

Interdimensional Pizza Pushers follows Honeybear and Fishlips as they race against the clock to deliver pizzas and keep their jobs. Each delivery brings our protagonists to a new dimension, which visually translates as a new animation style and world for them to explore.


Hi Lije, it’s great to talk with you, how has everything been going?


Lovely speaking with you as well. Everything’s great–I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the BFI Future Film Festival and have an excuse to travel to London!


Congratulations on having Interdimensional Pizza Pushers part of the Future Film Festival 2023, how does it feel to be part of such an incredible line-up of short films?


Thank you so much! I feel incredibly honoured to have been selected among such a wide variety of truly incredible films. Getting the opportunity to screen my film alongside such amazing works truly is an honour that I’m immensely grateful for.


You’re a graduate from the Parsons School of Design, what was your time at Parsons like and how much did this experience help prepare you for your filmmaking journey?


I spent a lot of my time at Parsons trying to discover a voice that I could call my own. I explored so many mediums and styles during my four years there, but by the time I was ready to graduate I still hadn’t found anything remotely close to something I could call my own. While working on my thesis film, Interdimensional Pizza Pushers, I challenged myself to explore new mediums and delve deeper into some styles that I had previously enjoyed working in. It wasn’t until creating the thumbnail for my film and collaging the 2D characters with the 3D backgrounds, however, that I truly found a style that I enjoyed and felt I could call my own.

I’m now back at Parsons teaching the animation class that I first took as a second year student, and the very same class that made me fall in love with animation in the first place.


How important are festivals like Future Film Festival in creating a platform for short films?


I think festivals such as this are fundamental in creating a platform for short films from younger artists, which is something that really seldom exists elsewhere. The BFI Future Film Festival is able to highlight so many different and unique voices that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise, so I’m incredibly grateful for where they shine their spotlight.

Can you tell me how Interdimensional Pizza Pushers, came about, what was the inspiration behind your film?


As I said before, I’d really wanted to find an artistic voice that I could call my own, so I decided to use this film as an excuse to search for that voice. I needed to come up with some sort of narrative that would allow the various changing styles to make sense, so I decided to go with a pizza delivery company since by their very nature they have to travel around to different destinations. I guess any kind of delivery companies do that, but pizza was the first that came to mind!

While preparing for my film, I watched a tremendous amount of Pokémon to study that show’s use of limited animation. It has always been one of my favourite shows, and a huge influence on me and my work, so going back to it and watching the entire first season through the lens of an animation researcher hugely influenced the making of my film!


"I cant even begin to count the number of things that have gone wrong with my projects and so many things that friends have worked on over the years."

When working on a film like this how close do you like to stick to your vision and story that you want to tell once you start shooting, do you allow for much flexibility?


I’m not a huge fan of storyboarding, as I really like to animate quickly and almost improv as I go sometimes, and much prefer just working with a shot list. For this film, however, I storyboarded the entire thing with post-it notes which allowed me to rearrange shots as needed and quickly scrap some stickies to replace with others. This worked really well for me when actually creating the film, because I feel like it let me keep some of that feeling of improv while also guiding me along. I was able to pre-cut and edit as I was animating with the stickies, and it made the whole process much more flexible!


Was it challenging combining 2D, 2D and claymation you faced making Interdimensional Pizza Pushers?


Combining everything was actually the best part! My style now largely revolves around the combination of 2D characters in 3D environments and backgrounds, which is my favourite thing to do. I will say–I really have very little desire to ever touch claymation again. Not that I won’t, because I definitely will, but animation is already so time-consuming that claymation feels like absolute torture to me. That being said, I have the utmost respect for claymation animators and the patience they have, because I really do think it is one of the most beautiful artforms.

Is this a creative process that you will continue with in the future?


While I’ve largely just been working in my freelance practice and making much smaller shorts (all under a minute or so), I really do want to create a new film. I’ve had an idea for a short for a while now that I think would make an excellent animation, so I’m really hoping to start that one day! For the time being, working on these micro-shorts a couple times a year keeps me going.


Looking back, what would you say have been the most valuable lessons you’ve taken from making this short?


I think by far the most valuable lesson I took away from making this short was to take care of myself and my body while animating. It is so easy as a filmmaker and animator to become obsessed with one’s work to the point where you forget that you have to eat and sleep and actually take care of this vessel that carries you around. It’s something that I still struggle with constantly, but working on this film was a huge wake up call that it’s something that I can’t ignore.


Where did this passion for animation come from?


Growing up, I never really wanted to be an animator. I guess I never really thought about it like that, or even really considered it as a real career even though I adored animation. I was one of those kids that was CONSTANTLY watching cartoons. I was an only child, so during times where I was alone with my mom and she needed me to not be absolutely insane and bouncing off the walls, she would sit me down with our little portable DVD player and a case of cartoons. I spent my childhood watching everything from Scooby Doo to The Simpsons and ate it all up. It wasn’t until I took my first college course in animation during my time in the Illustration program at Parsons that I really fell in love with the idea of animation and actually realized its potential as a career opportunity. Ever since that first class, I’ve been hooked and have hardly wanted to do anything else!

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Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?


I think there’s something to say for finding one’s niche and exploring that, but I’m a firm believer of trying to push myself with every project I make. Even if that doesn’t necessarily mean in a narrative sense, I always want to learn a new skill, explore a new technique, or experiment with a new medium when I’m making a project. I feel like, personally, if you’re not learning while making, then what’s the point!?


What top 3 tips would you offer a fellow filmmakers?


Number one would have to be remember to take care of yourself! Don’t forget that you’re a real life human with a body that needs to be taken care of, and you can’t forget about your mental health either! No, no, no. Number two would have to be to remember to save and backup all of your files in multiple places. I can’t even begin to count the number of things that have gone wrong with my projects and so many things that friends have worked on over the years. Hit Command S and set up autosave! Number three I guess would be to not rush the process. I know this is way harder said than done and something I struggle with constantly, but it is always so much better to let something sit for awhile and revisit it with a fresh set of eyes than to just get it out there–no matter how tempting it may be to just be done with it.


And finally, what massage do you hope your audiences will take away from Interdimensional Pizza Pushers?


Ever since making this film I’ve thought that as long as it makes one person smile I’ll be happy! The story isn’t profound or “deep” by any means, and certainly doesn’t make you think about life’s great questions, but I think that that’s ok. I think that there’s not enough emphasis on the importance of work that exists for the sole purpose of trying to bring people joy, and that’s truly all I want with my work. It’s not a particularly happy world out there most of the time, so anything I can make that can bring someone out of the harsh reality of life and put a smile on their face is a successful piece to me.

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