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15th BFI FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 
17-20 February 
Interview

Miriam Lazrak
Butterflies in the Stomach
Section: Hearts On Fire
instagram.com/miriamlazrak

Marius is a meticulous barista. One day, following his meeting with Valentine, strange symptoms start to manifest, preventing him from doing his work.  It’s hard to serve coffee when you see everything in pink and when butterflies are coming out your mouth. 

 

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

 

Thank you for receiving me!  

Everything is great now but back in the beginning of the pandemic it was pretty intense between the production of Butterflies in the Stomach and finding a job in the animation industry.

 

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

 

I recently started to work in the animation industry just after finishing my animation film school. The searching process and the different jobs I had didn’t give me much time to work on personal projects. I can wait to take some time off to think about new ideas and projects though! 

 

What does it mean to be screening Butterflies in the Stomach at the 15th BFI Future Film Festival?

 

To be completely honest with you, you are the one who gave me the good news! I was so happy and surprised; I couldn't believe it. Being part of the BFI Future Film Festival is such an honor, especially in the Hearts on Fire selection!

 

Butterflies in the Stomach is going to be in the Hearts On Fire Section of the festival, will there be any nerves ahead of the festival?

 

I was so surprised that I didn't have much time to stress about it (laugh). No, not nerves but I feel incredibly grateful that Butterflies in the Stomach can resonate with some people. 

The selection in the collection “Hearts on Fire” affected me greatly because as they say in the description “love is inconvenient, often messy and always imperfect” but it really “does make the world go round” and it truly was the idea I wanted to share in my film.

Can you tell me a little bit about how Butterflies in the Stomach came about, what was the inspiration behind your film?

 

I met someone just before my graduation year and it made me feel kind of weird; I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I was feeling dizzy, distracted, my heart was racing, and I was euphoric every time I was with him or thinking about him. It was very new to me and I realized I was falling in love for the first time. 

In french the expression “tomber amoureux” (falling in love), looks similar to “tomber malade” (getting sick) and I wanted to play with the similarities of those two “conditions” in an absurd and funny way like having real butterflies coming out of Marius’s mouth.

When working on a short film like this how close where you able to keep to your screenplay once you started shooting, did you allow yourself much flexibility?

 

We only had 10 months to make our graduation films which was kind of short for animation production so I couldn’t allow myself much flexibility. Once a production step was finished, I tried to lock it and move on to the next one to try to finish my film in time!

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Butterflies in the Stomach to life?

 

Making the film during the lockdown has definitely been a big challenge!

We’ve gone from the creative atmosphere of our animation school to our tiny Parisians apartments overnight (laugh). Psychologically it was hard to stay motivated when you are alone, therefore we set up with some friends a daily zoom appointment to keep working together even remotely. It was what made us hold up during these very particular times.  

 

Since making Butterflies in the Stomach what has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from making this film and will you continue to write/direct short films?

 

It may sound a little cheesy but to believe in myself (laugh)! I was so stressed and nervous to make a film by myself that in the beginning of the production I was kind of paralysed and was making progress very slowly. But the minute I started to think ''it's ok you can do this” (thanks to the endless encouragement and support of my friends!) I was able to stop overthinking and could move forward.

 

As challenging as it was, I absolutely loved this experience, and I truly wish that I’ll have new opportunities to write and direct other short films!

 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

 

I was born and raised in Tunisia and as far as I can remember my two favourite things in the world were reading books and drawing. One day during high school I was reading a novel where the main character was working in the animation field, that’s when it hit me. I knew that it was EXACTLY what I wanted to do with my life, being able to tell stories through drawings.

I went to Paris after graduating high school and got into an animation school (l’Atelier Supérieur d’Animation)  where I learned about how to make animated films, from the writing of the scenario to the post production. During this time I absolutely loved making short films projects with my friends. I felt so lucky doing something I was so passionate about! 

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"If you have the chance to go to a film school, it will give you valuable tools, introduce you to passionate people and hopefully give you the opportunity to direct short films."

As well as write and direct Butterflies in the Stomach you also edited and served as DOP, how do you manage all these roles on a film like this? 

 

I had the chance to be surrounded by great teachers who guided me through the process of making Butterflies in the stomach. I also had the support of my classmates who gave me valuable advice and helped me when I had doubts.

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

 

Of course! They should stay true to themselves and have the courage to tell the stories that lies in their hearts.

 

For anyone out there thinking about getting into animation do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

 

Believe in yourself, stay curious and creative and don't give up, even if it’s getting very tough. If you have the chance to go to a film school, it will give you valuable tools, introduce you to passionate people and hopefully give you the opportunity to direct short films.

 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Butterflies in the Stomach?

To take the risk of love! It may be scary but don’t let your fear of something new make you miss out what it may have to offer you.  I wanted Butterfly in the Stomach to be funny and light-hearted, if it make the audience smile during the screening, I'd be sincerely happy. 

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