A few weeks ago, Atlanta Film and TV was fortunate to screen the short animated film The Kite during the Atlanta Film Festival, and, recently, we sat down via Skype, and interviewed the twenty-nine-year-old Slovakian Stop Motion Animator, and Filmmaker, Martin Smatana.
Martin studied Animation in Prague, Czech Republic at a film school called FAMU (pronounced FAM-OO.) And, in 2019, Martin completed his graduation film titled The Kite, which is
A short puppet animated film for kids. The Kite talks about the issue of death but in a simple, metaphoric, and symbolic way. It explains the fact that none of us are here forever, and all living creatures must die. But, on the other hand, it shows that someone’s journey doesn’t have to end with death.
Atlanta Film and TV: Why did you choose to use stop-motion animation?
Martin Smatana: I chose Stop-Motion Animation because I enjoy working manually and I love working with different materials. I also enjoy creating things that are handmade, much more than digital animation.
Whenever I created a film for adults, but somehow they wound up being for children, and in the end, I realized that I was comfortable creating films for them.
Atlanta Film and TV: How long was the animation process?
Maritn Smatana: The entire animation process took about three years to complete. Two of the three years were spent writing and rewriting the story. I wrote at least twenty different versions of the script because I wanted to talk about a difficult subject, which is death. Along with the fact that the film was created without dialogue, and I wanted to make the film symbolic and understandable for children, at the same time I wanted the film to have a happy ending.
The third year, we spent filming and when we shot the film we closed ourselves off in a big room for a couple of months until we completed the project.
Atlanta Film and TV: We noticed that you used different textures of what looked like fabric in the animation. What inspired this use?
Martin Smatana: The wind was the inspiration behind us utilizing fabric in creating the world in The Kite because it was as though it was the third character in the film. The fabric and textiles were moved by touching and moving them, and it was as though we created an engine of the wind. We not only created our own wind, but we also had wind animated for this project.
Atlanta Film and TV: Did COVID-19 slow down any of this production, and if so, how?
Martin Smatana: COVID-19 did not slow down the production of The Kite. But, I have had to delay my next film, which is a short, outdoor film because of it.
Atlanta Film and TV: What is the animation scene like in Slovakia?
Martin Smatana: The animation scene in Slovakia is small because we don’t have a strong tradition here as in The Czech Republic. There are a lot of people in Slovakia who do hand drawing and digital animation, but the number of stop-motion animators is small. However, in The Czech Republic, there are more famous, and well-known stop-motion animation masters.
Atlanta Film and TV: We’ve interviewed an animator on our blog before, and know that it can be a tedious process. What words of advice would you give to aspiring animators?
Martin Smatana: Some words of advice I’d give to aspiring animators would first be to not give up and to be patient. Even though it’s hard work, have fun, and not take it too seriously. And, lastly, to work on whatever story you’re creating as much as possible.
For more information on Martin Smatana, be sure to check out his website.
You can also follow him on Instagram @martin.smatana