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LBB Film Club: the rift


Eddy and blinkink director, Olivier Lescot speaks to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about the inspiration behind this old school black and white suspenseful short animation, packed with equal portions of action and emotion

LBB Film Club: the rift

Director of ‘the rift,’ a high octane short, Olivier Lescot is not a stranger to expressive drawing, one-shot sequences and immersive experiences in animation. By immersive, think strategic camera positioning in order to envelope the spectator into a both graphic and cinematic universe, stopping them from even thinking about looking away. The action-packed and breathtaking animation is inspired by Tommy Lee Jones, Sin City and the whole “great range of American cinema” surrounding him and does not spare the presence of emotions in characters at the expense of action.

‘The rift’ is a collision between the raw simplicity of a black and white film and the tension-loaded atmosphere of an old school spy film, all tied together with some brilliant animation. Olivier encompasses the setting quite well: “The main character has set foot in a world that is dangerous for him, and he is going to suffer the violence of it, a bit like the average man who watches the major events from afar, but Tommy has enough class to fight.” Starting with a simple black line on a white screen, and also ending on one, ‘the rift’ is an ode to a time long gone but still cosy in audiences’ memories, it knows exactly what it has to achieve. 

Eddy and blinkink's director Olivier Lescot spoke to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about the most difficult part of the animation, the inspiration and all that he wanted to achieve through this work. 

LBB> What was the idea behind the film and the initial conversations surrounding it?

Olivier> The concept for this project, from a technical point of view, was to have as few steps as possible between the first draft and the final result, in order to keep the freedom and expressiveness of the first drawings.
So after the first layer of roughs, I moved directly to the final drawings, which were then composited.
The idea was to have the shortest possible path between the emergence of an idea and its realisation, to get away from the classic process of traditional animation which can be a bit arduous, to create a sense of freedom in the animation.

LBB> When it comes to the animation style, it is really interesting how speed is depicted. There are many ways to do that, but how did you choose your own way? 

Olivier> The one-shot sequence immerses the spectator in the action without any breaks, creating a real-time sensation in step with the characters. We take a breath of fresh air as we are immersed in a universe, a particular space of time in the middle of the great snowy plains where the action takes place.
However, I wanted to avoid the pitfall of certain sequence shots which don’t really go anywhere, which are more about style than substance.

So I thought deeply about the action, and where to place the camera, so that we are in the most interesting position in relation to the action, and I tried to forget about the sequence shot as a means in and of itself. The action is not the hardest thing. In animation, it is more the acting and the emotions of the characters that are the most technically demanding.

For this project, the difficulty was, just like in an animation with camera movement, to draw the right key poses according to the action of the character and the camera movement
If this is well done, the animation is not more complex than in a still shot.

LBB> Tell us about the artistic direction and why it resonated with you, what were the choices made surrounding it?

Olivier> Tommy Lee Jones is a great actor, and represents a great range of American cinema, which is among other things the subject of my film. He is known for big blockbusters like ‘The Fugitive’ or ‘Men In Black’, but also for the films of the Coen brothers, of Bertrand Tavernier... And of course some great flops!
He also represents a somewhat old school mindset, from a former world, a perfect figure to express decline, in opposition to a modern world that chases him. I wanted to give the feeling of landing in the middle of a story, with a past and a future. I think it gives body to the characters and to the story, it gives the feeling that there is a world outside the picture that exists even when it is not film.

The main character has set foot in a world that is dangerous for him, and he is going to suffer the violence of it, a bit like the average man who watches the major events from afar, but Tommy has enough class to fight.

Here are some of my inspirations: the Coen brothers, Michael Mann, Animatrix, Otomo, Koike, Myiazaki, Mamoru Oshii, Ridley Scott, Georges Lucas, and many others.

LBB> The music is quite nostalgic of old spy films. How did you choose it and why was it the best choice for the film?

Olivier> Fabrice Smajda created the music and sound effects. We wanted to build a mysterious and strange atmosphere, more like a thriller or horror than a pure action film, which the image already expresses. We found it interesting that the music speaks more about the universe and a wider context to enrich the film.

Fabrice had the great idea to use string instruments, it created a texture and an original touch that helps to give the feeling of a singular universe.

Personally, what I like the most while watching a movie is when it’s situated in a specific space and time, an original world where it’s cool just being there, a little bit like when we watch ‘Ghost in the Shell’ or ‘Blade Runner’.

The music of Fabrice allows, in a certain way, to create a small world which escapes from the clichés, that I also wanted to avoid in the animation and the direction.

LBB> What is the message behind the story?

Olivier> The first intention was to make a film in pure black and white, just in drawing.

Then I said to myself that with Thomas Ricquier, with whom I often work, we could do something a little cinematographic and give more depth and richness to the image.

The main reference to  Sin City that I had discovered as a teenager and that had marked him, was the intro credits of ‘Raised by Wolves’, a series produced by Ridley Scott, with a very carefully constructed image in black and white with points of colours.

LBB> Anything else you’d like to share?

Olivier> I'm currently working on the sequel and a lot of other projects.

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