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5th October 2015
Prickly subject
Title of film: Smart Meter
Director: Gold Cactus
Production Company: Picasso Pictures
Gold Cactus is the animation directing duo, Remy Dupont and Fabrice Fiteni who first met at Supinfocom. We catch up on their work and why they would want to trade the South of France for London

How did you two meet and why did you decide to join forces as Gold Cactus?

We met at Supinfocom Arles (MOPA), we were in the same class for five years. After the graduation we both moved to London. We had the chance to work on a few projects together as Freelancers. We quickly realised that we had really complementary skills, so we joined forces and decided to direct together. Gold Cactus was born.

Gold Cactus, great name, how did you come up with it?

For the name we were looking for something different, something not really used in the animation industry, so straight away we liked the idea of “Cactus” as they have so much personality and can make great characters. They are also strong and at the same time really beautiful. For the “Gold” it was to represent the quality we want to achieve.

Please talk us through your creative process together.  Do you have different strengths and weaknesses or do you work on the various stages of production simultaneously?

When we work on a project, we first discuss the direction we want to take, and then Fabrice will work on the storyboard, animatic 2D and 3D. After the 3D animatic Remy will work on the modelling using the 3D animatic as a base, then he will move onto Texturing, Rendering and Compositing. While Fabrice focuses on the Animation.  Having complementary skills really helps when it comes to production.

How do you develop your narratives and characters – are you finding you have similar tastes and humour and the stories unfold naturally? Or do you take scripts written by others and you develop the visuals?

When it comes to commercial projects we usually receive a script based on what the client/ agency would like to see. Then we think about what will work best – we’re not bound to a specific humour or visual aspect. We just try to bring what’s best for the project. That being said, stories unfold naturally not because we have similar tastes or humour but because we’re ok with anything that will make the project better.

For personal projects it’s almost the same method. One of us brings a visual and the other tries to find what animation style will match. It could be a performance, a simple animation test or trying news skills and softwares to develop something cool. No restrictions!

How do your styles differ?

In fact, we don’t try to input our own styles separately. Once we’ve created an idea we try to focus on our respective parts. At the end, the style comes out naturally from the combination of our work. We trust and rely on each other and we’re always happy with the result. Besides it’s a good way to have some detachment to your work. It helps you appreciate what you’ve done.

Elements of your work look as if they have been handcrafted. Is this true or is this simply part of your cgi art?

It is part of the way we think about the project and what we want it to look like.The way we work our CGI art is based on observation of the real world in order to recreate it in a first stage and enhancing it in a second stage. Our goal is to make our work as credible as possible.

 

I hear that you were commissioned for a commercial piece very soon after being signed to Picasso’s The Pod. Please tell us about that. What was the brief and how did you develop it?

We were commissioned to do the Smart Energy GB campaign, they approached us with written scripts and wanted to work with us to develop the characters. One represents Gas and the other one Electricity. That was a great experience as they loved our design from the start and gave us the opportunity to work on an animation test and later to do the whole campaign.

You’ve moved to London from the South of France – was this wise?!!

It really depends of what you are looking for in life, in terms of work and culture London is a really dynamic and inspiring city, but on another hand the sun is a little bit shy here.

What are the key lessons you’ve learnt about film making ?

Don’t be too attached to an idea.

Another important thing is to believe in the project as sometimes the process can be long and challenging, but the end result is always rewarding. Working as a team is a really important part too as it allows us to share our passion as well as have another perspective on projects.

What would your dream job be?

To our mind we’re already doing the dream Job, haha ! We are able to develop our creativity and cultivate the passion we have for filmmaking and live off that.

We just want to be able to work on as much project as possible and.. We would like to work on a lot of different projects in order to explore new techniques and experiment things.

Any inspirations that have connected with you recently?

Laika and Sony animation have been a really big source of inspiration for us. Laika is really inspiring in terms of visual as it’s Stop Motion animation, the fact that everything is real (Model making) brings a lot of realism and a handcraft feeling, something we feel affectionate about.

Sony has been really inspiring because we feel that they are not afraid to challenge themselves and try new things, visual wise and animation wise.

Credits