First things first: How did you two meet and what made you realize you wanted to work together?
We met during an “E.T. merch collectors fair”, Ben was wearing a german shephard jersey, and Julia was wearing a Clouseau tee shirt.
We were both at a point of our career, where everything is possible if you take a chance and we decided we take it together.
What do you do when it’s time off from work or is work a constant reference?
We take care of our adorable two little girls 🙂 , we try to have some moments without thinking of work.
Sometimes it’s hard to make a break, we are kind of obsessed with personal projects that we carry since years, last time we checked there were around 40 projects / films ready to be made.
French – Swiss but you live in Berlin, what was behind the move to the German city?
We loved Berlin since the first moment we landed here, we quickly made a bunch of friends and met a lot of other artists/ directors, things that never really happened in Paris.
People are not so competitive here, or at least not for the same reason.
Julia studied at St Martins and lived 5 years in London, I stayed 10 years in Paris…
Berlin seemed like the perfect solution for us.
It allowed us to open a studio with post-production facilities, buy shooting material and be consistent with what is happening in the director/ artist world, we believe that the work has dramatically changed in last couple of years and I’m not sure we would still be doing that if we had moved anywhere else.
Puppetry, 2D, 3D, illustration, live action – there’s quite a range of creative arts between you. Do you have similar skill sets or do you mix and match acquire different talents?
We mix and match, we know our strengths but very often, Julia or I intervene in each category, the one who feels inspired should do the part, in the end it always comes very intuitively, and we are big fan of each other work which help avoiding conflicts.
I love when she draws storyboard for example, most of the time I do it but the characters in there are so expressive !
It’s not really one can call a “classic” storyboard but it looks so funny and full of energy…
At what point of the process do you decide on the form the character is going to become – the materials its made of, its look and feel. Do you craft the characters yourself? Do you write the narratives first and then develop the characters?
Ok first of all, in general we start by discussing and sketching in a café or at home, it can take a while until all the elements that compose a character come together, or sometime very quickly, a little sketch, boom Julia finds him a name.
Then the material he is made of… Or we start with sketching or we just open couple of the magic boxes we keep at the studio, full of props from journey abroad, Joke shop, old toys, props from shoot and start adding elements and playing around.
We treat the narrative separately, it happens sometimes that a physical detail comes out of this process, like in the promo “Nothing to Celebrate” where PEKE the Pekingese dog ended up with massive testicules.
Can you describe your creative process please – do you slosh around ideas until you both agree on a plan of action? Is it always harmonious or do you sometimes disagree?
It has been quite a long time now that we work together, so I would say it is mostly based on trust and love, we don’t fight so often anymore 🙂
Sometime we ask each other: Are you sure ? Are you sure it’s going to work? You know what you are doing?
If the other one is confident then let’s go but we have done enough mistakes and encountered a sufficient amount of difficulties to know that if there is a doubt, we can solve it by discussing.
And I have to make a confession, Julia has a gift:
She can make anything look good.
So basically I rely on that during the entire project, because I know in the end she will make it work, ah ah!
When are you at your happiest in the film making process?
At the beginning, when we pitch or develop a project, when everything is still possible and sketch books surround us.
But we always make sure to have during the entire process, relaxing shoot, well planned post, so the job always stays something pleasant.
Pizza Express, Snoughballs
Dir/Art Dir: Ben&Julia
Prod: Richard Skinner
Prod Co: Skin Flicks
Lead Animator: Niels Jansson
Composer: Nick Faber
Song Writer: Joe Tucker
Creative: Richard Skinner
Creative Dir: Otherway
Agency Producer: Otherway