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30th March 2016
Poetry in motion
Title of film: I Have Dreamed Of You So Much
Director: Emma Vakarelova
Newly-graduated Emma Vakarelova brings a distinctive new voice to the world of animation. Here Benoit Berthe talks with the young animator about her painterly interpretation of Robert Desnos’ poem I Have Dreamed Of You So Much You Are No Longer Real (J’ai tant rêvé de toi).

Please tell us about the creative process for your stunning visual and poetic short film, I Have Dreamed Of You So Much?

Robert Desnos’s poem I Have Dreamed Of You So Much inspired me to  animate many ideas I already had in mind. I started with a few sketches and graphic research where I tried to express myself without any constraint.

Although I knew there would be changes to the storyboard and the animatic, there were certain images that I absolutely wanted to be in the film, for example, the shot at the end when the small boat sails away until it becomes the horizon in a coloured ray, a little bit like the green ray in nature.

At the beginning of pre-production I spent a lot of time experimenting with different concepts because I didn’t want to represent only visual ideas but I also wanted to convey some philosophical and scientific ideas – combining all of them was quite a challenge.

The fact that the short had to be only three minutes long, no less, no more was also challenging. My sister Kalina Svezhin helped by writing a script as a base which helped me a lot with developing the final version of the film.

When I had these steps in place I started the real design of the character and environment, and the animation came together very quickly during this process. I wanted the surrealistic and cosmic feeling to be present not only in the visual but also in the animation, the music and the voice.

I like to start at the core, the deep essential centre, when I do a film.  I start from the inside and finally add the layers towards the exterior.

Your personal path is already quite rich and diverse – you paint, illustrate, draw cartoons, make animations, you have exhibitions and publications… Please tell us how and why you were drawn to animation?

I have a curious nature, I like to experiment, to discover, I like art in general! I am also passionate about sculpture, ceramics and music…

I completed my high school diploma in art, specialising in sculpture, at Sofia’s national high school in Bulgaria. We studied a lot of academic drawings, paintings and etchings. That was a wonderful school that gave me a foundation. Then I naturally moved to illustration and went to the French school Estienne in Paris.

I also spent another specialised year at the Royal Académie of Illustration of Bruxelles, and moved then to comic book illustration at the EESI European School of Images of Angoulême for two years.

After all these different experiences, animation was an obvious domain I had to experiment with. Actually I think I’ve always dreamed of doing it! So I went to the animation school La Poudrière in Valence. There I started to do my own films.

For me, the borders between painting, illustration and cartoons don’t really exist. Art is a wide and infinite field where I walk, barefoot, looking for who I am.  Sometimes the nature of the earth on which I walk is changing a bit, but the direction stays the same, and the research that moves me is always the same.

Animation is able to touch almost all the human senses. That’s what draws me to it.

How did this opportunity of directing a short film for French television come about?

I Have Dreamed Of You So Much is part of a collection of 12 other poetic short films shown during a children’s show on a national French channel, as well as at the cinema. It is produced by Tant Mieux Prod. Our short last year was based on the poetry of Robert Desnos, and this year it will be about the poetry of Guillaume Appolinaire with a different team of new directors …

We all became involved through a national contest open to students freshly graduated from the French animation schools.

What did you learn from this experience of being in this young talent directors group?

I have to say that it was for me a huge chance to be part of this project! It was my first professional experience in animation too. Everything had been done to help and support us young directors, in every step of the making process. At the very beginning, for example, we met during a residence in the Fontevraud Abbey, where several amazing people working in direction, writing, story boarding, or music composition for films. It was a great opportunity for us to be able to discuss our projects with them, to get advice from professionals at an early stage of our film development.

Some of your short films are based on poetry and metaphors – for instance The Night of the Days or Before I Became An Island, and visually are close to  modern or surrealist paintings. What are your inspirational roots, what feeds your work?

My mother is a Bulgarian poet, the sound of my childhood was the sound of a typewriter, I was surrounded by books (on which I scribbled). I think it marked me in a certain way, it’s probably not a random thing that poetry inspires me… Old haïkus as well.

Otherwise, I get inspired by pretty much everything – my own errors, using wrong expressions to say something, madness, trees, museums, the cosmos etc…

Do you have new projects coming up?

Absolutely, I am now working on a film based on my sister’s novel Dark Story About Light.

Any future dreams?

I would like to direct a music video, for a band that I like… Direct another surrealistic short film inspired by my mother’s poems. I would like to keep painting and do some exhibition with it. And also finish this graphic novel about Mr Nobody in scratch card, a project I started long time ago.

I would like to work on my Aïkido practice, I would like to get married to a cosmonaut … should I keep going? 😀



Emma Vakarelova’s website here


I Have Dreamed Of You So Much Director: Emma Vakarelova Scriptwriter: Kalina Svezhin Sound: Yan Volsy Voice: Jaques Gamblin Editing: Thomas Belair Producer: Tant Mieux Prod (2015) Broadcast on France 3