The 16th Porsche Awards ceremony, organised jointly by The Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg and the National Film and Television School, was held at the Curzon Soho and hosted by the pleasingly-monogrammed Patrick Cahill, Havas’ Head of Film in London.
Fellow jurors were Cinematographer Thomas W. Kiennast; Veronika Jelsikova, EP Stink Rising Prague; Shai Hirschson, Creative Managing Director at GINGER x MassiveMusic, Berlin; and 1.4’s Lyndy Stout.
So without further ado here are the winners:
1st Prize (€3,911):
The Beauty, directed by Pascal Schelbli, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg Animation Institute.
2nd Prize (€2,911):
Aura, directed by Timm Völkner, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Motion Design course. (See interview with Timm below).
3rd Prize (€1,911):
Made for Strength, directed by Benjamin Leichtenstern, HFF Munich (University of Television and Film).
1st Prize (€3,911):
Brothers, directed by Nikolas Meyberg, Lazi Akademie, Germany
2nd Prize (€2,911):
The Chase, directed by Daniel Eceolaza, Germany
3rd Prize (€1,911):
Small Talk, directed by Magali Herzog and Miguel Schmid, Germany
The first prize winner Pascal Schelbli from the Filmakademie Baden Wurttemburg was highly commended in the 1.4 Awards and we’ll be catching up with him when his film, the superbly crafted The Beauty, is finished lapping the festival circuit. Meanwhile we chatted to Timm Volkner, also from the Filmakademie, about his animated film Aura to find there’s more to migraines than just a pain in the head.
It took the jury by surprise that your film which is very trippy was for migraine. What was behind your decision to focus on this illness?
When I was about 11 years old, I experienced visual disturbance for the first time. Flashy patterns growing in front of my eyes. Naively I assumed to have gained some kind of superpowers, almost as in being able to see “The Matrix” (which was a pretty new movie at the time).
After living with those disturbances for more than three years every two or three weeks, my parents sent me into a hospital for kids, where I was told that those disturbances can be part of a pre-warning phase right before a migraine attack. That phase is called an aura and can also include other symptoms like dizziness, nausea, numbness of extremities and more.
The common misconception about migraine is that it’s only about rather strong headaches, but as an unaffected person one wouldn’t know that it can be so much more than that.
With about 12-15% of the world’s population struggling with migraines, I almost felt obliged on a personal but also social level to use my graduate project as a way to stress the relevance of that topic, give migraine patients a feeling of being heard and at the same time have an educational effect with it.
Please tell us how the narrative evolved – did you start with the inner dialogue or did that come simultaneously with the animation.
I knew right from the start, that it wouldn’t be a standard explanatory movie about how migraines work or how statistics had changed over the years.
No, I wanted it to depict the emotional experience of a migraine patient during an attack. It was supposed to show the inner world in all its desperation and darkness. At the same time though, I didn’t want everybody to feel dragged down by a depressing topic or mood.
So, I basically started to write a love letter in which a yet unknown person seems to care a lot about the female protagonist. In it she expresses, how she was able to rely on that person on many levels and thereby creates a very positive impression of that stranger.
From there, I planned to create the visual layer in a very opposing manner, building up scenes with a destructive, almost violent character and consequently, in combination with the monologue, invoke a slightly disturbing overall mood.
In a nutshell this ambivalence helped me to stress the inner confusion and insecurity many migraine patients feel and would make the audience start to read between the lines.
You have a distinctive animation style – please tell us about your creative process on this project.
As almost always I started with a couple of style frames to narrow down a rough look and feel. I wanted it to feel haptic, yet very stylized to be able to show violence in a more abstract and “tolerable” way. A lot of animated textures represent the inner restlessness and constant emotional pressure that come with migraines and give the world an overall more analogue and organic look, which I felt was very important, since we are talking about something absolutely non-digital and real here.
I created almost all of the 2D assets in Illustrator and animated it in After Effects. Many of the backgrounds are actually done in 3D with Cinema 4D, while using cel shaded textures to maintain the overall 2D look and were composed in After Effects as well. A couple of frame-by-frame animated elements were done in Photoshop and later added on top of the AE comps.
When you received your award you were quick to acknowledge those who helped – what bits did your collaborators do?
Since it’s my graduate project the concept, script, designs and almost all animations were done by me. However, it’s more than important to acknowledge my team, because their contribution to the project was vital to let it become what it is now. In short, I simply couldn’t have done it without their help!
(1.4: See Credits below for Timm’s acknowledgement of his team.)
What were the most challenging aspects of making the film?
Nowadays we are used to getting constant input by using social media, VoD content and many more ways of moving image entertainment.
Our attention span constantly shrinks due to the high amount of content and the subconscious wish to maybe watch it all without having the actual time for it. Therefore finding images to support AURA’s monologue seemed to be on a very thin line.
On the one hand I didn’t want them to tautologically show the exact same thing we hear. However, due to the fast pace, making them so abstract could easily expect too much of the audience. Of course I wanted the viewer to feel but also to understand the film. Exploring and finding the right visual content to underline the spoken words while maintaining the necessary ambivalence probably was the biggest challenge for me and made me do many iterations of the storyboard until it just felt right.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The world is full of important issues, we have to think and talk about.
Migraine maybe isn’t the one in first place, but with almost 15% of the world’s population being affected, it’s definitely an illness, that can’t be ignored or dismissed as simple headaches.
People suffer strongly on a daily basis. Many lose their jobs, are unable to finish school or simply can’t attend their best friend’s birthday party.
It’s an illness that influences people’s lives on many levels and I hope AURA gives the emotional insight necessary to clear up misconceptions and maybe even help migraine patients to feel understood.
Idea/Screenplay: Pascal Schelbli
Director: Pascal Schelbli
Producer: Aleksandra Todorovic, Tina Vest
DoP: David Iskender Dinçer
Animation/ VFX Supervision: Noel Winzen, Pascal Schelbli/ Marc Angele
Editor: Pascal Schelbli
Music/ Sound Design: Alexander Wolf David, Petteri Sainio/ Robin Harff
School: Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg Animationsinstitut
Levi’s, Made For Strength
Idea/Screenplay: Benjamin Leichtenstern
Director: Benjamin Leichtenstern
Producer: Tanja Schmidbauer, Andreas Schmidbauer
DoP: Lukas Nicolaus
Production Design: Ann-Kathrin Eberhard
Animation/VFX Supervision: Andreas Engelhardt
Editor: Benjamin Leichtenstern
Music/Sound Design: David Reichelt, Andreas Goldbrunner, Gerhard Auer
School: University of Television and Film Munich
Director: Nikolas Meyberg
Producer: Dora Su
DoP: Jann Doeppert
Production Design: Alec Wei
Animation/VFX Supervision: Gwantsi Productions
Editor: Nikolas Meyberg
Music/Sound Design: Black Math “Lapse”/ Q
School: Alumnus Lazi Akademie
Idea/Screenplay: Alexandra Kinga Fekete / Daniel Eceolaza
Art Directors: Alexandra Kinga Fekete & Thorsten Osterberger
Director: Daniel Eceolaza
Producer: Jack Sharp, Danila Teterin & Torge Hillnhütter (Spingun Films)
DoP: Moritz Mössinger
Production Design: Jack Sharp, Danila Teterin & Torge Hillnhütter (Spingun Films
Editor: Daniel Eceolaza; Jack Sharp
Music/Sound Design: Garcia Picasso/ Philipp Teterin
No Film School // Creative Agency and Production Company: Spingun Films
Idea/Screenplay: Magali Herzog, Miguel Schmid
Director: Magali Herzog, Miguel Schmid
Producer: Mi-Ra Um
DoP: Julian Landweer
Production Design: Magali Herzog, Miguel Schmid
Animation/VFX Supervision: Magali Herzog, Miguel Schmid
Editor: Magali Herzog, Miguel Schmid
Music/Sound Design: David Stoltzenberg
School: No Filmschool // Other Young Talent
Timm Volkner‘s credits for Aura:
Fabienne Priess not only produced the film and but also gave tremendously important input during the concept phase, which helped me to explore new perspectives for both the script and the visuals.
Jan Brett, who did the sound design, really understood what kind of emotion I was aiming for and was able to tease out and push the important elements in the sound to create the gloomy atmosphere in the film, to shock, deceive and also texturize the scenes with sound.
Having worked many times with Andreas Skandy, I trusted him to take up the protagonist’s fragility and melancholy to tell her story with timeless and dreamy musical sounds. It was very important to me, that even though we see a lot of action and tension, the music would work against it. Unless you exactly know what causes them, migraines aren’t fully curable in 2019. So the music stays rather calm to create a kind of an itchy acceptance of the illness. In my mind Andreas did a tremendous job in hitting that exact emotion.
Two shots were animated by Ryoji Yamada, a Japanese exchange student, who is a very gifted animator. He did the eyes-to-monster morph and the animated colours, that turn into the galaxy. Again, I never could have done those shots nearly as good as he did.
Even though it only took her an hour or two, Marisa Wojtkowiak gave that project a soul by lending her beautiful voice. Being voice directed by the wonderful Olaf Mierau she nailed the characteristics, I was aiming for in the monologue, in an instant and we were more than happy to have won her for the project.
Obviously there were many others who helped a lot with their feedbacks and perspectives, not least, the inspiring stories of other migraine patients.