Saturday, 27 April 2013

interview: Darren Etienne

Darren Etienne wrote and directed The Entomologist, a quite superb animated short. I spoke with Darren on 11th January 2001 because the organisation I was then working for, East Midlands Arts, had part-funded the film. At the time, Darren had just discovered that The Entomologist had made it past the first round of BAFTA selection (although it didn’t make it onto the eventual short list).

Congratulations on the BAFTA news. How did that happen?
"We knew the competition would be pretty stiff. We're pitching against companies who have done this before, maybe even won a BAFTA. I was scanning the festivals page of the BFI website when I found a link to a page that said, 'get your BAFTA applications in' and we'd just finished the film. From about 200 films we're now on a list of 20, which is very exciting.”

What is the film’s history?
"We received a bursary from East Midlands Arts in May 1997 and started production towards the end of that summer. We finally finished the film in August 2000, three years later. It's been a struggle, but people's response has been very good. That initial support from EMA chuffed us no end - it was very important.”

So what now?
"We're going to spend this year sending the film off to festivals. Next week I'm taking it to the Abbeville Festival in France.

What problems have you faced in making what is a very ambitious project?
"We've had plenty of problems along the way. One of our cameras - well, actually our camera! - developed a fault, and even when it came back after being repaired it still wasn't right. We had a black bar on the image, but fortunately because we were editing on video we could digitally enlarge the image to move the bar off the frame. We would love to be able to transfer back to a film print but we don't have the money for that right now.”

What about the production design?
"We had a friend who did a degree in sculpture, then did an MA in Film and Television Design, and we asked him to do some sketches for the room in which the later part of the film is set. He came back to us with really detailed plans and drawings, so we then asked him to build the whole set, which he did. And he did a fantastic job.”

You directed the film with your brother.
"My brother Jason and I directed the film between us, from a script by myself. It was produced by me, Jason and Mark Swain, who designed and built the sets. We also had some help from the Lighthouse in Brighton and from South East Arts.”

What’s your background?
"This is my first animated film. I studied illustration and fine art and later did an HND in film and video, specifically to learn about animation and study technique. I've been interested in this all my life. I've always drawn, but I was never sure whether painting was my thing or sculpture was my thing. Everything that I'm interested in - and the same for Jason - is involved in animation."

interview originally posted before November 2004

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