Nerdeo: Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jannis, I am the proucer of “The Squonk” and co-wrote the screenplay.
Nerdeo: Tell us how you got involved with “The Squonk”?
In 2009, director Mike Bothe came up with the idea to make a short film about the Squonk, a legendary creature that is famous for its ugliness and loneliness. The story immediately resonated with me and we built a story around that sad little monster and I made it my thesis film at Film University Babelsberg. Though, it took us 3 years until we were able to shoot and now it’s been another three years of visual effects. If someone would have told me back then, I would have certainly rejected the project – so I am glad I was naive enough, as this project has turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
Nerdeo: What makes “The Squonk” different from other indies? What attracted you about this project?
I think it is a rare project, regarding both content and execution. The whole story takes place in a fairy tale forst and a desert – neither of which we have in Berlin. So we decided to go for old-school miniature models and built the whole world on a 1:12 scale. Yet the Squonk and the hunter were embodied by actors and so we built large-scale sets as well, bringing the layers together in post-production. The possibility to design all the landscapes ourselves gave us a certain freedom and we went for a look that is inspired by the paintings of romanticism, especially Caspar David Friedrich. As also the story bears a certain romanticist tone in it, so I think that content and visuals come together pretty nicely here.
Nerdeo: How did you come across Nerdeo to find more VFX related collaborations for your project?
One of our artists, Markus Lovadina, recommended Nerdeo. I had a look at the platform, which back then featured only two other projects, and thought: Well, let’s give it a try! And indeed, we found artists who were willing to take on the remaining tasks, it turned out to be a great success!
Nerdeo: Tell us a little about your typical workflow and preferred software choices?
Our whole workflow is the brainchild of VFX supervisor Timor Kardum (www.omstudios.de), whose Berlin-based company OMSTUDIOS has helped us since 2011. Shotgun has also been sponsoring our project from the start and that has proved absolutely crucial. All in all, I coordinated more than 200 VFX artists online and that would not have been possible without a proper management tool Shotgun is also the place where we manage our library of almost different 1,000 miniature plates from which the forest backgrounds for the individual scenes are compiled. The artists and VFX companies who supported us used their own tools, but mainly it was Nuke and Maya. Solid Angle generously provided us with a couple of Arnold licenses, which has led to some great imagery as well!
Nerdeo: On a personal note; what artists inspire you?
Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many, I need to confine myself to recet encounters! The probably most inspirational moment of 2015 was to see a play by Wolfram Lotz in Vienna. Everything this guy has written is absolutely ingenious. Visually, and perhaps more suitable for a VFX site, I keep returning to the photo works of Erik Johannson, these are absolutely stunning.
Nerdeo: Could you give any advice to someone looking to get into the VFX industry?
I think as in the entire film industry, it is important to get involved with projects you really fancy, artists you really admire. At first, you should prefer getting a good showreel/track record to earning lots of money.