With the Mon 3 July deadline for entries to this year’s DepicT! – Watershed’s super short film competition – beginning to loom on the cinematic horizon, we took some time out to catch up with Croatian director Petra Balekic, one of last year’s DepicT! winners, to get her insights into what it takes to be successful DepicT! filmmaker.
DepicT! prides itself on both the quality of its films and the filmmakers who submit them. Some of our entrants are seasoned directors, enticed by the filmmaking challenges of DepicT’s uniquely constrained format. But not all of our shortlisted filmmakers come with oodles of experience under their belt before they enter.
Take a look at Petra’s bite-sized gem Impacts for example – originally made as part of an entrance exam for her MA in animation – which scooped her both the DepicT! ’16 Random Acts Award and the festival Main Award after drawing praise from the Jury for its simple and bold execution.
Here’s what Petra had to say about getting started, how to improve, and the doors that DepicT! can open…
Can you describe your winning DepicT! film for us and how you came up with the idea?
"My film is a 2D animation that thematises violence towards the individuals who refuse to follow society's norms. The idea for this film came from observing a society that is often very closed and not prepared to accept behaviors that are unusual for its particular surrounding."
What drew you to the DepicT! 90 second format?
"I'd actually made this film before I found out about DepicT! but I just thought it fitted the entry criteria so well. But I'm generally interested in the short form because it allows me to go straight to the point. That's what I like. And that's why I think the 90 second format is really great. But at the same time it's very challenging because there’s only very short amount of time in which to present a meaningful story that has a head and a tail."
How did you find the making of your DepicT! film?
"It was hard, because I had no experience before, but also interesting, because I was really passionate about learning animation. Afterwards I realised it should've been done in much less time and with much less effort but I wasn't aware of it in that moment."
What was your level of experience before submitting to DepicT?
"I was a graduate student at the Animation and New Media Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and I'd previously graduated from the Graphic Arts department. But I had no experience in animation before I made this film; it was my first one and I actually made it as part of an entrance exam for the MA in Animation."
What have you been up to since your DepicT! success? Where did the competition take you?
"Afterwards the film was also shown as part of Confrontations Competition at Interfilm - Short Film Festival in Berlin. I was invited there after they found out the film was awarded the main prize at DepicT! so I'm really grateful to organisers of DepicT! for giving the film this exposure. At the moment I'm preparing to make my next short animated film, and if everything goes well it should be finished in 2019. In the meantime I also graduated with another short film named The Stranger in My Head. It's a four and a half minute long animation based on my memories of the Albert Camus's book The Stranger that I read twelve years ago. The film is going be part of Animafest in Zagreb next month and I hope it's going to appear at many festivals in the next couple of years."
Can you sum up why DepicT! is important to emerging filmmakers?
"DepicT! is very focused on the idea and author's potential and it accepts films of any budget. So it's really helpful to young and emerging filmmakers who have talent but didn't get a chance to find funds or have a basic knowledge when it comes to film industry. DepicT! gives a couple of awards that are helping talented directors to integrate into film industry more easily - there's a chance to get free lessons at BAFTA, a lifetime membership at Shooting People, have your film shown on Channel 4’s Random Acts. And the 90 second format itself is important for emerging filmmakers because it helps with learning how to summarise your idea in order to make a film that is clear to the audience."
What would be your top three tips for this year's DepicT! entrants?
"Choose a topic you're really passionate about. Make a simple but remarkable design and summarise as much as you can."
DepicT! ’17 is currently open for entries. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a big budget or a teeny tiny one; whether you specialise in live action, animation or documentary; whether you live for horror, comedy or romance; or hail from Australia, Argentina or Croatia - so long as your film is less than a minute and a half long. It’s completely free to enter and there’s up to £2500 prize money, invaluable industry exposure as part of Encounters Short film and Animation Festival, plus other exclusive prizes up for grabs.