Director Eddie Alcazar on creating the Cannes-approved animated short The Vandal
We talk to the director on the creative process behind a unique film which has attracted attention from Darren Aronofsky and Steven Soderbergh.
- 27 July 2021
- Joey Levenson
After its debut at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival, director Eddie Alcazar’s animated short The Vandal is quickly proving itself as one to watch over the coming months. Part stop motion animation with infused live action scenes, the Darren Aronofsky-produced flick has made the rounds. Now, Eddie is currently in preproduction for the feature film Star, executive produced by Steven Soderbergh. So what exactly makes the short so creatively alluring? Apart from being a visually stunning and highly innovative black and white escapade of love and turmoil, it’s the visible hours of hard work which keeps critics and film industry insiders alike coming back for more. At the helm is a director, writer, producer, and former game developer. “My journey into directing started at a young age when I focused on VFX and 3D, and got a full scholarship to the Academy of Art in San Francisco,” Eddie tells It’s Nice That. “I then graduated and did video games for seven or eight years, which helped me make money doing something creative”. It was these seven or eight years that pushed Eddie to take the risk of directing, backed by an impressive skill set in a digital world where anything was possible. “I’ve always been a very visual person and think there is so much meaning and emotion you can communicate through a visual story, even with video games and VFX, the cinematic fundamentals tend to be similar,” he says. “Staying curious and open to new ideas is a big part of my process”.
Staying curious is exactly what led Eddie down the path to The Vandal, which took over a year and a half to complete. “The film is about a man’s tormented search for peace after a traumatic loss and the destructive awakening of his creativity that results,” Eddie tells us, leaving the rest up to the viewer’s interpretation. From a craft standpoint, Eddie and the team behind the film have used the term “meta-scope” to describe “the intensively layered process” used to combine stop motion animation and live action sequences, “which was needed to achieve the film’s final effect,” he says. For Eddie, “meta-scope” is not necessarily confined to stop motion or live action. “The main way to define it is the closer you get to an object the more real it becomes,” he explains. “The wider view is far less detailed, and this is how most people view the world: the macro and the micro”.
The project started around five years ago, when Eddie wrote a script based on his interest in lobotomies, and the subsequent study of them. “It gravitated to how that process could positively or negatively affect creativity, which then turned into a story about creation and destruction,” says Eddie. When Eddie realised the majority of the action took place in an art museum, preferably the Louvre in Paris, he realised his script wasn’t possible as a live-action piece. “To get access to a high end museum like the Louvre was pretty much impossible for our budget, so I got the idea to build the sets as miniatures, which is how we created and started the “meta-scope” technique,” he explains. “Limitations in this case involved channelling it into a more innovative creative solution”. Working together with cinematographer Danny Hiele, and Jason Walker, the film’s puppets were brought to life by comping in the eyes of the actors. “It was also great to collaborate with new artists in the stop motion including the teams at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and Starburns,” Eddie adds. “Misha Klein was my lead animator, who is amazing and helped so much the whole way through”.
“I think what got everybody excited was the opportunity to do something different,” Eddie says on the unique nature of the film’s animation and live-action infusion. “Not just a paying gig but something that will allow each member of the team to creatively flourish and make the project their own”. Eddie in particular found the differences between live action and animation helpful in allowing him to look at the film in different perspectives. “Live action allows me to be more spontaneous with my decisions, whereas in animation you really have to be more precise and plan out things pretty concretely beforehand or it will cost a lot of extra time and effort,” the director tells us. Adeptness in both certainly shines through the piece, which feels like a genuine artistic labour-of-love. “We are really pushing to make a full length feature out of the same story, so that’s what’s most motivating at the moment,” Eddie says. “I ultimately would love to explore more of the world and characters, and furthering the meta-scoping technique”.
GalleryEddie Alcazar: The Vandal (Copyright © Eddie Alcazar, 2021)
Eddie Alcazar: The Vandal (Copyright © Eddie Alcazar, 2021)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.