Islena Neira’s newest animation Insomnia was made with a lack of sleep at front of mind. As a second year student of animation at EMCA in Angouleme, France, Islena was tasked with making two minutes of animation in just five days. Having conceptualised the idea of a moon and committed to improvising piano music for the first time, Islena learned that the competition theme was “L’Affaire Gregory".
“I was so sad,” Islena tells us. “I really did not have any idea what to do. I wanted to do a happy story, but that theme was hard. So I came home and I read everything about the theme. That didn’t help, and my computer fell from my bed and my hard disk broke. It was already so late and I was still without a new idea, but my boyfriend encouraged me to just do whatever I wanted, so I made my moon story and had fun.”
Inspired by a heady mix of French poets, comics and old manga, a Jacques Prévert’s poem “were the sun takes a walk in Paris” and Japanese experimental animators such as Manabu Himeda, Islena made a simple but charming duo-colour halftone animation featuring a big-eared child’s struggles with sleep. “I wanted to try to do animation that includes halftones, like comic books do. Fabio Viscogliosi use some of them sometimes and his compositions are impressive, so I had him in my mind and in my school’s computer wallpaper.”
With time running out, Islena used “a tiny format, a pixelated line and just two colours”. “The less animation I had to do, the better, so I used lots of still frames, and I animated with very big expositions,” the student laughs. “At the end, I had some time to do full animation, so I used it for the happiest moments of the video. I almost didn’t make research and I didn’t make storyboard either. I improvised in function of the music shot after shot, but after each shot I tried to think a lot about what was going to happen next.”
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