BoOzy' OS and the Cristal Gem
Cult Critic: Why did you choose animation for such a complex idea?
J.K: To begin with, I am honored to discuss my animated short BoOzy’ OS and the Cristal Gem and would like to thank you for granting me this interview. To tell the truth, this choice was self-evident in many respects. First of all, regarding themaking of the film, I came across an announcement from the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in March 2013, which offered a competition around the theme: “feet in the water, head in the movies”. As it was an animation film festival, I knew where I was stepping...“In the water”, I hear someone shouting! But if i could have done otherwise, I would still have chosen animation, because the first vision I had while reading this theme — and even before knowing from which festival it was — was that of a guy on the beach with his head in the middle of a filmstrip contemplating a parallel world on the other side of the reel. Of course it would have been possible to deal with live action footage but I believe that in this case, animation lends itself better and softens this perspective. Somehow, I find it more poetic. That said, rather than poetry I preferred to confront dream and reality in order to expose one of the models that our consumer society sells us, none other than fame: you can be a star, you have be a star. Okay. What next? If it's a goal in itself, I don't see the point, as consumerism is inherently transitory. And crushing one's fellowman to upstage him (equivalent to getting the “Cristal” in the film) doesn't seem ethical to me. Based on this thought, I decided to participate in this contest by trying my luck with an animated film whose duration could not exceed 5 minutes. Given these constraints, it was a bit like commissioned film, except that the competitors had full freedom both to develop the story and use any technique — and on that point, I must admit I really got off on it. Creatively, I had no limits, so to speak: indeed, animation makes it very easy to break the so-called “real” world locks and offers an infinity of possibilities to consider any thing, any event, any situation that one can for instance push to the extreme and even beyond. With live action, we're more limited and although I believe that with a fair amount of ingenuity everything is possible (and if you have no money, that's great news in itself: you work those brain cells), overstatement can lead to rejection by the public (unless the subject lends itself to it, such as superhero, badass-action or zombie movies). But either way, the result won't be the same. Let me explain with a concrete example: the beheadings at the end of The Cristal Gem are funny because of the overall exaggeration that gives a burlesque tone (with bowel details, sound effects and everything in between), but if it had been made with real shots, the effect would not have been the same, the film would probably have been censored and/or classified for an informed and therefore restricted audience. And to be honest, making the same film in live action would have been much more expensive and probably have had less of an impact. Or, I would have done it differently. But again, in cinema everything's doable.
Cult Critic: What inspired you to make such a layered animated film?
J.K.: Generally speaking, everything interests me and is likely to inspire me — as long as I am moved of course. I look at the sky, the sky inspires me; I see a tree, the tree inspires me. It's as simple as that. And taking it further: tomorrow, the sky won't have the same color, the tree will have fewer leaves — I will still be inspired, but my inspiration will be different. And if an event upsets me, it will be something else, even if the sky and the tree remain the same.
Then and like probably every film directors, I just pick up on other people's ideas, who have also taken on other people's ideas and so on — whether conscious of it or not. When we like something, our unconscious seizes it and translates it in different ways. I don't make anything up — I interpret, I develop and offer a vision. Thus my films aren't really my films: they belong in a way to everyone, at least to those who recognize themselves in what I do... or simply to nobody, as I believe that we don't own anything in reality, it's the things that own us — but maybe that's another topic, isn't it?
In the present case, many things came to my mind while reading the theme. Ideas flowed, but there was a serious issue: time. Indeed the deadline was short and I had to act very quickly. I can't remember exactly how I felt at the time — likely excited! — but I don't think I'm mistaken in saying that my inspirations were instinctive. I naturally turned to my childhood, since I believe it's an inexhaustible source of creativity and wonder: it is both the place of
everyone's origins and the origin of inspiration lato sensu, which I see as a kind of underground river that follows our course of life, which impacts our reactions and guides our choices. Comprehending childhood means being attentive to the unexpected emergence of far-off feelings prone to disturbing or inflecting our way of being and doing in the present. During my childhood, as it turns out, I created characters that I staged in comic books. Among them was BoOzy' OS, a prehistoric man who lived among dinosaurs — I was fascinated by these creatures and when I was 6, I wanted to become what I would call a “paleontologist designer”. At Christmas 92, my grandparents gave me the Mega Drive, thinking it was a console table — and on this misunderstanding, I became a “Segamaniac”. Thus, the background and atmosphere of The Cristal Gem were set and I could begin. From Earthworm Jim's mimicking to the characters parodying Sonic, Robotnik or even Mario, through the music and other winks, I tried to pay tribute to the video game world of the 90s (at least as I perceived it back in the day) and I went so far as to reinterpret the iconic console war that opposed Sega and Nintendo at that time with the death of Mario/Robotnik and the victory of Sonic/BoOzy' OS (so one could say that BoOzy’ OS and the Cristal Gem is a kind of uchronia).
Beyond video games, my film draws inspiration from other movies through the presence of posters parodying Disney classics (Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast), Back to the Future or Avatar. I also refer to other movies (99 Francs — which is a brilliant satire —, Cliffhanger...) and in particular to mine (whether animated or live action films). All my projects actually have something in common, whether it is characters, objects, settings or, in general, any idea or concept. So I could say that they all inspire each other. It's a kind of universe that is built little by little from its own inspiration. All this compendium of ideas and references considerably weighed down the timeline and as a result, The Cristal Gem is not crystal-clear!
Cult Critic: Does your idea stem from reality of yours or other?
J.K: Guess you're asking: does BoOzy' OS represent me? Perhaps in some aspects. I've always been told or blamed for having my head in the clouds so the link with this dreamy character (and his head in the movies) may seem obvious. Just like him, I saw myself winning an award while making the film, but in the end, my fate seems happier than his in this story, as unlike him, the movie was lucky enough to win many prizes — I just hope I don't wake up tomorrow and find it was all in my head! So that's the first difference — my head isn't in the movie (and my feet are dry as I speak to you). Then just like him again, I do bodybuilding — however please don't worry, I am much better proportioned than him and ladies, I don't wear banana briefs! So that's the second difference. But what I'm telling you right now, I must confess I didn't necessarily consider it at the time. I was (almost) alone on my island, yet I didn't take the time to ask myself the question. It may even be my subconscious that has spoken. Anyway the parallel is interesting, thanks for this question. Afterwards, I believe that dreaming of being a celeb with an amazing body and lots of fans (or lovers) and money (here represented by the “Cristal”) is something very common, at least in a consumerist society such as ours. In the same way, chasing after a dream(especially when superficial) that doesn't come true is unfortunately ordinary. As far as that goes, then, it may be the life of a certain number of people. And ultimately, the hero here ends up alone, maybe like a slew of social media users with millions of followers who actually spend their time alone in pajamas in the back of their bedroom — because the tools originally meant to bring us closer often have the opposite perverse effect. But to be honest, what I'm saying here is strictly unfounded. I am not an expert in this area and have no study to show you to illustrate my words. I'm just translating my observations, which may be biased, for what it's worth. And that ties in with what I was saying earlier so regarding it, I cannot say that it is only about my reality, or considering my reality as a jam made up of a multitude of realities — somewhere along the line. And on this point, if I made again my film today, that is to say 10 years later, the substance would probably be different: on the one hand because the world has changed and will continue to change, so my observation will be different, on the other hand because I am also changing — all this, better or worse. I wouldn't speak for anyone else, but my reality has changed anyway. Incidentally I believe that changing one's point of view is a sign of openness and evolution — at least when it is done by virtue of moral principles and not out of interest to seize such an opportunity or escape such a threat. Admit that we can be wrong. This may be the case with my film, I don't know. I still make mistakes everyday, and I'll be wrong again tomorrow.
Cult Critic : Did you try to adapt post-humanistic features to fit in the new movement of age or to simply showcase your own idea?
J.K: Well, I don't think I had that wish — or else it was unconsciously. I would rather say that it was about exposing my idea for what it was, id est a subjective interpretation of my observation of situations stopped at a given time. I was so pressed by such tight deadlines that I rushed headlong, without thinking too much. I've been instinctively pragmatic, dare I say. Yes, I believe it was instinct, more than reason, that guided me. Like an inner strength. Otherwise, I don't do things to be fashionable, I actually find something hypocritical about it. At the risk of sounding selfish (and I probably am), I would even say that I make movies that I would like to see and not to please this or that audience or belong to some movement or other — but maybe that's what I'll do tomorrow, who knows? Nevertheless, the concept of post-humanism has always interested me, with its relevant ideas even if not everything is confirmed over time, or sometimes differently, for better... or for worse. But in my opinion, the most fascinating thing is to imagine how far technology could modify human behavior or even quite simply humans. It is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for science fiction (or should I say, anticipation?) works.
Cult Critic: In the future, will you be dealing with the same idea?
J.K: Yes and no. First of all, I would like to present a more accomplished version of The Cristal Gem. Indeed and despite its relative success, I consider it to be my worst film — and also my cursed movie but I won't talk about it here —, not for the content but the form as I had to rush the drawings and animation, on the one hand for lack of time, on the other for the power deficiency of my workstation; in addition, I had deleted a few passages and characters (including one that really mattered — and still matters — to me: my late grandmother in a role she had played in another movie) and had got the storyline sped up, because I had reached a duration of 8 minutes 32 seconds, which did not allow me to enter the competition (this is perhaps the proof that I finally followed the movement!). I've already remade the sequence parodying a level of Sonic the Hedgehog and I can tell you that it's day and night. I just need time to apply the same treatment all over the movie. As for what's left, I work on other projects and explore different themes and techniques but deep down, I must admit there is always a more or less hidden criticism in my work. In my animated films, I keep combining humorous and satirical themes; but I take more time working on the colors, taking care of the drawings and refining the animation, with a distinct preference for 2D. In my live-action films, I focus on caricatured roles, emphasize the dialogues and all the audio part, and also aim for an aesthetic approach through the use of various filming and special effects techniques. Both literally and figuratively, image is very important to me. To make it short, I believe it's easier to get a message across — whether it's an idea or an emotion — when the work that carries it looks good. Let's not forget that cinema is a wonderful tool for conveying one's idea, so might as well do it in the best possible way.
Cult Critic: What difference do you want to bring forward in the film society?
J.K: As far as substance is concerned, and in line with what I was telling you earlier — hoping I haven't told you too much nonsense —, the only difference I could make would ultimately come from ideas thaT already exist and which therefore do not belong to me. Basically, I do the same things as my colleagues do, but differently — under these conditions, can we really speak of a difference? As for the form, I wouldn't claim to bring a difference either, as many people — certainly more competent than me — already excel in the film field. I'm a jack-of-all-trades and like to test and develop techniques, whether during shooting or post-production. I try my hand at anything. Overall, I attach great importance to these experimental phases and like to explore lands that I do not know — and there are many. I'm sort of an image magician as I don't try to capture reality but to offer visions which are made from all the tools available and conceivable, because I believe we don't see situations as they really are — might as well push the experiment as far as possible. Independent cinema allows us all of this, since we are not asked to complete gap-fill scripts to be sure of finding a profit. We're taking risks of course, but this allows us to get something different and to prevent the audience from having the feeling of always seeing the same thing. Anyway, if I had to express one wish, it would perhaps be to hope that the film industry as a whole remains (mind) open in order to allow everyone to freely express themselves, and to enjoy doing so — which is my case. I'm aware that reality is not that simple so to get your head in the movies... you may have to put your feet deep into the water! Again, thank you so much at Cult Critic for giving me the opportunity to talk about cinema with you and for letting me introduce a bit of my universe. And I really took pleasure in looking back on this project!