What were the most challenging scenes to animate in the Oscar-Nominated shorts? I posed this to all five directors: Lauren MacMullan ("Get A Horse!"), Daniel Sousa ("Feral"), Shuhei Morita ("Possessions"), Laurent Witz ("Mr. Hublot"), and Max Lang ("Room on the Broom").
In "Feral," the striking story of a wild child trying to re-integrate into civilization, the opening was the most challenging and most important for Sousa. "In it, a rustic windmill emerges from the darkness and we gradually realize that there's a naked child inside. The image of the windmill comes up from time to time throughout the film, and I never really explain its significance. It's one of those motifs that are impossible to write about in a written treatment or a script, because they are a bit surreal and hard to justify. But in the context of watching the film and being immersed in the emotion of the moment, it makes perfect sense.
"So initially I had a lot of second thoughts about putting it in at all. The real reason why it is there is because of a memory that has been with me since I was a child. I grew up just outside of Lisbon, Portugal, in a somewhat urban environment. But whenever I wanted to be alone or get away from responsibilities I would run to the edge of the nearby woods. There was an abandoned windmill standing at the top of a hill that demarcated the edge of civilization, and it started to symbolize a kind of passageway into another realm, in which time behaved differently and the same rules did not apply. It was a place to hide, like a womb.
"So when it re-emerged in the film, I think it took on a motherly quality at the beginning, and at times it was almost like a life-giving deity. But it was also a manifestation of the boy's state of mind, so it could be peaceful at times, and angry and destructive as well. Eventually, it became one of the most important elements of the film."
Read the rest of this article over at Animation Scoop.