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LOS ANGELES, CA – “Inside a weathered Hotel at the edge of a cliff, a lavish dinner is taking place. A brute and half-naked man operates an oversized machine that grinds the walls and anything valuable inside the room. But what comes into the machine as tangible wealth comes out at the other side as plates full of food which the man serves to a group of six anthropomorphic pigs who devour them like there is no tomorrow. “Under and among their feet, a herd of skinny black and white cats fight among themselves to grab whatever falls from the table. Inevitably, when the supply comes to an end and the room is stripped from anything valuable, what’s left is a fuse leading to a catastrophic and violent explosion. Sadly, the offspring of this profound change turns out to be not a sign of hope, but the spitting image of the parents.”

Those are the words Emmy Award-winning animator Nassos Vakalis used to describe to TNH his latest film, Dinner for Few.

For those who do not know, what exactly do an animator, storyboard artist, and animation director do? “Animation is the art of making a film through the use of drawings,” Vakalis continues. “So, instead of pictures the animation artist uses his drawings, which are either generated by hand or by a computer. Like most conventional filmmaking, animation also tries to tell a story and needs to have a script or an idea to communicate.

“The part of the production that deals with the initial visualization of the idea is called storyboarding. So, the storyboard artist takes the written idea, usually in a form of a script, and designs the film, shot after shot in a method that resembles a lot the creation of comic book panels. This ensures the flow of the story as well as the cinematography. The animation director, on the other hand, is the one who supervises the process, gives notes and makes sure everything has a unified look and the film works. In many cases, he also contributes with his own artwork defining the style of the film visually and thematically.” Vakalis does all three.

ANIMATED MIKES

The widely popular sports show on ESPN Mike & Mike, featuring Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, which has aired since 1998 and has been simulcast on television, in 2005 was turned into a cartoon – Off Mikes – for which Vakalis served as main preproduction and storyboard artist. He won the Emmy the following year.

“The show was nominated for an EMMY award as a pioneer show for alternative platforms,” he explains.

CRISIS-INSPIRED

Dinner for Few was inspired by the crisis affecting Greece, and to a greater extent, other South European countries, like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Vakalis himself was born and raised in Athens, and currently lives in Los Angeles with his children and wife, Katerina Stergiopoulou, with whom he produced and funded the film. The music was composed by Kostas Christides.

The film is described in the media as a “non-traditional CG animated film.” What is that, exactly? “Animation uses either hand drawings or computer generated drawings,” he begins. Some other forms of animation might also use puppets or plasteline, but the majority of the work today is done with computer generated images. This is what CG stands for. Computer Generated. Having said that I must point out that the computer is not creating the work on its own but it is a tool for the artist to create his own work much like the early days the pencil was a tool of the draftsman.”

So, what makes Dinner for Few nontraditional? “From the dark theme of the story, the character designs, the stylistic approach of the colors and shapes, to the live symphonic music, written by Kostas Christides, it is as far as it gets from what the animation industry produces today. Thematically, the film is sociopolitical metaphor reminiscent of the John Halas book The Animal Farm, thus depicting an allegory of the human sociopolitical existence in a hierarchically structured society through history and time.”

MORE AWARDS

That Dinner for Few “has no dialog which was both an artistic and financial decision,” Vakalis explains. “Applying dialog in the animation process requires the recording of the actor’s performances ahead of all animation works and then the painstaking process of adjusting the animation and the mouth shapes of the characters to those exact performances. This costs time and money, and in the case where you can visually say everything you want with images, it is an extra element that serves very little purpose. This absence of dialog gave Christides a unique opportunity and freedom to lead the story with his music, expressing and hinting on all the emotions that visually parade in front of the audience. Kostas wrote his score which he later also co-orchestrated with his team having in his mind a 70 musicians live symphonic orchestra. The music was recorded by the Bratislava Studio Orchestra in Slovakia and the sound design and mixing was done by Kostas Fylaktidis and Ioannis Giannakopoulos in Athens Greece. This original music score won Best Music Award in Drama Short Film Festival last September. But that is not the only award the film has won. “Since September, the film has been officially selected in more than 40 festivals around the word and received 15 International and Greek awards. Among them the prestigious Audience Award at CurtaCinema in Brazil, the Best Short Animation from ReAnimania in Armenia, Best short Animation for Film without dialogues at Enmut in Spain and a Special Mention at the SITGES festival in Spain. Dinner For Few will also screen in the Irvine International film Festival beginning 2015 as well as at the Nuart Cinema in Los Angeles for the Academy Award qualification.

2015 AND BEYOND

What is next for Vakalis? “Right now I’m trying to support my film at the various festivals,” he says. “We will be going to France to attend the Clermont Ferrand short film festival, which is the biggest short film festival in the world. The film was accepted there last month and this has opened a few doors for us. We have found a sales representative and we are working on some television deals as well as other options of distribution. Besides that, it is time for me to think of what is next in the field of producing and directing short animated films and other animation contend.

“I hope the success of Dinner For Few will bring more interest to my work and this will eventually become the force behind my next production. Before that, though, I need to find the right story to tell, and that is not easy.

More information can be found on dinnerforfew.com or Facebook.com/DinnerForFew.

 

PHOTO:

 

http://photo.ekirikas.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Dinner-for-Few.png

 

Dinner for Few:  Dinner For Few, a 2014 animated film by Emmy Award-winner Nassos Vakalis, has already received widespread critical acclaim, with more good things likely in store in 2015.

 

Vakalis Wins

Awards Using
State-of-the-

Art Animation

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – “Inside a weathered Hotel at the edge of a cliff, a lavish dinner is taking place. A brute and half-naked man operates an oversized machine that grinds the walls and anything valuable inside the room. But what comes into the machine as tangible wealth comes out at the other side as plates full of food which the man serves to a group of six anthropomorphic pigs who devour them like there is no tomorrow. “Under and among their feet, a herd of skinny black and white cats fight among themselves to grab whatever falls from the table. Inevitably, when the supply comes to an end and the room is stripped from anything valuable, what’s left is a fuse leading to a catastrophic and violent explosion. Sadly, the offspring of this profound change turns out to be not a sign of hope, but the spitting image of the parents.”

Those are the words Emmy Award-winning animator Nassos Vakalis used to describe to TNH his latest film, Dinner for Few.

For those who do not know, what exactly do an animator, storyboard artist, and animation director do? “Animation is the art of making a film through the use of drawings,” Vakalis continues. “So, instead of pictures the animation artist uses his drawings, which are either generated by hand or by a computer. Like most conventional filmmaking, animation also tries to tell a story and needs to have a script or an idea to communicate.

“The part of the production that deals with the initial visualization of the idea is called storyboarding. So, the storyboard artist takes the written idea, usually in a form of a script, and designs the film, shot after shot in a method that resembles a lot the creation of comic book panels. This ensures the flow of the story as well as the cinematography. The animation director, on the other hand, is the one who supervises the process, gives notes and makes sure everything has a unified look and the film works. In many cases, he also contributes with his own artwork defining the style of the film visually and thematically.” Vakalis does all three.

ANIMATED MIKES

The widely popular sports show on ESPN Mike & Mike, featuring Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, which has aired since 1998 and has been simulcast on television, in 2005 was turned into a cartoon – Off Mikes – for which Vakalis served as main preproduction and storyboard artist. He won the Emmy the following year.

“The show was nominated for an EMMY award as a pioneer show for alternative platforms,” he explains.

CRISIS-INSPIRED

Dinner for Few was inspired by the crisis affecting Greece, and to a greater extent, other South European countries, like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Vakalis himself was born and raised in Athens, and currently lives in Los Angeles with his children and wife, Katerina Stergiopoulou, with whom he produced and funded the film. The music was composed by Kostas Christides.

The film is described in the media as a “non-traditional CG animated film.” What is that, exactly? “Animation uses either hand drawings or computer generated drawings,” he begins. Some other forms of animation might also use puppets or plasteline, but the majority of the work today is done with computer generated images. This is what CG stands for. Computer Generated. Having said that I must point out that the computer is not creating the work on its own but it is a tool for the artist to create his own work much like the early days the pencil was a tool of the draftsman.”

So, what makes Dinner for Few nontraditional? “From the dark theme of the story, the character designs, the stylistic approach of the colors and shapes, to the live symphonic music, written by Kostas Christides, it is as far as it gets from what the animation industry produces today. Thematically, the film is sociopolitical metaphor reminiscent of the John Halas book The Animal Farm, thus depicting an allegory of the human sociopolitical existence in a hierarchically structured society through history and time.”

MORE AWARDS

That Dinner for Few “has no dialog which was both an artistic and financial decision,” Vakalis explains. “Applying dialog in the animation process requires the recording of the actor’s performances ahead of all animation works and then the painstaking process of adjusting the animation and the mouth shapes of the characters to those exact performances. This costs time and money, and in the case where you can visually say everything you want with images, it is an extra element that serves very little purpose. This absence of dialog gave Christides a unique opportunity and freedom to lead the story with his music, expressing and hinting on all the emotions that visually parade in front of the audience. Kostas wrote his score which he later also co-orchestrated with his team having in his mind a 70 musicians live symphonic orchestra. The music was recorded by the Bratislava Studio Orchestra in Slovakia and the sound design and mixing was done by Kostas Fylaktidis and Ioannis Giannakopoulos in Athens Greece. This original music score won Best Music Award in Drama Short Film Festival last September. But that is not the only award the film has won. “Since September, the film has been officially selected in more than 40 festivals around the word and received 15 International and Greek awards. Among them the prestigious Audience Award at CurtaCinema in Brazil, the Best Short Animation from ReAnimania in Armenia, Best short Animation for Film without dialogues at Enmut in Spain and a Special Mention at the SITGES festival in Spain. Dinner For Few will also screen in the Irvine International film Festival beginning 2015 as well as at the Nuart Cinema in Los Angeles for the Academy Award qualification.

2015 AND BEYOND

What is next for Vakalis? “Right now I’m trying to support my film at the various festivals,” he says. “We will be going to France to attend the Clermont Ferrand short film festival, which is the biggest short film festival in the world. The film was accepted there last month and this has opened a few doors for us. We have found a sales representative and we are working on some television deals as well as other options of distribution. Besides that, it is time for me to think of what is next in the field of producing and directing short animated films and other animation contend.

“I hope the success of Dinner For Few will bring more interest to my work and this will eventually become the force behind my next production. Before that, though, I need to find the right story to tell, and that is not easy.

More information can be found on dinnerforfew.com or Facebook.com/DinnerForFew.

 

The post Nassos Vakalis Wins Awards Using State-of-the-Art Animation appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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