Interview with Michael Frei

As part of the Encounters Festival 20th anniversary, a series of short interviews with previous filmmakers who have screened at Encounters will be published on our website blog from now until the beginning of the festival in September.

1. The story line of your short film ‘Plug and Play’ explores the interplay of human’s on an abstract level. PNP_MichaelFrei_Filmmaker interviewHow did this idea develop ?

It is hard to tell where the idea started to develop. The idea of playing with opposing elements in form and narrative was already present in my last animated short ‘Not About Us’. With ‘PLUG & PLAY’ I tried to take it a little further: I wanted to tell a story with fewer elements while trying a few things I have never done before. Using dialogue, for example.

2.The film was drawn entirely through your index finger using the touchpad of a laptop- how did you come to use this technique ?

When I put visual ideas down on paper I usually collected them digitally by scanning them. For some time, I had no scanner to my disposal and I found myself drawing on my touchpad. And by chance I had solved a problem I struggled with. After a four-year apprenticeship as a draftsman in architecture I had difficulties not drawing straight lines. The touchpad helped me getting over that issue. 

When I started to produce PLUG & PLAY I set out to create the whole film in one bit, with one laptop and one digit. I got a bit conceptual there.      

3.How would you describe your film-making process?

I still don’t know if I like drawing. Before I start drawing a film I think about what I don’t have to draw so I only draw what is necessary. Once I am finished with thinking, I am drawing without thinking, because if I would think while drawing I wouldn’t draw much.

4.What are your future plans?

I will cross fingers.

5.Who or what are your greatest creative influences?

That is a tough question to answer. There as so many great creators out there. I like the visual simplicity of independent Japanese animation but also the smart humour of eastern European illustrations and films. I appreciate challenging works that can’t be squished into a certain genre and push the medium in new directions.

6.Any current projects that you are working on?

I am collaborating on a project that will be finished in autumn 2014…It will involve fingers.