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Globetrotters - Elka Kerkhofs

12 juli 2007
The ‘Globetrotters’ column will profile on a regular basis Flemish animation professionals working abroad. The first to receive a portrait is Elka Kerkhofs.
CURRENT LOCATION Darwin and Melbourne, AustraliaAGE 35EDUCATION Media & Design, KHLIM, Genk, Belgium;Music & Sound, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia; Film & TV School, Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Melbourne, AustraliaSHORT ANIMATED FILMS Mobile Home, Filled With Water, Into the Depth of the GroovePREFERRED ANIMATION TECHNIQUE a combination of different techniques: 'I never seem to be satisfied with only one discipline, combining techniques just allows you to be more original, to express more precisely what you want to convey. As a spectator, I prefer to watch 2D hand drawn animation.'FIRST ANIMATION MEMORY La LineaSOURCES OF INSPIRATION Jan Fabre, Wim Vandekeybus and the Australian cartoonist/writer/philosopher Michael LeunigFAVOURITE ANIMATION FILM The Triplets of Belleville because of the very creative storytelling without dialog! Last February, Elka Kerkhofs won the production award for her animation short Filled With Water at the My Queer Career Competition in the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival. Since then, the film has been doing very well. Filled With Water has been selected at the two biggest US gay and lesbian film festivals; NewFest GLBT Film Festival in New York and the San Francisco International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. But also mainstream festivals start to show interest in Kerkhofs' movie about finding and losing love. You have a degree in photography from KHLIM in Genk, Belgium. How did you end up in animation?That 's a long story. In Belgium I grew up with comic books and I attended drawing school as a kid. At that time, I was not very confident in my drawing so I ended up in a rather technical training to become a photographer. However, in the back of my mind I always wanted to work in animation. Through apprenticeships later on, I started working in theatre and dance. I made visuals for plays and even an experimental dance movie. In animation, I was self taught at first but later on decided to attend a one-year course . But in a way, I still see photography as a starting point for a movie... although I am thinking more and more as an animator nowadays. For Filled With Water, you made drawings based on photographs for a very specific reason...In the film, the main character walks into a TV set and I wanted to shoot that part in live action. To avoid a clash between these images and the drawn part, I decided not to use my own drawing style. It had to come together. All the rotoscoping was done in Toon Boom software. Except for the backgrounds. These were drawn on paper, hand coloured with watercolour paint and scanned in, the entire movie was drawn with a mouse, directly into the computer. It allowed me to be very environment friendly and to use only a minimum of drawing paper. Filled With Water recently received an Award at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Were you surprised with this award?Yes, I did not expect it at all. Although I really worked very hard on it Filled With Water is a very personal story. I put a lot of emotions in it which makes it of course harder to be objective. I made this film during a one-year animation course at VCA in Melbourne which was extremely intensive. After winning this award, Filled With Water started to get selected for different festivals and you got some support from the Australian government. Yes, and Australia is a very good country in this respect : when your film gets selected for high profile foreign film festivals, you can apply for funding to attend these festivals. With the help of local and federal film funds, I was able to go to New York and to Annecy, to promote this film and to present my next project, Golden Woman.What is Golden Woman about and in what stage is it in?Golden Woman looks at how white women constantly reflect on their own body shape, and how aboriginal women believe it's wrong to do... It's about a white woman's journey to accept her body. I have been working on this film with Mary Anne Butler, a writer from Darwin, where I lived for eight years before moving part time to Melbourne (living now between Darwin and Melbourne). We received funding from the Northern Territory Film Office. In the next months, I will be working on storyboards, character design and the animatic. In the next stage, the project will be submitted to the Australian Film Council, which can spend up to Aus$80,000 (€50,000) for a production. We hope to finish the movie by late 2008.What other dreams and aspirations do you have?I have a lot of stories inside my head that I would like to see to come to life. A 25-minute animation film for instance, and hopefully one day also a feature-length film, perhaps in live action. Still, I am never more happy than when I’m drawing: just me and a piece of paper...Will you continue to work in Australia?The ideal situation would be to spend eight months in Australia and four months in Belgium, but that is not realistic. But I would like to set up a co-production in