Screening as part of Short Cuts Canada Programme 1, Cochemare is a gorgeous blend of animation, live-action, and fantastic effects. Traveling from the Forest of Storms to the International Space Station, viewers are taken to worlds inhabited by snails, strange flying creatures, and the people who seem to live at the center of this dream world. Toronto Film Scene had a chance to speak with directors Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski about their short film, and the ideas hinted at in the title.

Describe your film in 10 words or less.

A documentary describing the mating habits of Succubi.

What inspired you to make this film?

Our sense that the short animation form was being hijacked by childish sensibilities. As an experiment we wanted to make a film for adults, by adults. The degree to which we succeeded is questionable.

What was the best thing about production? Most frustrating?

The most frustrating thing about production was the mechanics of 3D movie making, which requires you to not make just one film but three, two eyes and then the distance between them. Also, it is virtually impossible not to make a 3D movie that doesn’t make the viewer want to throw up. Also, stop motion is frustrating. Easily half the film is animated and the process is as excruciating in 2013 as it was one hundred years ago. The best thing about the production is the work our collaborator Sylvie Moreau. Her performance in the film is brave and subtle. Great artists make you work harder, and justify decisions that would have failed without their contribution. Patrick Watson’s inspired sound and music fits into that same category.

A scene from the visually stunning short "Cochemare"

A scene from the visually stunning short “Cochemare”

What’s the one thing you want people to know about your film?

That they should turn off their brains and let the movie come into their consciousness by way of the spine. This is a subterranean film, a very simple film, and not a puzzle box you need to solve.

The title, Cochemare, seems to hint at shells, snails, and nightmares. Would these ideas reflect portions of the short?

Shells, snails, and nightmares is not a bad way to describe the short. We were interested in the old idea of the Incubus, the demon lover, and how that might relate to a separation of body and mind. To illustrate this we thought of the International Space Station. An astronaut is disconnected from the earth, their body, and their senses. In such a situation we guessed that an astronaut’s dream life must be intense, as the subconscious overcompensated for a loss of human contact. Finally, we were a little bored of our dusty pickle jars and wanted to set a stop motion film in a pristine, modern environment.

Your film is screening as part of TIFF — what are you most excited about seeing or doing at this year’s festival?

Looking forward to seeing old friends, having good meals, and watching the film with our collaborators for the first time.

Cochemare screens as part of Short Cuts Canada Programme 1 at TIFF 2013. Check the TIFF website for more details.

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