- 18 July 2022
- 3 minutes
Anna Mantzaris gained an international reputation when her short film Enough, made while she was a student at the RCA, won over 30 international awards and was screened at over 45 festivals in 2018. She told us what she has been up to since graduating and why people find her felt characters so endearing.
What led you to the MA Animation at the RCA?
I had been working in the animation industry for a few years, but mainly as an animator. I wanted to direct and have more creative control of projects. I also really wanted to have time to make my own personal projects, something that was really hard to do when you also need to make a living. So I applied to the MA Animation at the RCA – both to get to do some films on my own and grow as an artist, and also to be able to work more creatively afterwards.
I really liked RCA’s approach to filmmaking which was artistic and open. Finding your own way of making films as opposed to a classic film school, that was one of the main reasons I applied.
“I think RCA was the place where I found my voice as a filmmaker.”
How did the RCA affect your journey as a practitioner?
I think RCA was the place where I found my voice as a filmmaker, and where I became more secure in my role as a filmmaker. I was happy to go there after a few years of working first, that gave me a stronger awareness of what I wanted out of the education. I learned a lot about the creative process.
It was a very inspiring environment with really talented and diverse classmates. Being in those surroundings naturally inspires you, but also pushes you to find your own style. For me it was a lot about finding my own way of storytelling, and trusting in myself, and I think both the tutors, classmates and the overall context contributed to that.
Your graduate film ‘Enough’ won awards including European Animation Award and Vimeo Best of the Year. How did this film help your career trajectory and lead to further work?
I think this film and the success of it has been the major contributor to pushing my career to the next level. It had a really good spread online, many people saw it which generated quite a few commission requests, but also the amount of awards (it was more than thirty international awards in fact) has opened doors for me to get to make more short films and pitch bigger personal projects.
“I like the contrast of the softness and innocence, with these darker thoughts they have in their mind.”
Your work often draws on dark emotions like anger and sadness. Do you think there is something about your animated characters that provokes empathy?
I think my characters have a pretty soft look, making them feel a bit naive and vulnerable, and I think that marries quite well with telling darker or more sinister stories. I like the contrast of the softness and innocence, with these darker thoughts they have in their mind. In a sense the look allows me to push the stories further.
You’ve worked with many charities including GreenPeace and Global Women New Zealand. Why do you think your work spoke to these charity’s missions?
Yes, I really enjoyed those jobs. I think it has to do again with the style, that they are pretty soft and innocent, a bit naive almost, which makes it possible for a heavier or more serious message, without the whole film becoming too pretentious or too heavy to take in.
It also makes it possible to mix some humor in it, even though it's a serious message, and I think that makes the audience more receptive even to the serious message. It sort of helps to balance light and dark. I also think the wool and felt materials, and simplicity of the style, gives off an organic and ‘honest’ vibe, while also being a bit more commercial, but still not slick and glossy.
Where do you want to go next with your practice? What would be your dream project?
Oh I have many! I have a new short film idea that I would love to make, and I’m also developing a long format idea with my production company Passion Animation Studios in London, which would be amazing if we can get it made.