Movie: Being A Dog
Director: Felix Swahn
Felix Swahn was born in Karlskrona 1993. He studied experimental film and animation at AnimationsAkademien 2014-2016. He studied comics at Skarpnäck Folkhögskola 2016-2017. His illustrations and texts are published in magazines such as: 8-sidor, Intra, Ögonblick, Special Pedagogik. He has had 3 personal exhibitions and he has illustrated different books, poetry, novels and children books. 2018-2020 He worked as an animator for two Architecture offices doing animation film for project presentations. Felix has studied Advanced 2D-animation at CG-Spectrum. Felix was born with Autism, he started to talk when he was five but he started to draw when he was two years old. He has many stories he wants to tell the world that needs to be told.
1.Hello Felix! Welcome to the SIFF! It is so nice to have you here! So tell us how you started to draw?
I used to watch a lot of cartoons when I was a child, and I was incredibly fascinated by the moving images combined with storytelling and music. I wished that I could do the same, so I started to draw and when I drew pictures, I realized that people understood me which was nice as I didn´t have a verbal language until an age of five. It started there.
2.How would you assess the position of drawing in your life?
It’s my passion, the best communication skill there is. Drawing is my mother language. Drawing for me is the best way to express my feelings and my stories I had in my head for a very long time.
3.How did your journey begin as a filmmaker?
I drew my own comic books that I saw as films inside my head. I wanted to share them with the people around me. Later when I went at last year of high school I created a student cut-out animation project called ”Wondergarden” 2013. That was my first moving pictures experience.
I spent 2 years at ”AnimationsAkademien” a college where I learned how to find my own style in animation and experimental film and directed a short animation film based on my grandma`s funeral called ”The Odd Funeral” and I went at Advanced 2D-Animation Course at ”CG-Spectrum” an Australian school.
I have worked as a consultant for different Architecture Offices where I was doing animation film for project presentations.
4.What inspired you to become a 2D animator?
I grew up watching 2D animations and I find it more charming than 3D. It loses creativity when trying to do everything super realistic. I think it is better to make 2D better than making everything into 3D. I think there is possibilities to mix 2D and 3D together and still make it work for animated movies.
5.Felix, out of all the things, why did you pick up CG Spectrum to pursue as a student?
Because I liked their professional attitude and high end education. So I saw CG-Spectrum as a great opportunity for me to move forward in order to achieve my goals to work with what I want.
6.Felix, what inspired you to come up with the storyline of Being a Dog?
I wanted to create a personal story about how it is to be different from my perspective, how it is to be a human being from my point of view and that alienation can be overcome. I also wanted to say that because I have an autism diagnosis it does not mean that I’m more different than others. I still have feelings and I have dreams just like everybody else. Many do not think it is so but I want to show them that it’s true that autistic people are not so much more different than others as they think.
7.The film revolves around the idea of love and loneliness. How would you define love?
Most people think that love is all about romance, just boyfriend and girlfriend relationship but it’s not just that. Love is that you have a great passion for things you want to do in your life. Love is something that helps you to live a life that can be meaningful and makes it fun to live. Love is a relationship you can share also with friends and family. Love for me is something that I spend time on things that I love the most. That is the definition of love.
8.We meet Tim who longs for love. How did you come up with this character?
I have felt different than others for too long and I was very sad that my Autism diagnosis limited me from living a social school- and work life. For me it felt like it was impossible to live a life as I wanted and felt like everything around me was in grayscale.
I also wanted to share the love with someone, and it felt like I was searching for an impossible love. So if you wonder what the idea of Tim breaking up with Ginger as a friend really comes from, you got the answer.
I tried different versions of this character a ghost, robot and a dog. Then I realized a dog character was a perfect choice for this character. A French Bulldog with jeans and a wool sweater. I found a lot of personality characteristics in French bulldogs, both joy and sadness which is one hilarious combination. He was fun to draw.
There I saw an opportunity to learn about this character and see what I can do with him.
9.The film shows that you have a very refined visual style. Would you like to share what influenced you to create this noir brilliance?
Well I was influenced by Frank Miller’s” Sin City” and Alan Moore’s Batman comic book ”The Killing Joke”. I was also influenced by Tim Burton’s movies I grew up with when it comes to create this noir brilliance.
Every time I felt I lived the life as I wanted it to be or I met someone that I liked very much, I saw colors all around me. Everytime I felt more different than others I saw grayscale all around me.
10.Felix, we find Tim to be transformed into a French bulldog! Is there a specific reason why you chose this breed?
Everyone says that the dog is the human beings best friend but I want people to think that the autistic person is the human beings best friend instead of seeing it as a problem.
With the animal transformation I got the inspiration from One Piece, anime and manga created by Eeichiro Oda. Where some characters transform from human beings to animals, which I find it very awesome.
11.If you could pick any other breed of dogs, what would you want Tim to be?
I wanted a schnauzer when I was a teenager badly, so I think I would have liked to see Tim being a schnauzer as well.
Indian breed of dogs like Sighthound and Hardy Booch that I think is very cute would be very fitting for a character like Tim as well.
12.Felix, how personal has this project been for you?
This project is very personal for me. This movie has been like a great cure bandage for me. I used to have a lot of suicidal thoughts before I did this film. I had these thoughts because I was extremely sad for having an Autism diagnosis that limited me from living a social life with friends and a girlfriend as I always wanted. But after I finished this project, it helped heal a lot of my sadness and I learned a lot from it. I am very thankful to this project and to everyone who helped me with it.
13.As an animator, how differently do you see this world?
That is a very good question! I think I´m always looking for animation sequences while walking around in the city. Through my eyes I see the world as a movie and as watching huge painting in the same time. Everything can be an animated object coming to life.
14.No discussion of animation ever stops without the mention of anime. Would you like to share some of your favorites with us?
My favourite is One Piece. I got a lot of inspiration from it when I did this film.
I also like other Anime and Manga stuff such as Dragon Ball Z, One Punch Man and My Hero Achademia.
Anime movies I love is ”My Neighbour Totoro” directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time!
15.As a storyteller, what kind of stories do you want to tell your audience?
I want to tell all different kinds of stories that touch other people´s hearts.
Mostly I want to do stories that has never been told and needs to be told.
I want to tell stories about how it is to be more different than others in order to help the audience to treat different people with the respect they deserve. I want to tell stories about no matter how tough things can be or how painful life is, there is still great hope that the life can get better later on.
My dream is also to do superhero movies as well, which I have not yet accomplish but I see it as a possibility for me to achieve.
16.It was great catching up with you Felix! Would you like to share how you enjoyed working with the SIFF?
I enjoy working with the SIFF. I want to showcase both of my stuff and want myself to be seen in more places so more people can recognize me and learn about my work. Personally I see this as a great opportunity for me so I want to thank you very much for this chat.
Thank you! It was a great chat!