David Vital-Durand participated in the Cross Channel Film Lab in 2013.  You can find out more about him and his project Voice of the Deep over here.  We asked him about his career so far and his experience of the Lab.

CCFL Training Online Programme 2015 is open for applications.  To find out more about this unique programme, visit this page.

Tell us about your background – what career steps have you taken en route to creating your first low budget feature film?

After studying in Paris and travelling around the world as a photographer, I started to direct short films in the mid-90s.  I had some great experiences directing music videos for artists like Sinead O’Connor, Elton John, Suede, Ryucchi Sakamoto and more.  I’d always loved surrealism and the music videos presented the perfect opportunity to experiment with special effects and augmented images.

When I started to develop feature film projects, I continued to explore ways that I might be able to experiment, keeping costs down but also using visual effects and 3D animation.  The Cross Channel Film Lab was the perfect place to investigate how to make a really visual 3D animated movie on a low budget.

What was your original vision for Voice of the Deep and how did it change during the Cross Channel Film Lab?

When I arrived, I had the idea that the movie would be seen from the point of view of a creature from the abyss.  However, I didn’t want anthropomorphic animation or a “human” speaking animal, and during the Lab, I realised that a mute creature would be a challenging choice for our main character.  So I changed the point of view to that of a young boy – a kid discovering a deep sea disaster as a result of his relationship with the animals.

VOTD animation shot

What most excites you about using VFX and animation and a low budget, and which challenges within the Lab taught you the most?

The most exciting thing for someone like me, whose background is live action, is the fact that with animation, you and the team are able to create everything.  It’s an amazing feeling – to have an image of a scene which doesn’t yet exist.  And it’s a great freedom, knowing what you need to create this at a low budget.

The Cross Channel Film Lab especially helped us with the production of a two minute animation test – which was a great gift and a huge amount of work.  This allowed us to see living images of our project “in the deep”. Most importantly, these tests were able to demonstrate that a connection between a human and a creature from the abyss can exist and engage an audience.  Practically, I learnt that some things work relatively easily – like the landscape, the light, the machines – and that the animation of the animal is much harder – but it has given me great material to work from in the future.

What advice would you give a filmmaker interested in working with visual effects and animation to being their vision to life at a low to medium budget?

First, I would tell them that they live at a fantastic time of opportunity – where you can develop special effects at a lower budget – a new and exciting development!

Then, that there isn’t one truth to how you create a scene.  This is true of both visual effects and animation – playing with simple or unknown elements can sometimes be more powerful than showing us the big obvious things.  There are chances to be more creative, and do something new. “Low is beau”.

What are the next steps for you with Voice of the Deep?

Our next step is to finalise the screenplay.  But I’m also about to shoot my first low budget feature film – and this will help us to develop and promote Voice of the Deep as my second, (slightly more expensive and ambitious!) film.


CCFL Training Online Programme 2015 is open for applications.  To find out more about this unique programme, visit this page.

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