Tired of being a banal architectural ornament, a sculpture runs away from the Louvre to confront real life on the streets of Paris.
“The Marvellous Misadventures of the Stone Lady is loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Fir Tree”, penned in 1845. HCA’s story is about a naïve pine tree that wishes it would be cut down and taken from the forest and turned into a Christmas tree. As soon as wish becomes reality, things get pretty dark for the little fir. Likewise, in The Marvellous Misadventures of the Stone Lady, a naïve sculpture wishes she were more than a banal decorative ornament. One night she runs away from the Louvre, out onto the streets of Paris, to confront life and become something more meaningful. Like the young fir, the young sculpture finds out that reality isn’t as rosy as she had hoped.
I wanted to make a film that was about art and its relationship to politics. The film is a metaphor for art that wants to escape from the institutional restraints of the museum, and to become politically engaged in the ‘real world’.
A few of my films deal with politics. My most recent screenplays often focus on a naïve main character, lost in the midst of a chaotic contemporary crisis, or complex political context, such as Coughman in Artificial Humors, the Predator drone in Ennui Ennui, or the title character in Diamantino. The beauty of Hans Christian Andersen’s work often lies in the naiveté of its main characters, and this is something I really fell in love with when reading his work, and inspired me to write Artificial Humors, Diamantino and The Marvellous Misadventures of the Stone Lady.
I have always loved animation, from early Fleischer brothers’ rotoscoping experiments, to early Disney Mickey Mouse cartoons (which Eisenstein famously dubbed “America’s greatest invention”) and more recently Pixar films such as Ratatouille, Inside-Out, etc. I think some of today’s most sophisticated and surprising mise-en-scéne, camerawork, aesthetics and storytelling come in the form of animation, especially in Pixar’s work, or films like Kung-Fu Panda or The Lego Movie, all the while being stories with a lot of heart. Films such as Ratatouille were a big inspiration on The Marvellous Misadventures of the Stone Lady.
For the past few years I have been making films that use a lot of special effects, sometimes homemade by me, but more and more often by the wonderful Lisbon-based CGI VFX company Irma Lucia.
The Marvellous Misadventures of the Stone Lady was a huge next step for me, in terms of stepping up the ambition of the animation and the logistics of the production (the film is shot at the Louvre), and I am really happy with the way it came out.
For the production we used a low-fi version of motion capture suits, where an actress was wearing a suit with tracking markers. We shot her acting out all of the scenes, and then we repeated the shots with no actors, to get a clean plate. Later the team at Irma Lucia would track her movement and use it as a reference for the animation of the sculpture.
MoCap is a technique first used by Max Fleischer in 1915 for the the dance in Minnie the Moocher, and then developed by Disney in the original Cinderella, and today is widely used in action or fantasy films like Planet of the Apes, Avatar, and tons of video games, etc. I’m really passionate about the whole process from concept to modeling to animation and compositing, and it was really exciting to see these characters come to life.
I’m currently preparing two animation feature films. One, like The Marvellous Misadventures of the Stone Lady is a mix of ‘real world’ on-set filming, with CGI principal characters, and another is full CGI.”