Interview with Julien Regnard, director of Night Watch
Saturday 29 January 2022, by ,
A couple rushes out of a glamorous party. On their way home, an argument leads to a brutal car accident. When George regains consciousness, Christina has disappeared. He will then experience a real descent into hell.
Where did you get the idea for the couple in the film?
The story in the film is based largely on my personal life. It’s coated over by the animation, the genre, the film’s atmosphere, all that… But the story is still pretty autobiographical.
How would you describe your animation style?
Reactionary? No, the style of the film is pretty sober, I think, with realistic scenery and minimalist animation for the characters. Black and white was a must from the beginning of the project due to the subject and atmosphere. There’s a mix of 2D and 3D, but for me the most important thing was to maximize the tools I had available according to the staging while trying not to get overwhelmed by the myriad available effects.
What types of topics and genres (and formats other than animation) appeal to you as a filmmaker?
I admit I’m not a big fan of animation… No, I’m kidding, there are some incredible things, but they’re rare, there are so many technical constraints in creating the material that it’s very hard to make a good animated film. As for topics, that’s a very broad question. If I rewatch my earlier films, I think I have an affinity for couples in cars, roads lost in the immensity of the landscape, a fascination with time and the way it’s treated in films.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
If we stick with animation, I’d say Michael Dudok de Wit’s Father and Daughter. I saw the film when I was a teenager and I was totally blown away. If I can name another, I’d say When the Day breaks by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby.
What’s your definition of a good film?
The story! It’s very hard to write a good story, everything starts with that and the whole emotional value of the film comes from the story. Even if the images are ugly, the sound is sloppy, the special effects absurd, the film will generate emotion in the viewer if the story is well written, original, well told, well paced and captivating, if the characters are true and endearing. It’s the film’s matrix, everything stems from that and it’s pointless setting out to make a film before you’ve got a good story. It’s what makes us go to the movies, we want to see people like ourselves, with problems like ours, and we want to see how they manage to solve them, or not…