The animated film “Däwit” tells a dreamily surreal story about the life of a boy. The violence in his parents’ marriage had a major impact on him when he was still very young. But he learned to put the ghosts of his past to rest through a fateful turn of events.
In creating the story of “Däwit”, Sophie Biesenbach and David Jansen, the directors and illustrators, perfectly captured the essence of the experimental short film genre. Over the course of ten months, the artists created 11,000 hand-drawn individual pictures on the computer with painstaking detail. These were subsequently put together by the producers at Fabian&Fred to create “Däwit”. The end result was a 15-minute, classic animated film realised with the help of digital technology.
In addition to receiving the backing of renowned sponsors, David Jansen’s team was given funding by Film- and Medienstiftung NRW. Their film has even been nominated for the title of “Best Short Film” in the “Berlinale Shorts” category of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale.
What is “Däwit” about? What is the film’s core message?
Our animated film tells the story of “Däwit”, who witnessed domestic violence as a child and was raised by wolves after being abandoned by his mother. While he was growing up, he discovered similarities between himself and his father, who he thoroughly despised. It is by a fortunate coincidence and an unlikely encounter that he eventually finds peace with his father – through forgiveness.
The film is about forgiveness. Far too few people forgive. This film is all about forgiveness, and there may even be a happy ending – maybe!
Where did the idea for “Däwit” come from?
I drew my inspiration from a little Frans Masereel book that my father once gave me called “The Face of Hamburg”. I have always wanted to make an expressionist film, so it’s a wonderful German affair, because expressionist film is simply German.
The woodcut structure is a key feature of the film’s design. Why did you choose to use this technique, and how did you implement it?
To design “Däwit”, I opted for a drawing style based on the classic woodcut technique. Woodcut is characterised by the fact that the negative parts of the picture are removed from the canvas using a carving tool. The remaining part is rolled in ink and printed like a stamp on paper, so the monochrome picture created in this way is the result of what’s been left over of a surface.
When we were making “Däwit”, we chose to digitally implement the woodcut effect, by rubbing out lines or painting over them in white. That’s what creates the woodcut effect. During the digital production process, we also worked with planes, which is how we ended up creating something new. Having said that, it’s really the line that steals the show. We were very keen to digitally implement our pictures in an exact manner, which is why we worked with the Cintiq pen display from Wacom. The illustrator’s unique style can be perfectly conveyed in the picture through the pressure sensitivity of the pen used. The line width can be very delicate to start with and finish up being wide, or vice versa. This is extremely important in the style we were aiming for, where the line plays such a big part. The pressure sensitivity also allows you to work over several pictures with one line width, so you don’t have to go through the annoying process of constantly having to switch settings.
Why did you opt for a Cintiq?
As with any film project, and especially one with a “low-low budget” such as ours, we start off by asking ourselves what equipment we need and how to finance it. While I was studying from home, most of the time I worked with my own little Bamboo, and when I was at college, I used a 21” Cintiq. To implement “Däwit”, we needed two professional canvases: one for me, and another for Sophie, the second illustrator. The 24” Cintiq allows users to work directly on the display with a pressure-sensitive pen, so there’s optimum hand-eye coordination, and it’s so much closer to analogue drawing. Sophie in particular was absolutely delighted with the handling, because she had only drawn analogue up until that point in time.
What does the future hold for “Däwit”? When will we be able to see it? Do you have any idea where things are going to go from here?
We’re really excited that “Däwit” was nominated in February 2015 for the Berlinale international festival. It really is a massive honour. Of course, we hope that both the jury and the public will like the film and that this world première will help us bring the film to as wide an audience as possible. So we’re crossing our fingers that it’ll go far and are delighted that things have got off to such a great start and that we’ve been invited to the festival. All of the latest news can be found here.
During the film festival, “Däwit” will be screened under the Berlinale Shorts IV and the Berlinale Shorts Mix category at the following locations:
– Friday, 13 February, 4.00 p.m. – CinemaxX 5 (third screening & “film talk”)
– Sunday, 15 February, 5.45 p.m. – Colosseum 1 (Berlinale Shorts Mix)
David Jansen’s biography and filmography
David Jansen was born on 7 January 1981 in Wipperfürth, Oberbergischer Kreis. After finishing school, he trained to become a process mechanic for plastics and rubber technology. He then spent a year on placement in Columbia Tristar’s Script Development department, which was followed by a stint in Editing at Sony Pictures. It was during this time that he created his first few films. From 2006 to 2012, he studied Animation at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, where he was taught by Raimund Krumme and Stéphanie Beaugrand.
– Däwit (2014), animated film, 15 minutes
– The Animal That Can Lie (2012), animated film, 13 minutes
– 9.6% (2011), opening film for the Ernst Schneider Award
– The Duck (2010), animated film, 1 minute
– I Don’t Care (2010), animated film, 5 minutes
– Beelzebub’s Daydream (2009), animated film, 10 minutes
– Airwave Stories (2008), animated film, 2 minutes
– The Living Desert (2008), animated film, 2 minutes
– Work Sucks (2007), animated film, 5 minutes
– Perpetuum (2006), animated film, 2 minutes
– I’m Animal (2006), experimental film, 6 minutes
– Error / System Failure (2006), experimental film, 10 minutes