Alice in Wonderland
Annecy 2020: Careful
Careful is an inventive and intriguing song, illustrated by an equally inventive and intriguing film. The work, directed by Alice Saey, is selected for Annecy Commissioned Films in Competition.
At the beginning of the Careful music video, made for Dutch performer Jo Goes Hunting, we find ourselves in a strange and disorientating place. It might be a planet on which volcanos erupt to reveal mouths that sing how ‘you're so careful'. Or we may be seeing see pores opening up on the magnified surface of the human skin. Either way, the song remains the same.
The scene changes to fruit berries stripped of their flesh to reveal their geometric skeletons. Then we see armies of tiny figures cleaning, washing and ordering their environment, combing a piece of fabric (or maybe they are tending to strands of human hair).
A discordant note sounds and the beings, now encased within their own micro-spheres, begin to hold their heads and tear at their faces. One has illuminated ping pong balls for eyes while others cast their far gaze through mimed binoculars.
The 4-minute work, which is both visually engaging and a little mind-boggling, was commissioned by Jo Goes Hunting after he came across Saey's work. (In 2018 Saey received the Jury Award for a Commissioned Film at Annecy for her previous music video Happy for Mark Lotterman, also a Dutch musician). When Jo played her some of his new songs, she was particularly "triggered" by Careful.
"Usually he does quite poppy songs with a classical structure but with original textures, but this song really stood out for me because it is weird and it has an odd structure and quite abstract lyrics, and it really builds upon a repetition that creates a kind of hypnosis," says Saey.
"It is a different way of entering a song than the classic verse and chorus, and I thought it was pretty cinematic compared to his other work, so I thought it could be a nice playground for these images. He uses this word ‘careful' that has several meanings, and its repetition can actually play with those meanings and develop a nice sense of visual ambiguity. I was stimulated by that."
She adds of the vista she created for the film: "It was a magical world where everything, all scales, are possible... It was an exercise of imagination for myself. I sketched a lot. I drew a lot of scenes of little mechanisms being interactive with their environment... pure and magical."
The film is a French/Dutch collaboration between Miyu Productions and De Nieuwe Oost. Saey herself is French but living half the time in Rotterdam, where she shares an animation studio with Nienke Deutz who was hired to help animate Careful along with Daan Faudet and Wiep Teeuwisse. Colleagues Nienke and Wiep have also won awards at Annecy. Nienke won the Crystal Prize for Best Short Film in 2018 for Bloeistraat 11 (Belgium/Netherlands). Wiep won the Annecy Cristal for a Graduation Film (2016) for Depart at 22.
Saey's new film Flatastic, a French/Dutch production, will be presented at Annecy's associated MIFA market. Once again Miyu is the French partner while Keplerfilm is the Dutch partner. Supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, the new work will go into production in October 2020.
Prior to Careful, Saey was a solo animator, but was always eager to be part of a collective effort. "When you don't come from animation school, it is pretty hard to get funding to actually build a team, so all my first projects were done alone. This was the first project that I could get funded to actually get help. It was very enjoyable not to have to do every single part of the process myself."