In conversation with French animator and illustrator Loup Blaster

Late Night Work Club is a loose, rotating collective of indie animators. That is, animators who do independent, non-commercial work.

An excuse to bring a whole bunch of animators together to “make something great”, LNWC is credited with nurturing some of the best, most personal, experimental and relevant animation happening right now.

Making it’s Midlands debut at Flatpack Film Festival earlier this month, Strangers is their brand new anthology of short films. Featuring new work from some of the finest animators making their own stuff today: Alex Grigg, Loup Blaster, Caleb Wood, Sean Buckelew,  Jeannette Bonds, Nicolas Menard, and Kirsten Lepore.

We caught up with French animator Loup Blaster following her appearance on the festival circuit to find out more about her contribution and experiences of making independent film.

Can you tell us a little about your background and your first steps into animation?

I’ve studied traditional 2D animation two years in North of France, drawing on paper and digital animation. Then 1 year in Volda University in Norway, where the school was open 7/7 and 24/24 , with stop motion workshops, light tables, cameras, computer in a free access. There I’ve learned autonomy and I’ve learned to speak English. Stepping in the international animation community online was really important and it opened possibilities.

I started my Vjing project as I was obsessed to experiment with music, I compose myself but I’ve always been surrounded by music and musicians. When I came back to France, I decided to stop school as I saw an opportunity to do something that is not so common in the animation world.

So I directed music videos as an independent so I could sample and use my production freely. I was always, and I’m still, in search for independence. Now I travel often with my LNWC short film or with my VJing projects. I have less time to create but I’m learning a lot and it gives me opportunities to make this project wider. 

Loup comes from the shortcut for Louise, but it means wolf. My friends and family always called me like this and it felt quite nice. I find wolves fascinating.

Loup Blaster

Loup is a very distinctive name. Where did it come from?

Loup comes from the shortcut for Louise, but it means wolf. My friends and family always called me like this and it felt quite nice. I find wolves fascinating. Blaster, we took that name when I was in art school at age 17 with our group of friends. I discovered later what blast means. But Loup Blaster works well I think, I often have comments. Also I like that it doesn’t sound specially gendered, people are sometimes surprised to discover I’m a female director. And also I find it very funny that people pronounce it “Loop Blaster”, which make sense for a VJ.

Describe your visual style – where do you get your ideas from? Are your characters related to people you know or pure imagination?

I think I have a various range of styles. It’s always so hard to answer this questions. Inspiration is everywhere… but in my experiences, in books, in exhibitions, in fashion, in travels, in architecture.

The characters in my films are directly inspired from people yes. I never do model sheets and I improvise a lot. So I let my mind and my hand to draw freely and discover too who is the character. I don’t mind if the character don’t look same from one to another shot. He can have different identities, it can be several people. It doesn’t matter but it makes sense in the whole.

I let my mind and my hand to draw freely and discover too who is the character. I don’t mind if the character don’t look same from one to another shot. He can have different identities, it can be several people. It doesn’t matter but it makes sense in the whole.

Loup Blaster
Storyboard sequence from short film 'Strangers'

Storyboard sequence from short film ‘Strangers’

Storyboard sequence from short film 'Strangers'

Storyboard sequence from short film ‘Strangers’

Illustrators often collect ephemera – sketchbooks, drawings, objects, what’s your work space like?

I have a lot of sketchbooks, photographies, a lot of little objects. I keep every flyers and booklet, press articles. I also keep every drawings, sketches and animation on paper. You never know what they will become but they feel precious. I collect all and sort them in my bedroom. It’s like my heart. I’ve also started to paint a mural, a tree above my bed.

But in my office, it’s tidy. In a large collective workspace, such a beautiful old building in Calais! It’s actually where I was having art workshops when I was a child. From 5 to 15 I was coming here every week. Now it was turned into a “Social and solidarity economy center” so I had the chance to get a workspace for free, which is incredible.

Sketchbook pages

Sketchbook pages

We understand it’s been four years since the first LNWC collection was released (“Ghosts”in 2013) – how did you first hear about the collective?

I followed Ghost Stories on the internet, and I was also doing a music video independently and I had a lot of support from the guys at Late Night Work Club. A few years after that, they invited me to join for the 2nd round. The theme Strangers was just perfect as I was considering a film about the border in Calais. It was the moment to do it, and I wouldn’t have done it another way then independent and without money.

Creatives frequently try to make time to explore new ideas through experimental / personal projects alongside client work – what was it about LNWC that appealed to you?

The project gave me all the freedom and time. I grew up a lot while making it. For me, I make mostly my money on VJ shows and rarely take on commissions, if I do it’s often to animate for other director friends. I make a modest lifestyle, I live in Calais, go to work on my bike. I focus on many many different projects at same time, so I’m always juggling and experimenting. It’s sometimes difficult because things get slower and stressful, but I manage to finish a lot of different things simultaneously.

I’m pushing in every direction at same time, and with time, everything makes sense.

What was the brief for ‘Strangers’? It seems like everyone involved was encouraged to have total creative freedom – where do you start with a project like this? Can you tell us about your idea / contribution?

With Strangers, the theme was obvious for me to meet the “strangers” in Calais – the migrants. I went on the camps, with no ideas. Just with the thought to document and make a film about anything I’d find. I met incredible people, who are still friends now. I felt I had total freedom, and as it was my first film, from the start I thought “it will be whatever it will be”.

I wanted life to interact, live experiences and let my heart explore.

Loup Blaster

Sometimes you don’t need to think, I don’t write a lot. I do weird storyboards that I draw, cut, paste, re draw. It’s a constant improvisation for me. Maybe I’ll record an interesting sound, maybe I’ll meet someone extraordinary. And I did! I met incredible musicians who were living in a squat, in very difficult conditions. People were so rich, so kind, so smart… My film became a homage, I didn’t mean it. 

Social media (twitter, Instagram specifically) has played a significant role in raising the profile of LNWC, and the response to the “Strangers” has been incredible. What else have you gained from being involved in the project?

The energy it takes to make a film, especially independently is huge. And to know you have this support, to know it’s gonna have exposure, gives you a lot of motivation. I felt supported by a community.

I knew I’d have my voice out, a lot of people to watch this film. It’s independent, I don’t even care much about festivals, to not worries about how it’s going to be received.

Create and share your work! Experiment, do things you like and even build your own collective!

Loup Blaster

I’m sure there will be people reading this who would love to get involved – how can fellow animators grab the attention of LNWC?

Create and share your work! Experiment, do things you like and even build your own collective!

Finally, what do you have planned for 2017? Can you tell us about anything you’re currently working on?

I have many shows, a project of book with my illustrations, a new music video for Clap Clap that i’m starting. My own 1st music EP, maybe my own music videos ?

Also started to get involve in local politics… which takes a lot of space in my mind. I really want to make a change Calais. Into a welcoming, creative, innovative space. It’s a symbolic and centered town in Europe. Especially after Brexit… I feel there is something to do here, if my city change I think it’s the whole UK and the rest of Europe that could be affected. We will see.


Posted on May 5th, 17 by | Twitter: @inkygoodness

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