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by Lela Scott MacNeil
May 21st, 2010

It’s a gorgeous May day, and here at Rooftop Films, we’re getting ready to bring you our evening of romantic short films: “Hopelessly Devoted.” The show will feature not only live music by Frances, a band that has drawn comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel and Beiruit, but also a selection of films that serve up the much discussed topic of love with a twist.

One of these is Oktopodi, a delightful animation about two octopi in love and on the run from the chef who wants to turn them into dinner. The film was directed by Julien Bocabeille. He spoke to us about the inspiration for Oktopodi, the collaborative nature of animation, and how he feels about eating seafood after creating such lovable but edible characters.

Rooftop Films: Give a brief description of your film for those who haven’t seen it.

Julien Bocabeille: Two octopi fight for their lives with a stubborn restaurant cook in a comical escape through the streets of a small Greek village.

RF: How did you decide on octopi as the subject matter for the film?

JB: We found some illustrations from Peter de Seve of octopi and thought that would be a great opportunity to put on screen and make lovable creatures that can be repulsive in real life. Also this hasn’t been done in animated films before and it surely was a technical challenge. Perfect for a graduation film.

RF: Do you eat seafood?

JB: I do! I love it actually, especially octopus maki at the japanese…

RF: What do you think is meaning of the relationship between the fish salesman and the octopi—is it always antagonistic, or is there hope for love?

JB: Love for good seafood I guess… It’s a love/hate relationship for sure. Love at first then hate because you have to run after your escaping breakfast!

RF: The music really adds a lot to the film. Can you tell us about it?

JB: We had a temp track at the early stage of the production, a Greek type of music that we liked very much. But we couldn’t find any free music that was nearly matching that. So I asked the father of a girlfriend of mine, Jean-Claude Vannier (composer of Serge Gainsbourg album “Melody Nelson”) to give a try and compose a little something for us. We couldn’t continue with him due to technical reason so we asked a friend studying music at UCLA, Kenny Wood, to compose it based on the temp track. It took a few back and forths as the editing was evolving but he did an amazing job and his track gives the movie an truly new dimension. Thanks Kenny!

RF: There are a lot of people listed as filmmakers. What was the collaborative process?

JB: It’s a student movie, so everybody was involved in every part of the process. From finding a story to storyboarding to the final compositing. Of course some were better at rigging or lighting or animation, so we ended up dividing tasks that way but we made sure to have meeting every week about the advances in each of these “departments” and everybody was free to give notes and comments about what the movie was becoming and the direction each of us wanted.

RF: Are you a full-time filmmaker? If not, what else are you up to?

JB: I wish I was! Right after graduation I was sent to India by Dreamworks to help them setup their new studio, train the animation team and supervise animation on “Merry Madagascar.” Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I’m working as an animator at Dreamworks. But always thinking about new ideas and stories to put on screen on my own.

RF: Describe your next project.

JB: Can’t tell you about that…

Come see Oktopodi TONIGHT at 8pm on the Lower East Side, part of “Hopelessly Devoted,” our program of romantic short films with with a twist.

Tickets and more information here.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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