THE DARK FROG EXPERIMENT, 7min., USA
Directed by Gabriel Caro
A woman's nightmare is turned reality when she is kidnapped by a mad scientist who plans to add her to his collection of monsters.
I like the idea of using traditional animation as a tool for horror. You never see a lot of horror films in that medium. Which is a shame because it is perfect for it. Western 2D Animation has so much potential for mature storytelling, we just need to push for it more.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I didn't see a lot of 2D horror films out there, which is a shame because animation is in many ways a perfect platform for horror films. I wanted to try my hand at it because I liked the idea of telling mature and dark stories through the medium of animation, and hopefully that would translate into darker more mature stories being mainstream in western animation later on.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It took me a year and 10 months to finish the film, so just around 2 years. Most of that time was spent brainstorming the beats in the story and the way it progressed. I knew right off the bat that I wanted it to be about a mad scientist, and that he'd turn someone into a monster using frogs. I had no idea how I'd incorporate it later on, as the drafts changed so many times.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Dark fantasy, and I don't mean in the fairy tale sense. The more fantastical elements of the film are the monsters all caged up in this gigantic laboratory itself. And what makes it dark is the sheer horror of the situation our protagonist finds herself in. These aren't just fantasy creatures the doctor finds in the wild, they were once humans. So maybe "body horror" would be a more apt description, but it doesn't quite capture how fantastical the creatures in the film are. Not like how "dark fantasy" would, at least in my opinion.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
My own discipline. There were deadlines I made for myself, and much of the time I found myself not finishing until right at the end of each deadline. This put a lot of stress on me, but also taught me a valuable lesson I'm still learning. And that's that you must keep consistently working each day on your film to meet deadlines, and that comes with discipline, or chipping away at work every day and not just mostly at the last minute.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I loved them. I'm glad they all found some aspect of the film they enjoyed, whether it was the color or the character designs or my soundtrack.
My favorite interpretation I heard was how a women said the protagonist, even when she changes, doesn't give up fighting, because it wasn't just fighting for her freedom, but for her own body as well.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
From an early age! When I was six or 7, my father got me into a lot of stuff. I sang, danced, made comic books and small home-made movies with my toys. Drawing was always a constant in my life, that and video games. At a certain point my father began saying, "You know, Gabe, someday you could make things like this!" So he planted that seed in me to make films at an early age. And from then on, I wanted to be in movies. The decision to pursue it via 2D animation came from my love of cartoons as a child.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I think the one that immediately comes to mind would have to be Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! It's a very mysterious film about the dangerous snake monster that lives beneath Hogwarts. The moment that sticks vividly with me from that movie was when Harry finds the basilisks lair. Since it's blind, the snake has to rely on its sense of smell and hearing, which made it very terrifying when it chases and corners Harry in a large sewer duct, and the snake if right up in Harry's face as he tries to stay as still as possible. It's a very tense scene and one that I remember watching many times as a kid.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Q&a's with the filmmakers, in my experience, have been a very fun thing to do, so maybe something like that could be implemented.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It's been good so far, I like that you can essentially use it the same way you'd use IMDb to set up a profile showing who you are. I'm hoping to use it more.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Spaghetti and meatballs! My father has a very special recipe he makes for it! He taught it to me, and ever since it's been my favorite thing to cook!
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Yes, I definitely want to work on a new short film. In fact, that's what I'm planning on next. I'm also working on a couple of other stories I've been wanting to tell for a long time now. So stay tuned for all of that. :)