THE GREAT NO-MAN'S LAND, 6min,. Belgium
Directed by Giacomo Segers
A fantasy creature by the name of Chloro undertakes a journey across the Great No-Man's Land; a ruined fantasy world destroyed by mechanized conflict. He does this in order to return to his home and reunite with his family.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I'm a worldbuilder at heart. I love to enrich myself in the setting of a story, and I have a strong fondness for movies, games, and literature set in the wonderful realm of fantasy and science fiction. The illustrations that I make are usually things that make up the part of a bigger whole. The creatures and characters that I draw usually have a little blurb of background information that I imagine for them. I even have a few documents that I've typed down with descriptions. I also adore the proces of mapmaking, and I've sketched and have drawn out a lot of maps throughout my life.
The last couple of years, I have started working on a fantasy setting of my own; one where I mix fantasy elements with the aesthetics of the First World War. Of course, this was nothing professional or well thought out, and the chance that this would ever reach an audience or go further than just my artwork was very minimal. However, once I started my education at the Luca-school of Arts, I realised that I might be able to do something more with my setting than just drawings inside of a sketchbook. So when I started my Masters project, I already had the perfect world for it to be set in.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It took from beginning to end almost 3 years to complete. I definitely took a very long time to finish this project and a lot of factors were the cause of that. The COVID-pandemic certainly didn't help scheduling, and I'm also a very bad planner on my own. I do think that it definitely helped my project. Movies and other works of fiction take a lot of time to develop and especially to develop well. I do believe deadlines and proper scheduling are very necessary in the creative process, yet I do think that in the modern day, a lot of productions seem to rush their development in detriment to their finished work.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
War-torn Fantasy... Is it cheating if one word is hyphenated?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Anxiety, definitely. I can be very anxious and doubtful about a lot of things, especially the general future of stuff. Am I going to get a job later? Am I going to fail the assignment? Are the people around me actually supportive of me? A lot of questions certainly race through my head, and it actively makes me less productive. People often talk about the "flight-or-fight" response to stressful situations, but there is one other response that is applicable; "Freeze". That is my response. I had days where I didn't do anything besides stress about work I had to do. When you also don't use those unproductive days to relax and mentally recharge, that will lead to worse motivation, more anxiety, and almost even burnout.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I watched the feedback when I was about to go to sleep, so my enthusiasm was definitely numbed thanks to sleepiness. However, I felt a sense of childlike joy and appreciation out of the reactions. The fact that so many people understood the overall tale and allegories was relieving, since it was definitely one of the challenges to showcase a setting like this and have it be understood by an audience. To have your film be praised by family, friends, peers, and your teachers is one thing, but to be recognized and applauded by people on the other side of the world makes it feel like a true achievement.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
It started during my education at the LUCA-school of Arts. But my willingness to publish my stories and worlds came way before that. Short film in this case was the best medium I had available. I'm also a visual artist, instead of a literary or musical artist, so the switch from illustration to film was almost inevitable.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Definitely a few films come to mind. I remember watching the Nightmare Before Christmas almost 14 times in one week when I was a kid. Mad Max: Fury Road is another film I enjoy watching a lot. However, the film I have watched almost yearly and still occasionally watch with enthusiasm is the Disney Animated Film "Treasure Planet''. It was a film that kind of shaped my personality and my interests in fantasy and it's a marvelous example of wonderfully thought out and amazingly executed worldbuilding. I wish I was able to procure the Artbook of that film, but it is a collectors item these days and very expensive.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I think the main one is to just grow and ensure security, legitimacy and confidentiality to the participants. Festivals, especially smaller ones, can be risky and frightening to send your work to. You don't want to accidentally give your work to people who will abuse your creative rights or steal credit for your work, and you also don't want to overinvest in sending your film to so many festivals that you go broke. So to ensure that the festival is not only a good investment, but also a place that respects the creators is a good focus.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It can be overwhelming in my experience, but to see a proper hub for the "festival circuit" is very assuring. I am currently confident to say that it is a legitimate way to send out your work, but I am a complete newbie in this creative environment, so I am still cautious of using it.
10. What is your favorite meal?
I live in Belgium which has a traditional dish called "Stoofvlees" (translated literally as "Stew-meat"). It is also internationally known as Flemish Stew or Carbonade Flamande. It is a beef-and-onion stew that also includes bread, mustard and beer. It can vary in taste depending on what type of beer and extra spices you use, but it is always a lovely meal. You usually serve it with fries, which our country is famed for.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I'm currently doing an internship at a Belgian animation studio and it is going very well so far. I hope that now that I'm a graduated animator, I can continue working in the business and hopefully earn my living from it. As for the future of "The Great No-Man's Land", I will keep creating illustrations for it and developing it further. I'm not an ambitious person, and I'm not really thinking about what new film is coming next, but if I get an opportunity, I might make another one set in this fantastical world. I have had ideas of making some sort of Artbook for it, and I already made a pretty in depth production-dossier of the film, but that will be an endeavour for the far future. At the end of the day, I just want to continue having fun with my illustrations and have some security in this very insecure world. Whatever may lead from it, I will happily look forward to it.