March 11, 2018
It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon as the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) held a special screening of Le Grand Mechant Renard(The Big Bad Fox), along with a Q & A/Interview with its director, Benjamin Renner.
I saw the original French trailer over the summer. When I heard that NYICFF was showing the film this weekend; I was ecstatic. So, this journalist hung up her press pass and purchased a ticket.
Of course, old habits die-hard; as I ended up taking photos and giving my business card to Mr. Renner. For those unfamiliar with his work, Benjamin Renner is also the director of the Oscar-nominated film, Ernest & Celestine(2012). My colleague, Anita C.Wang and I covered the film for Samurai Beat Radio at NYICFF 2014.
The Q & A/Interview deeply resonated with me. Mr. Renner shared that the film is based on drawings that he did as a teenager and gave to his family as gifts. As a film/animation student, I see similarities with my work. My superhero short film, The Return of The Royals(ROTR), is based off a superheroine character I created when I was a kid.
A childhood visit to a farm inspired the plot of Le Grand Mechant Renard(The Big Bad Fox). Mr. Renner wanted to see the chicks hatch. However, his Dad wasn’t sure when they’d hatch. (It could be a few hours, days or weeks) His Dad, cleverly told him that once they hatch, that if they saw him, the chicks would think he’s their mother. (This is known as imprinting.) He’d have to get a job, feed them and take care of them. Mr. Renner then joked that at 6 years old, he wasn’t ready to be a single parent. Years later this would lead to an idea, ‘What would be unlikely “mom”?’ Hence, a fox taking care of 3 young chickens.
Mr. Renner later commented that ‘it felt weird to win an award for childhood drawing that I only shared with my family’. He was humbly referring to the 2018 César (France’s Prestigious Academy Awards)
After the Q & A/Interview, Benjamin Renner drew in my sketchbook. Hearing him discuss animatics; I excitedly told him about my animatic assignment. It turns out were both animating humans for the 1st time.
I’m very thankful that NYICFF continues to show French animated films. It’s inspired me to create more bilingual work, whether it’s a film or comic strip.