Trevor Jimenez’s acclaimed animated short Weekends was one of the big winners at the Annecy Festival this past June. The Pixar story artist made the poignant, personal short in his free time over the past four years. You can watch the short for the next two weeks online at the Short Film Festival website and vote for it here.
We spoke to Jimenez a few months ago, before his big win at Annecy. Here is what he told us about his work and methodology:
Animag: Perhaps we can start by you talking about how you came up with the idea for the your poignant short.
Trevor Jimenez: The film started as a drawing I did ten years ago of a kid walking from his Mom’s home to his Dad’s car, based off the feeling I had going between the homes of my parents when I was a kid. When I shared it with friends, it started these interesting conversations about divorce and my memories as a kid spending weekends at my Dad’s. I started to develop a story based on other personal childhood memories about a divorced couple told from the child’s point of view. I knew early on I wanted a film with no dialogue, and the dream imagery started to filter in to communicate how the kid was feeling as his situation evolved.
How long did it take to make?
I spent around four years writing and storyboarding the film in my off hours from studio work, and then in September 2016 I took about a year off of work to produce the film which was finished in September 2017.
How many people worked on it?
I worked closely with Chris Sasaki to find the look of the film, eventually he agreed to become the Production Designer and worked with 7 background painters to paint all the BGs. I ended doing most of the animation, but had 8 friends help out animating several sequences in the film. 12 cel painters (some of them were animators on the short). We had a sound supervisor, Kenny Pickett, and another sound engineer, Adrian Maruri do all of the soundwork. All in all we probably had around 30 people work on the film.
Which tools did you use to animate it?
TV Paint for animation and cel painting, After Effects for compositing, Photoshop for painting.
Now that the short has received so much acclaim and won several prizes, what are you proudest of?
Probably just finishing it! I never imagined making a 15 minute animated short on my own time. Aside from that I think I’m really proud of the fact that so many talented and amazing people came on board to help me make this film, which is a deeply personal and specific story that still resonated enough with them to volunteer their time. I never planned on working with a team this big, but I’m so grateful that everything worked out the way it did.
What was your biggest challenge?
Working on something this personal is rewarding but also strange and challenging. I’d come up with ideas that were inspired my personal memories, and these would have obvious emotional value to me but sometimes wouldn’t mean anything to a friend or a total stranger who didn’t grow up the way I did. A lot of work went into finding moments that were unique and specific but still landed emotionally for people watching the film for the first time. This whole process was challenging, but also therapeutic and educational.
Why do you love best about working in short animation format?
I think it forces a filmmaker to be economic with their storytelling choices and with animation there aren’t any real limits to what one can visualize or imagine. I think this combination makes the medium special, and personally I’ve seen so many animated shorts that have inspired me or blown my mind…I’ve seen some recently that have surprised me in the best ways possible.
You can learn more about Trevor’s art and career at http://jimeneziisociety.tumblr.com/