After studying design in Moscow, Elena Walf worked as an illustrator and author for children's books and magazines, causing a stir with the title Where Birdie Lives, among others. Equipped with a portfolio full of beautiful illustrations, she eventually secured a spot at Animationsinstitut and graduated with a diploma in animation in 2015. Today, she works as a freelance director, animator, and designer in Stuttgart.
For her diploma, Elena dedicated herself to the theme of self-acceptance creating the lovely, award-winning animation Some Thing. Accompanied by light-hearted sounds, simple shapes and lines draw the endearing story of a small mountain that, instead of precious gold, fire or oil, holds only a tiny, strange and useless SOME THING. Is it really that bad to have SOME THING strange inside of you what all the others laugh about?!
Read on to learn more about Elena and the making of the 2D animated film.
Director Elena Walf on Some Thing
"The story was quite different in the beginning, when it was still in my head. It was a love story between the small mountain, and the people. The little mountain, which couldn't keep up with the big mountains and was a failure, was supposed to fall asleep on the outskirts of the village, where it grew into a cherry tree. However, once I got the ideas down on paper, the story steadily evolved and eventually found a different ending.
Also the title of the film was not clear from the start. The German word "Etwas" was my working title for what seemed like an eternity. I searched and searched and couldn't find anything that fits better. Andreas Hykade, who supervised my film, finally translated "Etwas" into English and I stuck with it, Some Thing. The shortest way was also the most beautiful.
Not only is Some Thing my diploma film, but it is also kind of the first film I've ever made, so everything was pretty challenging. I originally come from the field of children's book illustration. That certainly had an influence on the storytelling and the look of the film. It also meant that I had to learn a lot of techniques and processes. This shows, for example, in the slow cuts or the rather simple animations. It was important to me that the film looks like it was drawn so i drew all the textures on paper. The textures were then composited in Nuke and moved along. I animated and colored with TVPaint.
The best thing I took away from working on Some Thing is animating to music. In the beginning, I didn't know how to properly implement the scene where SOME THING starts making sounds. So I had the music written first and eventually animated to it. It turned out to be the best decision of my animator life. I still do it the same way today.
I was also very lucky with my team! Maybe not unusual, but still wonderful and fantastic: I am still working with the exact same people today. On the series Lena's Farm that I am now preparing with Studio Film Bilder, Nicolai Kreppart (musician), Luis Schöffend (sound designer), Florian Stamm (voice) und Matthias Bäuerle (compositing) are all involved. And I am more than happy about it. Thank you guys!