The adventurous Evangeline finds an abandoned alligator egg one evening deep in the swamps of Louisiana. She decides to take it home and secretly hatch it under her bed. When the alligator hatches, she finally has her long-awaited playmate. But the alligator soon becomes a problem for Evangeline. Director Nadine Schwenk travelled through the southern states of the USA during her holiday year. She took with her the idea for her diploma film Evangeline.
You had a clear vision about the film Evangeline early on in your studies. Where did it come from and what inspired you so much about the idea?
I had the idea for Evangeline after my gap year. During that time, I traveled through the South of the United States – from Nashville to Atlanta and New Orleans to Austin, Texas. Since I was young, this region has always fascinated me. During my travels I wanted to experience authentic music, people and landscapes. I visited a lot of concerts and played the guitar with strangers who warmly welcomed me into their midst. I have also always been a huge fan of dinosaurs and reptiles – so basically everything that has scales. While I was in New Orleans, I hiked through the swamps, saw wild alligators and was even able to hold a baby alligator, which was a fantastic experience for me.
The South of the USA is a region that is somewhat controversial yet has always excited me. Most of the people I know aren’t especially interested in country or bluegrass music, nor do they share my love for reptiles; rather, they find them repulsive and disgusting. That’s why I wanted to introduce the audience to this world I love so much.
Not only were you the director, but you also animated large parts of the film yourself. Wasn't that very challenging (if so, how)? Or did both roles inspire each other?
The challenge was to quickly jump between the different roles. Sometimes you have to talk about the music, then give animation feedback, and then animate yourself, so you have to quickly engage in a variety of tasks throughout the day. I had a great team that supported me
and we found ways to optimize this process so everybody could work independently for long stretches of time. The advantage of combining both roles, in my opinion, is that you have a clear vision of the movie overall as well as the animation style, which allows you to make choices in both with an understanding of how they will impact each other.