Pilar Garcia-Fernandezsesma is a freelance animator and fine artist from New York. She is a RISD animation alum and a Student Academy Award gold medalist. In her spare time she makes a variety of short films ranging in style and genre, some of which have shown at festivals like Slamdance, Annecy and Animafest Zagreb. Pilar enjoys making both 2D animation and stopmotion films, and often uses elements of mixed media in her films by combining traditional and digital elements. Her work as a whole ranges from fiction and fantastical to poetic and metaphorical, and often deals with memory and human interaction paired with themes of womanhood, family, and our relationship to the natural world.
We know that your work as a whole ranges from fiction and fantastical to poetic and metaphorical. Would you share with us what was the trigger for this script?
Ciervo came about from a combination of things I had been thinking about that year. My grandfather died when I was around 13 and was severely mentally and physically impaired due to a series of strokes in the last 10-20 years of his life. As one of the older cousins I had a vague idea of what he was like before he got especially bad, but the person I knew as a child was not the same one my mother and grandmother had experienced, so hearing about what he had been like was quite jarring for me considering the person that I had known. Because of this, I had been thinking quite a lot about our idea of our family when we are young and how that in many ways clashes with the actual people they are and we understand them to be as adults. My family also differs from me politically and religiously so I have experience trying to reconcile the negative parts of a person you were raised to love in many ways. My family also has a couple of hunters in it as well so I was also exploring that aspect of ‘machismo’ and the hunter-prey dynamic.
How did you come up with the idea to morph the girl into the deer and viceversa when chased? What is the metaphor there?
The metaphor with the deer is essentially just about how men at times view women as prizes or prey. Because her father is a hunter and is essentially now hunting ‘her’ she becomes the prey.
Has Ciervo been conceived as a non-spoken animation from the very beginning? What did you base that decision on?
It was conceived as non-spoken from the beginning, the main reason being that it was set in Spain and if there had been dialogue it would have to be in Spanish. I had done subtitles on a film before which is a bit of a hassle, and considering it was a school film and my teachers and classmates mostly did not speak Spanish it would add some difficulty with feedback. The other part of it is that I personally have a hard time writing dialogue that feels organic to me so I decided against using it for this film.
Ciervo is definitely a visually beautiful experience perfectly encompassed by Potito Buleria's music and your own percussion and vocals. Is that right? Was it composed beforehand or was it developed along with the filmmaking?
I like to think of myself as a little Hitchcockesque about my sound design in my films. I have a hard time letting someone else do it and don’t tend to like non-diegetic music (i.e. music that is not happening in actuality in the film). There is something that bothers me personally about just placing a soundtrack over a film that feels a bit quiche, so I tend to stray towards soundscapes that make the music part of that sonic background like percussion and small musical accents. So for this film, my idea was to emulate a lot of Asian short films’ use of percussive instruments as accents and pivot points in films, but with castanettes and zapateo. From there I filled in some parts that needed something a bit more melodic with Potitos beautiful work and a sprinkling of flutes throughout. So the music was loosely thought of before production in terms of the percussive elements, but it was expanded on over time to add some nuances.