Interview with Guy Ben Shetrit
Who is Guy Ben Shetrit?Guy Ben Shetrit is an Israeli director, animator, musician and composer.
“Hey” is Guy Ben Shetrit’s first independent project as a director after 13 years of serving as an animator for commercials, TV programs and computer games. In 2008 Ben Shetrit and Aiko studio won MTV international art break competition. In addition to being a successful animator, Ben Shetrit is also the founding member of Eatliz as well as cult band Infectzia. Eatliz’s debut album “Violently Delicate”, including the song "Hey" was released in Germany, Austria and Israel in 2008 and received high praises from both audiences and the media.
Your film is about?Sci-Fi Fantasy journey of a little girl with a special pet friend, a huge toad. Once the girl loses her pet, which drifts in the sky in a form of a balloon, she is going through different adventurous scenarios by chasing it. This is a full 3D animation music video for the song ’Hey’ by Eatliz band.
How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?As a kid I took drawing classes. I went to art junior high where I learned plastic art, sculpting, drawing pottery and graphic arts.
During my military service in the Israeli defence forces in 1990, a good friend of mine served in the filming unit of Israel’s air force, where he was exposed to 3D Studio software. He decided I must play with it and see if it interests me. As this time I didn’t have a PC, and I bought one at age 21, only for one purpose - starting to play around with 3D software. This friend showed me the basic use of it, and I continued by myself as an autodidact. I was immediately drawn to character animation, and it’s my main interest ever since.
After six years of working as an animator in different studio, I landed in DSPI animation studio that worked on an animation feature. DPSI had a lot of experienced knowledge full animators that gave us animation courses and classes. I learned there everything I didn’t manage to learn by myself.
Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts and what is important to you?During my work as animator all these years I was involved in all the different stages and always gave input and remarks to the staff. I was there in the whole development process, in order that the outcome that gets to the animator will be as good as it gets. Whether if it’s the 3D model or the Rig or the Skin. In Hey project the process was not different. The difference was that I was the final and decisive person that gave the creative and technical selections, along being the screenwriter and the director.
I worked in the animated features and TV series industry for 13 years and all these years I was surrounded by extra talented animators. This time I wanted to combine my experience with what I learned from storytelling with the musical aspect. Since I’m also a musician and composer I wanted to merge these two fields to one creation.
Where do you get your ideas or influences from?I aim to satisfy the need of a richer, imaginative and more naive world. It fits together with the things I loved as a child. This is my refusal to turn off the switch of everything that so beautiful about kinds, that refuse to grow up and to keep playing with magic, dragons and hallucinations. Everything that a matured kid chooses to leave behind as far as rich imagination wise. My inspiration comes from artist that do the same; I love the work of Hayao Miyazaki, particularly the movie "Spirited Away", which led me by it’s imagination and atmosphere when working on "Hey". I love the fantastic wild fixation-free surrealism in the Japanese anima and in Miyazaki’s work in particular. I admire the work of Bill Plimpton and Michel Gondry, especially in the way he is dealing with his famous one shots.
How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?"Hey" is a song I wrote for my band Eatliz, taken from our debut album "Violently Delicate".
When I worked in Crew 972 animation studio, they encouraged us a lot to create. During one of the breaks between the productions a group of animators initiate to produce a short film. One of the animators in this group included Eitan Weinshtock, one of "Hey" art directors (alongside Sherban). This initiative made it to the advanced story board part but stopped there. One year after this initiative, I decided to make an animation music video for Eatliz, a complicated art-pop group I founded and is the main composer of. Then I remembered this unrealized project. At first I thought of taking it’s concept and bend it to the sake of the music video, but soon enough I realized it was artificial. I decided only to adopt the idea that the lead character would be a little girl. Eitan Weinshtock was turned on by the idea of making a music video and started to scribble the girl’s character from the beginning. Eitan Weinshtock was turned on by the idea of making a music video and started to scribble the girl’s character from the beginning. Eitan also saw "Flushed Away" animation feature film back in the day, and really loved the crazy toad character. This gave him the appetite to suggest a toad as a character. In one of the mornings when I got to work, I found Eitan’s Sketch book wide open on his table. I took a pick in it and saw, inside loaded paper of sketches, a little girl climbs on the back of a toad, which is two heads bigger than her. When I had all the characters in my mind, at this point all my lights were turned on; I listened to "Hey" song and the ideas evolved very rapidly. Once I had the characters in my mind, The metaphors, the scenes and the scenarios to the music video of "Hey" were running around my head for two months endlessly.
How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?It’s highly important to me and specially in this project, which is a music video.
The video, just as the music, are both built on complex beats that evolve and break in a very organic yet precise way. The video’s editing also compliments this style, cutting rapidly during fast action sequences, and letting the eye rest just enough before the next outburst of chaotic events. The transitions between different locations and time periods are blended sometimes through a special cut and sometimes through motion. These help carry the viewer’s eye into a whole new scene, while still maintaining a sense of continuity of mood and consistency from the previous one.
How do you finance your projects (by yourself, sponsors or subsidy)?Hey started as a group effort with my fellow animators. Along the way my music lable Anova Music, financed HEY.
Video broadcasting platforms on the internet, why or why not?I hug every marketing way that is available. I’m a big fan of streaming services.
What is your next project about?Right now I’m working on an animation music video for "Food Fighters", new song for my band Eatliz which will be released on our new E.P "Delicately Violent" soon. I’m thinking of taking it to a less frantic place.
This music video will not be in 3D but a stop motion animation. My need to change the technique is influenced by my work with my fellow animator and director Yuval Nathan, who directed the stop motion music video for "Her Morning Elegance", which I helped him to animate. Yuval also directed Eatliz debut animation music video to our song "Attractive".
Guy Ben Shetrit - 2009