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Tropfest winners: Ezequiel Paolinelli

After coming third at the recent Tropfest South East Asia with his short film “The Last Flight” and bagging himself an all-expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi, Ezequiel Paolinelli talks exclusively about his life, inspirations and being alone.

All smiles: Ezequiel grins after receiving his award. Photo: Michael Chuan

What’s your background?
I’m from Argentina, but have been living in Malaysia for the past four years. I graduated with a degree in Electronic Engineering and after working for a telecommunications company for a year and a half, I decided to try my luck in Australia. Although I wanted to live in Australia, a few months later I got a job and it required me to be based in Kuala Lumpur. That’s how I ended up here. It was never part of my plan.
How did you feel when you won the prize?
I will always remember that day as one of the best days of my life. It was incredible and weird at the same time. I was not expecting to be one of the top three at all. My mind went blank when I had to give my speech. I regret this as I had many people to thank for the success of the film. I might use this chance now to make up for that. I want to thank Jon Chew, Joanna Romanczukiewicz, Al Ibrahim, Sheryl Chong, Li Sia Tan, Eugenio Martinez Canto and German Sanchez for making it possible. Besides them, I would like to give a big thanks to all the people that also contributed along the way. Lastly, a big thanks to my parents and brother, who always encourage me to pursue my dreams.
How do you think winning the prize will help you?
I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi before, so I’m really excited to be given this opportunity to go in October and meet great people. Hopefully, this will open up more doors and allow me to pursue my passion further.
This was your first short film, and it met with success. Will you be making more films?
Yes, that’s my plan for 2014. From my point of view, I have to at least make another film and see what happens. It’s also a way to see whether this all just boiled down to good luck.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
For my next project, I’m thinking of submitting a film to Tropfest Australia this year. I’ve already come up with a story and I’m working on it as we speak. I work more efficiently when I have a deadline looming over me, which is why I managed to finish The Last Flight in four months. Now with Tropfest Australia in mind, I know I have to have it ready by October 2014.
Tell us about the animation in the film? How was that achieved?
It was made by a friend of a friend in Argentina, who owns his own studio. It was surprisingly quite hard to find 2D animators, it seems like everyone has migrated to purely 3D animation. We had talked a few days before the shoot just to be clear if there were any particular requirements. The night before, he sent me a mockup of the bird and we used it during the shoot. Since there were a lot of drawings to be done, it ended up taking us a long time to have it finished.

Why did you choose this subject?
There is a quote that I always have in my mind: “Happiness is only real when shared” by Christopher McCandless. I completely agree with it, I think everyone needs someone in their life. We are not meant to be solitary individuals. Having travelled many times to new places during my life allowed me to experience what it feels like to be alone. I’m definitely not someone who enjoys it. Therefore, I tried to explore what could happen if someone finds himself completely alone, with no one to talk to or share life experiences with, what would he/she do?
Was it difficult to get everything in to a seven-minute film?
Having to tell the story in seven minutes was not a hard task. We did have a lot of footage, and we could have gone for longer but it was not needed. We tried to keep everything simple, you can see that in the colour pattern on each scene, the black and white animation and even the music was just restricted to two instruments at a time. We didn’t want to add anything that didn’t contribute to the story.
You are an electronic engineer. Has this had an influence on your filmmaking?
I’m currently in a project manager position so I used this experience to have everything planned in advance. Before we started I created different spreadsheets including cost, roles, post-production tasks, editing timeline and even a project plan. At the end it didn’t end up being exactly as planned but it did help a lot. I think there were too many uncertainties from my side being this my first time directing a short film.
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