Interview Leon Golterman (Aeronaut) and tour Pedri Animation

Interview Leon Golterman (Aeronaut) and tour Pedri Animation

Ankeveen, 29 July 2021

A visit to the well-known stop-motion studio Pedri Animation leads me to Ankeveen. The place is somewhat difficult to find, but a sign along a road between farmlands puts me on the right track. My destination turns out to be tucked away in a small and austere business park on the edge of the village. I pass a scrap yard and several car garages, until a little further on, I see the name of the studio on a sign with a series of company names.

Then it is time to search even more. A long path leads me past various gray and somewhat monotonous business premises. But then, at the end of the path, a colorful building pops up for a change. At the front of the building is a large sign with the words PEDRI ANIMATION in the form of a cleverly designed logo. I have reached my destination.

Leon Golterman (writer and director of the short film ‘Morphine’) and Paul Mathot (producer and co-founder of Pedri Animation), receive me kindly. While enjoying a cup of tea, they explain the history of the studio. For over ten years, Pedri Animation has been providing animations using stop-motion techniques. They make commercials, series and short films, including ‘Miffy and her friends’ and the Golden Calf short animation film ‘Under the Apple Tree.’ Leon and Paul talk passionately about their work. Yet there is one production that they especially want to talk about.

Leon is the creator of the short stop-motion film ‘Aeronaut’. It’s his very first collaboration with the studio, something he’s really excited about. It is this film that gave me a tour of the studio. After a lengthy shooting period, ‘Aeronaut’ is now in its final phase. Before the film will be shown as support act for various feature films, a few final shots still need to be filmed. I am nevertheless the first outsider to view the raw cut of the film.

‘Aeronaut’ tells the story of ten-year-old Kevin. He dreams of becoming a pilot, but his hard-hearted father does not appreciate this. A mysterious postal package may offer him hope. Kevin certainly wants to realize his dream: he wants to cross the skies at all costs.

The message to follow your dreams, combined with Kevin’s love of flying, immediately reminds me of the work of the Japanese grandmaster Hayao Miyazaki. The Miyazaki movie ‘The Wind Rises’ (2013) comes to mind first. I ask Leon if he happens to be familiar with Miyazaki’s oeuvre. Of course he is. We talk passionately about the Japanese animator, like two film fanatics among themselves.

Then the tour follows. The studio is open, clean and brightly lit. Various abstract paintings hang on the walls. Dolls and clay figures are displayed in various display cases. I meet the Pedri Animation staff, who are all busy completing ‘Aeronaut’. It is heavy and time consuming work. Every frame counts and there is often no take-two.

Visit Pedri Animation (Aeronaut) Cinema magazine

My appreciation for the studio is growing by the second. I ask Leon if he doesn’t think it’s a shame that stop-motion films are being made less and less, while CGI animation is growing. Leon offers new perspective. According to him, stop motion and computer animation can coexist perfectly. In fact, they already do. Stop-motion studios like Pedri Animation have plenty of work and are constantly creating new projects. It is almost unthinkable that work in this sector is drying up. People still have a strong interest in the traditional animation technique.

Leon and I seem to have the same fondness for stop-motion: the imperfection. The nice thing about stop-motion is that not everything has to be straight. There are small errors and deviations in the technique, which give the final product a rough edge. The little shivers make the overall picture authentic. It gives character and charm to a film.

Visit Pedri Animation (Aeronaut) Cinema magazine

For Leon, who until recently mainly made live-action films, this technique also offers more possibilities. The boundlessness of animation gives a filmmaker like Leon a degree of creativity that he would never be able to express with a live-action film. This is one of the reasons why Leon is proud of his film. He hopes to be able to dive into the world of stop-motion again in the future.

‘Aeronaut’ will be shown in the autumn as the support act for a major cinema film at Vue cinema chains.

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