With little more than imagination, and a touch of humanity, a young girl manages to survive war, and discovers hope.
Interview with Writer/Director Cinzia Angelini
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Cinzia: Thank you! “Mila” is a personal project to me as it was inspired by stories that my mother told me when I was a child about her experiences during World War 2 in Trento, Italy. Even now as an adult, the memories of what she went through still haunts her.
Children are very resilient and can overcome amazing odds but it’s interesting how they view the world and it is important for me, especially as a mother, that we give the children a voice as unfortunately, they don’t always have advocates to help them.
“Mila” has become more than just a story in my head that I wanted to create for entertainment value, but it’s also a tribute to survivors of war and also a call to action in hopes to raise awareness to children around the world who need our help.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Cinzia: For me, I hope that you will be interested in seeing “Mila” not only because of how we’ve made this high quality short animated film – with over 250 volunteers from over 25 countries around the world as the largest virtual animation crew – but also because the story of “Mila” is compelling to watch.
You or someone you know doesn’t have to have survived a war to connect with this film. The core of this film is about finding hope, perseverance and life during challenging times, so no matter what your “war story” is, everyone can learn from our 5-year-old Mila that you can dig deep within yourself and find the strength to keep moving forward and choosing hope.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Cinzia: Mila was definitely born because of the impact that a personal story that happened to a person I love, my mom, had on her and by deciding to embrace that and make it into a film it transformed into a universal story because what she witnessed as a child during WWII is very similar to what millions of children had to witness and unfortunately are witnessing in other wars.
When a topic is shared by so many people it’s not personal anymore but because universal. That is the power behind the film, this is the reason it attracts so many people.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
Cinzia: Any story has to evolve from the first idea. It’s the nature of telling a story in the best possible way. It wasn’t easy to tell a story that was inspired by sensations and emotions and build a dynamic succession of events from that. It was a great way to challenge and improve my writing skills.
The story went through three major rewrites. The most important thing is to keep sharing the initial drafts with family and friends and ask for sincere feedback. Sometimes what makes sense to us does not to someone else. It’s important to keep refining and improving every moment and every page until the story is clear for everyone or at least most people.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Cinzia: The feedback so far has been incredible. We released our teaser trailer April 2016, the emails and social media response was overwhelming and really energized our team to keep pushing and working hard to finish our film! We’ve been invited to speak at different festivals to talk about how we’ve been making our film, which is quite innovative considering that if we tried to create a film through a “virtual studio” just 5-10 years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible.
We’ve also received so many heartwarming and moving stories from people who have experienced their own “war stories” and that “Mila” has touched them in some way. Many people have reached out to us to volunteer which has been amazing and humbling.
Another thing that’s been incredible is that through Social Media, we’ve been able to reach out to UNICEF Italy and after several conversations, showing them our trailer, website, etc., they’ve given us their support, which is thrilling and exciting as we’re working towards the same goals.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Cinzia: For sure I would have not imagined this type of overwhelming positive feedback when I first started with few friends. We have now learned that Mila has some special power behind it, it’s not just a film but it’s a movement, it’s a film that moves people and when people decide to move all together in one direction incredible and magical things happen.
I don’t know what the future will have for us but for sure we are doing all we can to change things for the children and make a difference, all united. Together.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
Cinzia: Andrea and I really appreciate what “We Are Moving Stories” is doing in trying to get impactful stories out to more people and we also try to support Indie artists and filmmakers who are trying to get their story told.
We hope that even if we can reach just one person through your site, to start a conversation about what is happening to children during wartime, that we can make a small difference either now or in the future.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Cinzia: We are always excited to speak with Film Festival Directors and journalists to see how we can share our film and how we’ve been making it. As I mentioned before, my producer, Andrea and I have been to other festivals and film studios presenting a “Behind the Scenes of Mila: How to Create a High Quality Animated Short Film via the World Wide Web”.
So many people come up to us asking, “how do you get so many people to volunteer on your film? And have such a high quality?”, so we really enjoy speaking on this and helping other filmmakers in the hopes that we might help them in some way with their own projects. Of course, once the film is completed we will be submitting to film festivals around the world and are excited for that aspect of the process.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Cinzia: Films can be incredibly powerful and impactful and have the opportunity to touch people’s lives and we hope that “Mila” will have that same effect on our audience. Hopefully, it will move people to have conversations about war and children, that it will inspire others who are struggling with their own “war story” that they too can overcome and endure their situation and be a survivor and live a happy life, that artists and indie filmmakers will be encouraged around the world that they too can fulfill their dreams in this industry as long as you have the passion and drive to make it happen.
You don’t have to be a part of a major studio to make a film or be an artist. With the access of technology anything is possible!
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Cinzia: I think the key question might be, “Do you think that the use of animation to tell a story with a strong theme can in a way reach adults at a deeper level? Does animation have a magical touch and is able to reach the kid that is inside us leaving a stronger impression?”
Would you like to add anything else?
Cinzia: Right now we are still fundraising to help pay for our daily production needs. Our Indiegogo campaign ends July 9th 2016. Even though we are 100% volunteer based project, we still have production costs like software, licenses, hardware, rendering, etc. We need help with this so to keep pushing hard to finish the film.
We are in the process of creating events and opportunities now and in the future for outreach to continue to raise awareness to help children all around the world and every contribution to our campaign is an active way people can make a difference. Together we can move mountains! To donate, please go to: https://goo.gl/geZ67M. We have a lot of great perks to choose from as a thank you for contributing! Our campaign ends July 9th.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Cinzia: After having completed the pre production of the film including design, art direction, modeling and rigging the team is busy finalizing layout, animation, CFX, lighting, rendering and compositing. Mila will also have two minutes of 2D end credits that will actually wrap up the story. The Art Director, Alexandra Kavalova and her end credits team are busy creating the art for that.
Also, thank you so much for spending some time to learn more about “Mila” and for sharing our story of how we’re making this film as well as what we are trying to accomplish for kids around the world.
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 11 minutes
Director: Cinzia Angelini
Producer: Andrea Emmes
Writer: Cinzia Angelini
About the writer, director and producer:
Cinzia Angelini: 20-year veteran in animation as a 2D/3D animator (Disney, Sony, DreamWorks, Warner Brothers), and is now working as a freelancing story artist (Illumination).
Andrea Emmes: Worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years as both a performer and in production. (Disney World, Disney Interactive, Bento Box Interactive).
Valerio Oss – Executive Producer, Visual Effects Supervisor
Valentina Martelli – Executive Producer
Andy Gahan – Executive Producer
Pepe Valencia – Director of Photography
Chris Hiess – CG Supervisor
Alexandra Kavalova – Art Director
Richard Smitheman – Co-Art Director
Flavio Gargano – Composer
Luis Grane – Character Designer
Torion Sellers – Recording Artist on soundtrack
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Once we finish the film, we will be looking forward to reaching out to festival directors and journalists as we begin the submission process for “Mila”.
Funders: Grants from Trento Film Commission, Fondazione Cassa Rurale Di Trento, Indiegogo Campaign (ends July 9, 2016)
Made in association with: Pixel Cartoon, Ibiscus Media
Release date: 2017
Where can I watch it? TBD – We’re halfway through production. Keep updated on our progress at http://www.milafilm.com/