WHAT IS THE COLLECTIVE WORKSHOP?

  THE PRINCIPLE

 

THE COLLECTIVE WORKSHOP refers to the unit of people who sign up to produce short animation films in a team that is formed at Zorobabel.

The principle supports on the fact that all participants are co-directors of the project. The Collective Workshop designs the film in a collective way beginning from the screenplay and ending with the final editing. All decisions are taken in group in the same way as the democratic voting system. The participants come in function of their availability in the previous proposed schedule, 4 days a week.

As a matter of fact, the participants organise workmeetings during the different phases of the production. They all sit around a table, take notes, scrawl, argue, are delighted, doubt, drink a cup of coffee and the project is knocked into shape. During the screenplay phase,we try to gather a maximum of people around the table. While the project is being made, we regularly have meetings to discuss an issue.

The number of persons varies from one meeting to the other as everybody comes to the workshop in function of their availability. It happens that we are with few people around the table, these mini-meetings nevertheless often stress the development of the film. To come to a decision, we reason, argue, vote and the project grows step by step. These meetings are also meant to inform the group on the progress of the film, to find technical solutions or to argue on a choice concerning the narrative or esthetical issue.
No specific capabilities are needed. This is of overriding importance. The Collective Workshop is a place accessible to everyone, originating from all social or cultural sources. The project is situated in a permanent education dynamic, in which we exchange our know-how, without the intention to give a specific professional education. All the phases of the production of the film are brought up: writing of the screenplay, storyboard, scenography, cinematography, shooting, direction, editing, providing of sound effects.

 

  THE TECHNICAL MEANS

 

The main characteristic issue that distinguishes the Collective Workshop from the traditional initiation workshops exists in the means that are placed at the group's disposal: the film is made in 35 mm - Dolby sound with professional techniques. The little film set that we use, has an animation control cell a camcorder and a computer) that acts as an assit for the high definition recording cell (a digital camera and a computer).

We also use a bas relief animation stand. For the sound, we use a microphone and a DAT recorder. Two shooting rooms are entirely dedicated to the Collective Workshop's films. The films are produced within one year by groups of an average of 40 persons. The outcome of these films is very successful, which is shown by all the various selections on festivals and all the received awards.
The animation technique that we prefer in particular in the Collective Workshop is 'Stop Motion', or 'puppet animation'. This is a technique that assures creative work from the beginning to the end because we work collective. This means that even in the shooting phase, there still are other tasks that are of great importance like the lightning, direction and animation. It is easier to reach an accord on concrete aesthetics than on a drawing style.
We can not imagine to make an animated cartoon in which we have to use a fixed style and in which we have to line up hundreds of drawings during one year. Nevertheless, we allow ourselves to use, for certain scenes, some aspects of other fields of the genre: animated cartoon, pixillation, bas relief animation stand, animated paint, Flash, Live, rotoscopy, animated cut paper, compositing, etc.

 

  THE PARTICIPANTS

 

The public has a wide range: high - school students and especially students who follow a higher education, job-seekers or people who are on the dole, short-term employees, etc. In general, the participants don't have previous experience in the animation, the goal of the workshop is to make them discover this medium. They don't necessarily have the specific culture concerning cinema. The main idea of such a workshop is to allow everyone to be open and to enlarge their cultural and social fields, including the animator of the workshop.
trainees, for whom a contract is made with schools, associations, formation centres, interim offices or a public support institution come to the workshop. They are automatically part of the project in progress of the Collective Workshop and this in the same way as the other participants: they are entirely integrated in the creative process of the workshop and therefore seen as co-director's.

The co-ordinator of the project makes sure that the trainee carries out the tasks in correspondence with the pedagogical goals of the institution to which they belong. If a trainee comes from a cinema school, he will deal with the shooting and the postproduction, if he comes from a stylist school, he will deal with the clothes, if he comes from a translation school, he will deal with the subtitles, if he comes from a communication school, he will deal with the preparation of an event, if he comes from a school of fine arts, he will deal with a little bit of everything, etc. As they are present at regular times, depending on their contract, they often give the project a continuous character, if you know that the usual participants only come in function of their availability and therefore their presents is in a way uncertain. .

The participation of each person is in function of his own needs and of his availability. No role is attributed to one or another participant, everybody has to decide for himself which part he wants in this project and on which level of production.

Some people come for the scenario, others for the editing and for the digital effects, others are specifically interested in the animation on its own or in the scenography or in the clothes. There are people who come for the human experience of a group project in a pleasant and playful team context. In this context, the participants are often obliged to become polyvalent as a result of the number of disciplines present in the manufacturing process of an animated film.
Practically, when a participant arrives, the co-ordinator makes a summary on the progress of the project and on the different things that can be done at that time and the participant chooses. This requires a certain listening capability of the animator: his constant preoccupation exists in making sure that everyone finds his place in the project which is not an easy job to do. The contributions to the film are therefore very different. In a group, and this goes in particular for the discussions, there are always assumptions of power which means personalities that tower more above others. For this reason, we constantly need to make sure that everybody participates.

 

  THE COORDINATION

 

A lot of questions (originating maybe from some unreliable rumours) exist concerning the role of the co-ordinator of the workshop. Some thought that the members of the Collective Workshop came to produce a project which was drawn up and finished off in advance by the Zorobabel animators. In this case, the participants would have the role of benevolent executives in a production in which they have nothing to say and of which Zorobabel's animators would be the real filmmakers. Why have some people believed this? We have to say, that voluntary work, as a way of function, is present in the traditional cinema because of its costs
The animation cinema, in particular, needs a lot of unqualified workers who come to paint, fix settings or to clean the drawings. This doesn't necessary mean exploitation: for some people this is the occasion to do teaching practice, to acquire experience or to explore an environment. But, of course, they must come into their own. Sometimes they are underemployed (i.e. serving coffee or playing chauffeur). It seems like cinema still makes people dream.
Whatever the moral position is that we can take concerning voluntary work, the Collective Workshop can in no way be placed in this debate. People don't come to Zorobabel to have the 'chance' to work on a professional animation film made by an experienced filmmaker. They come to produce an animated film of which they are the co-filmmakers. They come to Zorobabel to be the receiving party of a project in team without that there exists a hierarchy between the participants, to develop a group project in which everyone can have his say. .
The participators aren't professionals that offer their services to the production group. This is for the simple reason that we don't demand requirements or specific capabilities to participate in the film.

The project is clearly drawn up within the scope of permanent education, in which we exchange our know-how, we share moments of life and of creation, outside of all stress and obligation concerning schedule and productivity. If there is, under the group members, a person who is qualified in a certain field of production, this doesn't have to be in a compensation perspective, but in the idea to create collectively. The people who receive a compensation are persons who are involved with the project from outside and don't have the statute of a film director; comedians, musicians, sound engineer of the Dolby studio etc.

You have to understand that the Collective Workshop doesn't obey the trade logic of the audio-visual industry as we don't have commercial aims.

When you know the destiny of a short animated film, you know that this type of film doesn't have a particular lucrative career. For the moment, we don't have the intention to launch ourselves in the animation industry, the industry of television series, special Televisions or full-lengths films. We are devoted to the preservation of the independence given by the short film. A televisual project enforces inevitably deadlines and a pressure that aren't in line with our cultural and social goals.

In addition, this type of project, like full-length films, enforces a lot of work and a production time that is out of proportions to function within the scope of the Collective Workshop. And if you keep in mind that the privileged technique used within the scope of the Collective Workshop is the puppet animation, we think that it is financially impossible to consider a production of a full-length stop animation film in Belgium (and if it is possible, not as the main producer)

The last full-length puppet films released in our cinema theatres have been produced with American means ("Nightmare before Christmas", "Chicken run"), with the exception of initiatives that are totally crazy and that stay unnoticed like the wonderful 'The legend of the sky kingdom' by Roger Hawkins, produced in Zimbabwe.

To return to the role of the animator, as we said above, he can't come with a fully written screenplay but he can propose a starting point. This basic principle doesn't at all reflect the desire to enforce a screenplay that has been prepared for a long time before the first meetings.

Some examples :

For the first project, launched in 1997, the animators proposed to adapt the fairy tale of 'Bluebeard'. All the work concerning the adaptation and the reflection about the fairy tale, is part of a collective development . ' The little mechanical theatre' and ' The family plot' have original screenplays drawn up in group.

For "Jan Hermann", the animators considered a creation process to allow the group to break with the stereotypes that could be evoked by a collective screenplay. It concerned the drawing up of the story departing from existent interviews. The work involved with the research and selection of the interview has been directed by the group and a story naturally arose from this development. These interviews were reworked, adapted and reinterpreted.

For "Transit", the co-ordinator 's basic principle was to make a documentary and he gave free play to create a fiction if the group wished this. When the idea of the documentary was final, the choice for the subject was discussed around the table. For the 6th project, we decided to return to the process of an adaptation of an existing text. During several months, The Collective workshop team has searched for a short story, that we could easily adapt to animation and that was free of copyrights.

A lot of short stories have been proposed. We often discussed the adaptation possibilities. Resumes have been formulated and the choice fell on a short story, found in a book brought by a trainee.

This principle of work proposed by the animator stays rather subtle (a fairy tale, procedure, etc.) and allows often to launch the discussion within the group in the beginning of the film.

Nevertheless, the role of the animator in the Collective Workshop differs from the role he usually exercises in the initiation workshop, with children for instance. In the latter case, he is more reserved, he encourages the children to express themselves and he has to assure the pedagogical and technical surroundings. As part of the Collective Workshop, his role is the role of co-ordinator, responsible to assure the esthetical and narrative coherence of the project.
He guarantees a follow-up of all the realisation phases but also of the production. He assembles the ideas on the moment the storyboard is drawn and he assures its completion, he is well versed in the technical material of the shooting, the sound and the postproduction, the search for comedians, the financial search, he makes the link with the public authorities, etc. As he is present from the beginning to the end of the realisation, he is inevitable part of the film and it would be hypocritical to hold him abstracted from the creation process, if you know that he carries the project during a whole year. .

He is therefore equated with a co-filmmaker, with the same title as the other members of the Collective Workshop. In this order of idea, he participates in a recent movement in the permanent education : this movement is the fading of the distinction between the co-ordinators (director-animators) and the participants (the visitors of the association). He claims the right to also be a participant.

Maybe this issue has lead to the confusion around the indentification of the author of the film: the films are really made in a team by the Collective Workshop and not by the animators of Zorobabel. By the way, the credits are unmistakable, every film is systematically marked with "Réalisation : Atelier Collectif" ('Directed by Collective Workshop').

 

  DISTRIBUTION

 

The films are produced with professional means (35 mm- Dolby sound) and are afterwards, disregarding the pedagogical context in which they saw the light, distributed to festivals or to television stations in the same way as any short film produced in the conditions of the traditional productions. Because there is no category for the kind of film that we make in the Collective Workshop: this is not a professional film, nor a student's film ( Zorobabel is not a school).
>The category "collective amateur film" doesn't exist yet as this type of experience is as far as we know unique in the animation. The films are therefore in competition with director's films. This has as a result that the distinction between amateurs' films and professionals' films is brought up for discussion, which is not a goal on his own but which allows sometimes to remove traditional barriers. This distribution process is the most essential point. It contributes to assure a recognition for the group, to motivate the group members and to guarantee the fact that the effort made isn't fruitless. Of course, Zorobabel, at the same time producer, receives recognition for every short film produced but every co-filmmaker of the films of the Collective Workshop can legitimately claim his participation in the project. And this, even when the distribution of the short film is small and stays within the circle of the viewers of the festivals and within late evening television broadcastings.

 

  FUNDING

 

When the films are distributed, they receive money. There are the festival awards, the broadcastings on television, the screening before the main film in the cinema theatres, an edition on DVD and the royalties. All these earnings are exclusively meant for the production of the films of the Collective Workshop. It wouldn't be attainable to divide the money between the different participants if you take into account that there are many participants (for "Bluebeard" there were 80 participants, if we had divided the money, everybody would have received a ridiculous amount of money disregarding that
we have to subtract the work of the accountancy) and that there is no objective criterion to establish a right division in function of the contributions of everyone. For this reason, there has been a decision to use this money exclusively and only for the production of films of the Collective Workshop, knowing that the financial sources are not abundant: the financing is mainly received from various permanent education services and youth services (on regional, federal and European level).
One time, we received the support of the cultural sector, cinema office, but the production configuration that we apply, i.e. more specifically a project in a team, and with amateurs, is not really within the scope of their selection criterion, it is not only the quality of the film that is judged. On the contrary, this same cinema office has already awarded three prices for the films made by the Collective Workshop. So there is, from the part of the cultural circle and because of the bond, a kind of recognition for the work outside the scope of a strict social circle. .

Collective or amateur's films don't enter in the criterions of this cinema subventions strategy. This is due to the fact that the public authorities prefer to promote short films made by a promising young filmmaker, who one day will direct a feature film, that one day will shine at international festivals. This cultural policy is therefore a foreign affairs policy, comparable with the sports policy. It figures that our method doesn't fit in their cinema subventions strategy.

Concerning the royalties, the associations that manage the copyrights are not used to function in that kind of way. If the associations had to divide the copyrights among every member of the Collective Workshop, they would have made an impossible and arbitrary calculation, that doens't reflect the reality. It is impossibly to clearly determine who has done what, who gave this or that idea and in what proportion. In the traditional cinema, the distinction between whether you are the director or not doesn't reflect the complexity of the genesis of a creation. The screenwriter, the filmmaker and the musician are seen as the directors.

A lot of creators have an important role in the composition of the film. A lot of times, the storyboarder has to imagine the shooting, the framing, the point of view, acting, the settings and the accessories: this work is comparable with the work of comic book artist. In the same way, the animator of an animated puppet film has the role of a director, while he takes the dramaturgy and the psychology of the characters into account. This also goes for the scenography, the layouts, the clothes, the editing and the cinematography that determine the esthetical aspect of the film. .
A particular agreement has been written and has been drawn up in order to use the copyrights to finance the films made by the Collective Workshop. In this way, the Collective Workshop partly auto-finances itself.

 

  FILMOGRAPHY

 

"Barbe Bleue"

1. "Bluebeard", by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, colour, 15’, 2000)
Bluebeard, a rich and powerful man, marries a young girl, Ariane, who becomes his seventh wife. One day he leaves on a journey and he forbids Ariane to enter in his secret room while he is away… This cruel and spectacular story, based on the psychotic main character (within a heavy sexual dimension), privileges an equivocal image of the serial killer before his time: the man is at the same time seductive, fascinating and terrifying. An additional dimension is added to his horrifying behaviour which partly explains his morbid mania to keep the corpses of his previous wives : Bluebeard's secret cabinet room, which was called "a curiosity cabinet" in the 18th century. This implies a kind of personal museum of collected weird objects, relevant for the natural history or for the cryptozoology. The real heroine in this story is Ariane, his young wife. She accomplishes a preparatory circuit that will take away her first innocence.
Award Cinergie ' on the 20th 'Festival du dessin animé et du cinéma d'animation' of Brussels, 2001.
Mention (for animation) on the 23th 'Festival du Court métrage Media 10/10' of Namen, 2001.
Quality bonus, Centre of cinema and audiovisual, French community.

"Le petit théâtre mécanique"
2. "The little mechanical theatre", by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, colour, 7’30'', 2002) In a departement store, a little mechanical theatre plays continiously 'Hansel and Gretel' in a musical-style. Thomas, a ten-year-old boy, is obliged to see this looping show while his parents go shopping. Bored by the repetition of the fairy tale, he imagines a different version, in which the parents get a proper dressing-down … The film is the opposite of the logic of fairy tales: these stories are told to children every night, before they go to bed. They are written in order to keep a social division in which the parents keep their role of benevolentprotector even when it is a story like this in which the parents abandon their children in a forest. Thomas, who also is abandonned in a way by his parents, fabricates a new version of this story on abandoned children.
Award for 'best short movie' on the 24th festival of the independant film, Brussels, 2002.
Jacques Tati award. Public award on the 6th filmfestival of Vendôme, France>, 2002.
Qualitybonus, Centre of cinema and audiovisual, French community, 2003
Mention 'Cinergie' on the 23the Anima , Brussels, 2003
Sabam award on the 23the Anima , Brussels, 2003
Audience award for the animation- audiovisual contest,Lille, France,2003
Special award of the jury of the Mowcos International Children's animation films festival, Goldfish, Moscow, Russia, 2003
>Mention Spéciale du Jury du FIKE 2004, Évora Int. Short Film Fest., catégorie d'Animation, Portugal, 2004.
"Le complot de famille"

3. "The family plot", by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, colour, 6’ 00'', 2003)
A paranoid schizophrenic will push the conspiracy logic up against the wall. The only character in the film stages his own life by manipulating life-sized puppets that represent his family members. His gestures reflect those of the animator, which in turn give life to the puppets of a stop motion film.
Coup de coeur au 5ème Festival du Film Court francophone de Vaulx-en-Velin, France, 2005.
"Jan Hermann"

4. "Jan Hermann", by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, colour, 9’ 00'', 2004)
This film is a documentary. We dive into the golden years of silent movie in Hollywood. A big star, Jane Clark, is shown on every billboard. She makes her debut in a film made by Frank Liebermann, "the mysteries of NY", that attracts a crowd to the cinema every night. Mysteriously, Jane Clark disappears from the set, while she is in the glory days of her filming career and when the sound pictures are introduced. Fifty years later, in 1979 in Saint-Croix-sur-mer, a little town in Normandie, we attend the interment of Jan Hermann, an old Dutch immigrant. His neighbours say that he was a man without a past, even when he talked a little about his past. Nobody could imagine that Jan Hermann takes a secret with him to the grave. His son, Daniel Hermann, discovers, by sorting out his father's things, an unimaginable story.
Prime à la qualité, Centre of cinema and audiovisual, French Community, 2004.
'Grand Prix Anima 2004' de la Communauté Française, Bruxelles, 2004
Prix du public - Rencontres Audiovisuelles, Lilles, France, 2003.
Prix du meilleur scénario au festival "Le court en dit long", Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles, Paris, France, 2004.
Prix spécial du jury au 26ème “Festival du film indépendant", Bruxelles, 2004.
transit

5. "Transit", by the Collective Workshop (HD, colour, 23’ 30'', 2005)

'Transit' is a documentary (running time 26 minutes) based on the testimonies of refugees (Turkish, Congolese, Colombian, Iranian) and also on persons who give their opinion on the issue of new migrations, including Olivier Maerens of the Alien's Office and Pierre - Arnaud Perrouti from MRAX. All the meetings are illustrated in animation and are enforced by various scenes that give a more general outline on the issue. Almost all the existing techniques of the animated films are used in this film: animated cartoons, stop motion (i.e. puppets with movable limbs), bas relief animation stand, pixillation, Flash, CGI, composition, animated paint, rotoscopy, digital imaging.
Prix de la presse au festival Media 10/10, Namur, 2005.
O


6. "Otomi", by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, couleur, 10’ 00'', 2006)
Adaptation of a short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The story takes place in a Tokyo neighbourhood in 1868, when the army has evacuated this part of the city. It is about to invade the streets to drive out the rebels, hostile to the reforms of the japanese government. In one of these deserted streets flooded by the rain a tramp appears, Shinko, who hides from the downpour in the private part of the shop. He is greeted by Kuro the house cat, who seems to know him. A young servant girl shows up...
Grand-Prix Award at the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Competition 2006, Imari, Japon.
Prime à la qualité, Centre du cinéma et de l'audiovisuel, Communauté Française, 2006

Le diagrame du migrant
7. "The refugee diagram" by the Collective Workshop (Flash, colour, 2'00'', 2007)
In two minutes, a diagram describes the different possibilities for a refugee.

8. "Déjà vu" by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, colour, 19 ’ 57'', 2008)
It all begins just like a classical thriller ; an ex-cop investigator, some gangsters, a fatal beauty, a dirty cop. But, very soon, the hero dies and comes back to life and suddenly everything turns mad.
O
9. "Kill the surfers" by the Collective Workshop (HD, colour, 3 ' 23'', 2009)
Music clip on a music by Ghinzu. In a factory we follow the life of various pieces of rubbish that will undergo an astonishing metamorphosis step by step.
Prix du jury "Jeunes" section "video clip" au 2è Fest. int. du court métrage d'animation de Roanne, France, 2011.
O
10. "The Ghinzu case"by the Collective Workshop (HD, colour, 16' 20'', 2010)
Animated film report on the 'Ghinzu' affair. After the disappearance of John Stargasm, the band’s singer, journalist Thomas Lanvers, with a camera on his shoulder, follows the evolution of the band after hiring a new singer, Monroe Charles, a childhood friend of John’s. the document presented to the audience is a DV cassette found by the police and shown in its entirety without any editing.
"Run with the wolves"

11."Kimiko" by the Collective Workshop (HD, colour, 3' 23'', 2011)
Music clip on a music by F.aBot

kin

12. "Kin" by the Collective Workshop (35 mm, colour, 11' 00'', 2011)
Kin is a social photography of Kinshasa, made with african-style toys.
Grand-Prix de la Communauté française, Anima 2011, Bruxelles.
Prix de la Rtbf, Anima 2011, Bruxelles.
Mention spéciale au fest. "Le Court en dit Long", Centre W-Bxl, Paris, 2011.
Prix de la meilleure animation, Arouca Film Festival 2011, Arouca, Portugal, 2011.
Prix "Collège au cinéma" au 23ème festival Travelling à Rennes, France, 2012.
"Prix du public" au 23ème festival Travelling à Rennes, France, 2012.
Mention spéciale au 23èmefestival Travelling à Rennes, France, 2012.
Prix de la meilleure animation au 10ème FIKE, Evora, Portugal, 2012.

Ghinzu

13. "Pigmaleón" by the Collective Workshop (HD, colour, 4' 45'', 2011)
'Pigmaleón' is a film about movement in animation and in danse. With the performer Emmanuelle Vincent from the t.r.a.n.s.i.t.s.c.a.p.e company and a music by Jorge Piquer.

qjep

14-66. "When I was a kid, I thought that" , by the Atelier Collectif (HD, couleur, 52 X 45'', 2013)
'When I was a kid, I thought that...' is a series about children's beliefs.

naoto

67."No-go zone" by the Collective Workshop (DCP, couleur, 5'00'', 2014)
'No-go zone' chronocles the daily life of the last man remained in the red zone after the evacuation of the Fukushima area and the nuclear power plant accident.


       
Atelier Collectif 2000-2003 Atelier Collectif 2004-2008 Atelier Collectif 2009-2011 Atelier Collectif 2012
"Atelier Collectif 2000-2003"
DVD Pal, Multizone
couleur,stereo, 45'00
isbn 978-2-930356-53-2

12,00 €
inclus :
"Barbe Bleue", "Le petit théâtre mécanique", "Le complot de famille", "Jan Hermann" & "Tout jeune garçon"

"Atelier Collectif 2004-2008"
DVD Pal, Multizone
couleur, stereo, 60'00
isbn 978-2-930356-54-9
12,00 €
inclus :
"Transit", "Otomi", "Le diagramme du migrant" & "Déjà vu"

"Atelier Collectif 2009-2011"
DVD Pal, Multizone
couleur, stereo, 52'00
isbn 978-2-930356-82-2
12,00 €
inclus :
"Kill the surfers", "L'affaire ghinzu", "Kimiko", "Kin", "Pigmaleón" & "Des cailloux plein les poches"

"Atelier Collectif 2012"
DVD Pal, Multizone
couleur, stereo, 39'00
12,00 €
inclus :
"Quand j'étais petit, je croyais que"

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