Roda Na is a character artist & filmmaker who won in student short of Robinson Film Awards 2021 with her debut film “Larvae Story”. She is from South Korea and currently taking an MFA in 3D Animation & VFX at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication Design at Korea National University of Arts in 2018. Officially, she has worked as a package designer at an LA-based food distribution company and as a manager of design projects at a mobile contents company until 2021, but she has personally created character artwork through illustrations. She started to make her animation film with her creative characters under her artistic mission to spread a culture of admiring others. Aside from her career as a visual artist, she studied voice acting for 5 years.

Hi Roda Na, nice to meet you and thanks for granting us this interview.

How was born your passion for the world of cinema?

I think my big interest in character creation began to bring my passion for the world of cinema. As a character artist, looking at my character that becomes alive has been always an amazing dream and thrilling experience. So I started to embark on infusing life into them and giving them their own story. For my next projects, I will focus on the psychological situation of the figure and its unique appearance representing their personality with a narrative story.  Attempts to make characters as 3D, stop motion puppets and real humans are on my future plan.

What about your passion for the Animation Genre, there is a particular movie that inspired you?

Cult-flowing animations inspired me a lot.  Especially, Sally Cruickshank’s “Quasi at the Quackerdero” that developed a cult flowing fascinated me with its surreal imaginations. Quirky and bizarre animated images coming from “Rick and Morty”, “Adventure Time”  also have remained in my memory so strongly. Weird motions including characters acting in animations are usually designed to imply metaphors that could be psychologically interpreted and that stimulate the audiences to feel something more than the real world. I also want to be an animation artist who is dedicated to developing unique aesthetics supported by metaphors.

How would you describe your RFA Winning Short Film “Larvae Story”?

“Larvae Story” is a four-minute-long stop motion animation illustrating larvae’s struggle to live. Larvae are residing in a dust world. They have built their advanced world. Even if larvae don’t have wings, they could fly by using technology. Larvae search for a way to beat the perpetual dust storms that have bothered them. A severe dirt storm starts to hit the town! Larvae decide to bounce the dirt off through their machinery and dance with lights & fans as a ritual of sublimation like a party.

I tried to depict “larvae” as complete existences that evolve and agonize, not as undeveloped ones that could not transform into butterflies. By depicting “larvae” as the main characters, I stand up for human beings who are dealing with the ever-changing life that is weighty, complicated, but exciting.

How long does it take to do a stop motion movie?

It took me about 7 months to finish up through all pipelines. Preproduction and setting up the concept took me about a month. Building the background, making the puppets, and taking most of the main scenes happened during the next two months. After that, I started a full-time job at a mobile contents company, so I had to replenish the absent scenes once I came back home from work. Shooting lacking scenes proceeded slowly for 4 months. Editing and shooting were processed almost simultaneously. To say some off-topic, as I did not have extra space for production, I had to take away the mattress from my room and put that in the living room for 6 months to secure enough room.

Tell us about the characters of “Larvae Story” and their design.

The idea of stop motion character larvae stemmed from my old characters, trivial friends larva & dust. I was going to make omnibus cartoon stories about small existences such as ant, snack crumb, booger, having main combi characters larva & dust. I had wanted to stretch their story showing how they cherish and love each other in the gigantic world that is usual for us, but that could seem unrealistic in their view. But desire to get across my message through something more impressive form popped into my mind. After I decided to make stop motion animation with larvae and dust, I focused on larvae as main characters and designated dust as the world that larvae live in. I’d like to depict eyes as windows that reflect another world. This time I put all different fusion graphics inspired by Korean traditional patterns on the single larvae to give them aesthetic identity. I intentionally used tin-pot materials like stationery beads(: for larvae) and recycled props(: for dust world) to mean that even if our life might not be always built with flashy things, still the whole life and ourselves are complete and attractive.

What are the main ingredients to create a good movie?

First, the thrill that comes from imagining finished amazing scenes being played in my brain.
The second, the Reason that motivates me to do art. For me, this is to admire people and their life.
Third, the belief that I will create and finalize my movie successfully regardless of any kind of obstacles.

What are your future projects?

This year, I am planning to make a 60-70 minutes narrative movie when it comes to a girl who regards herself as an alien. This will be my first attempt to use real humans as artistic characters by applying a type of special effects makeup to the performer. I will try to insert short stop motion scenes in the movie. After this project, a 15-minutes-long short stop motion animation using an advanced skill with 3D background is on my consideration as my third film.

Any final thoughts at the end of this interview?

From this experience of being a winner in student short of the Robison Film Award 2021, I am grateful that I could get more power and confidence to continue my animation making. As an artist who is eager to improve my films that a lot of people can relate to, I appreciate this festival for giving me the opportunity. I wish the artists pouring their soul into their work and the members of the Robison Film Award will achieve what they have dreamed of!