Bulgarian metal band Smallman collaborated with the director/ animator Velislava Gospodinova to create a soundtrack for her short film called The Blood. The film has been a big success and it was screened at more than 30 international film festivals. The Blood is “an appeal to society against terror, war and violence”. Smallman did a fantastic job in portraying the mood and motives as well as following the storyline. I was glad to hear how they stayed true to the genre and originality the band usually shows. What was also interesting to me was the collaboration between the band and the director.
We had a chance to talk with Smallman and Velislava Gospodinova about this collaboration and the film itself. Read below.
The music for this short film is brilliant. What was it like working with an animation director?
Thank you! It was really an inspiring experience for us as a band and artists. Normally we dive into the creative process involving only the 4 people in the band. This time, it was different. Velislava Gospodinova, the director, was our corrective. We started with a sheet of paper (again – not typical for us) and wrote what we need to express in every second of the movie. We were a little bit worried how she will react to the rough ideas that we prepared for her. The direction was good, but there was a lot of work with Vili – listening and telling what she needs. After all, she loved the ideas and it was fun to have her in the studio working with us on the final stage of the recordings. Of course she is an incredible artist who always knows what she wants. That made the whole process easier. The script was hers, she was the main animator and the director, and she was the person who knew how the things would look in the end.
Was this the first time for Smallman to participate in this kind of collaboration?
Yes it was our first time to work in such a manner. But that was one of the reasons that we were so excited about it. It wasn’t typical at all and it was a challenge. And another (probably the most important) detail – the symbolic meaning of the movie – it is amazing.
It’s not often that we get to see a metal band doing soundtracks. Can you describe the process of making The Blood, from a creative perspective?
The whole process was very interesting. We started to work on the music when we had the storyboard and some of the first versions of the animatic, the movie in its almost final version like time and important parts. Almost everything was cleared in advance, all the main scenes and moments were discussed with Velislava, the different moods and feeling that have to be represented. And then we began constructing the whole thing from the beginning, part by part and even gun shot by gun shot. We played the composition alongside the movie, watching it all the time and almost everything is recorded in that way, too. At the end you can say it was a fully functional song.
What can we expect from Smallman in the future?
Maybe it’s the perfect time to say that we are continuing our work with Velislavа. This time, the process is vice-versa. There is a ready composition, which undergoes changes – and the movie is following its direction. We expect the new movie to be ready in 2017. And of course – to participate in some of the major animation festivals in the next year. We are sure the spectators will be pleasantly surprised by the approach and the theme covered in this film but we don’t want to reveal too much at this stage.
Smallman is working on new songs. We hope to share some of them in late March. We are going on tour in April and May. We will visit Romania, Serbia (April17 in Novi Sad with Wolfram and Consecration) Greece, UK and of course we will have a gig at home.
Cheers to the Arctic Drones crew and readers. A big welcome to the Spring 🙂
Can you give us an insight into the main motives portrayed in The Blood?
The film aims to shock and attract the audience’s attention through the living depiction of The Blood, literally as much as abstract, and thus have a strong artistic impact. Provoked by the reality that surrounds us, I was inspired to make a film which let me express my personal position regarding violence, war and death, which are increasingly perceived as a routine and “normal” part of everyday life today, through the news and most of the products of the entertainment industry.
Blood is a symbol of life, and yet it seems to be more related to death, since it is spilled in vain, wasted carelessly, since people die and lose it, and while busy with destroying each other, they forget how precious it really is to them. Blood has its own existence, in which it seems to carry the spark of life, but, given too much freedom, it mutates into something uncontrollable and fatal. In this case it serves as a metaphor for human madness, which is growing more and more each day, turning the Earth and its inhabitants into its victims.
Did you have in mind a specific idea that you pitched to the band or did you work together on a concept for The Blood? What do you think about the collaboration with Smallman?
When I contacted Smallman, the production of the film was already in process. I had the story, the visuals and the animatic ready so I was able to pitch it quite well in front of the band. My first film “The Lighthouse” was also a strong asset as a proof for the future quality of the new film. They really liked the visual style and the idea behind it. I suppose that they decided that it would be a perfect match for their music style and specific intense atmosphere. So they agreed to become part of the team right away and we started the work on the music quite shortly after that.
Working on this kind of animation film, which is so tightly connected with the rhythm and the mood of the music is not an easy job. It’s always like going back and forth, changing constantly something in the music composition or in the editing of the animatic so at the end everything would start moving and feeling as one whole piece. We were working all the time together at rehearsals and in the studio. It was absolutely amazing for me to be able to be part of that process and to see how the pictures in my mind start to have their own distinctive and powerful sound. The creation of a piece of music is something really emotional and it needs really good vibes and good energy to make it happen. That is why I’m extremely happy that me and the boys clicked so well together on every level. Everybody was participating with ideas and discussions, but sometimes there were just sparks of momentary inspiration which contributed a lot to the final authentic and emotional sound.
I am really lucky to find these guys and to collaborate with them on this film. They brought something really special to the final result as much as in the making. It’s always great to work with people who are so attentive to every detail, who are so passionate and at the same time very seriously into their job. True professionals with huge talent and unadulterated sensitivity. Genuine people and amazing friends.
The Blood was screened at lots of film festivals and won several awards and nominations. What are your plans for the future?
We felt so well together, creating new artistic worlds with pictures and sound, that we decided to work on another project … together again. This time I was inspired by one of their compositions, which went through a lot of changes into the arrangement, but it’s still fully charged with the authentic ambient ethno powerful sound that comes straight from Smallman’s heart. The working title of the film is “Firebird” and it’s connected with the Slavic mythology not really as a storyline but more as metaphors and symbols.
The film is in production at the moment. The work is quite difficult and intense because the visual style and the animation technique are different from my previous two films. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s much easier having the right partners close to me. When it’s ready, it would be first submitted to festivals and later on it would be put again for public viewing on the internet.
We all hope strongly that it will have as big a success as the previous films did and that the audience will like it as much.