Only a good story, the timing and the humor can decide the success of a film: Bruno Bozzetto

An Italian cartoon animator,who created his first animated short Tapum! the weapons’ story in 1958 at the age of 20. His short animated feature Grasshoppers (Cavallette),  was a nominee for the Best Animated Short Oscar in the year 1990. This person is none other than Bruno Bozzetto, who is mainly know for his movies having a political or a satirical undercurrent. His most famous character, a hapless little man named Signor Rossi (Mr. Rossi), has been featured in many animated shorts. He was awarded  with the David di Donatello Special Award and Golden Bear Award for Best Short Film. The Italian Icon got in touch with’s Niyati Handa and spoke his heart out about his journey and the evolution of the animation industry.

What inspired you to take up animation when there was no scope for it at that time? 

Just the desire to communicate, I started with live action (8 mm films) but I soon discovered that how complicated it was to shoot a live action film without actors, technicians, light lamps, etc. I began to draw, as I always found it fascinating. My grandfather was a painter; so it was easier for me to manage the work. I started experimenting with animation, trying to learn from 16mm films on loan in Milan from USIS (United States Information Service). I loved Disney comics and Disney films (the only animated films that was possible to see in Italian cinemas at those times – 1945 to 1955) and that’s the reason I got into animation.

How has your journey been so far? 

In the beginning everything was terribly difficult. There were no books to read about animation, I was also not sure about from where to get the right material (cell, colours, camera, etc). The very few Italian studios that were already working in animation and producing some short commercial for theater were very insecure about giving information to other people, and I was just twenty years old.

The system of work that I adopted was very simple (also because I had not attended art schools and my school experience was traditional and classic), with many ideas and a very easy style, utilising animation just for explaining the story, the gags and being as functional as possible. The problem that I faced all these years and I am still facing is the children. I never did a film especially for children but always for a family audience. In Italy, especially in TV you can easily make good money and can produce serial, only “for” children. But I was always interested in the society, in the satire, human behavior, in pollution, in the wars, etc and this is not children’s material.

Talking about the techniques, I am glad that I got an opportunity to work in the middle of a technical revolution, and this allowed me to utilise both techniques in the best way possible. With the modern technologies I saved time and saw immediate result. After that I discovered Flash program in 1998, I did many films by using this medium. In the same time the internet completely changed the distribution world and allowed creative people to showcase their talent everywhere. At this point of life, I finally found myself satisfied with my life, my films and the decisions I made. Maybe living in the United States would have given me more freedom and breaks, but I’ve always preferred a system of craft work, where you have a small staff and you can take your decisions. 

Why do you focus on 2D animation in this 3D world? 

Because I think that 2D and 3D are the different sides of the same coin. And the coin is the story. 3D is richer, precise, technologically perfect, while 2D is more alive, fresh and artistic. Only a good story, the timing and the humor can decide the success of a film. And you can achieve this with 2D; you don’t need 3D for that.

Initially who funded your projects? 

In the beginning my father Umberto, a very important person in my life, motivated and supported me as a friend. He was my co-worker, resourceful and stimulating partner. He didn’t know anything about animation, but he had faith in me (as I was his only child) and helped me in building my first rostrum camera and helped me in setting up my first animation studio.

After a while the revenues from the commercials gave me the financial help and the possibility to produce my own films that also includes 3 long features West and Soda, Vi my brother superman and Allegro non troppo.

How do you market your ventures? 

At the beginning of my career I never thought about that. For many years nobody knew my work in Italy. I did a film (short films for years, till 1964), which was good, had original content and with a good background and this is how we found some distributors. My work attracted more distributors from other foreign countries than from Italy itself.

What projects are you working on currently, and your future plans? 

Now I consider myself officially “retired”… but I’m associated with “Bozzetto & Co” Studio, with my son Andrea and other partner Pietro PInetti. I’m always happy to give them a hand whenever they need my help. The Studio is doing many TV serials, educational films and also commercials. The Studio is working well, with over 35 artists working together on both 3D and 2D films. Personally, right now I am working on a short trailer for a possible ‘TV Special’, a story that I wrote with Nicola Ioppolo and Valentina Mazzola, some years ago. It’s in 2D and if we’ll find someone interested in the production, we’ll go on with this project. Otherwise it will remain… just a project. In Italy it is very, very difficult to find producers for animation, especially if the subject is not conceived only for a children’s audience, and this has been my principal problem all my life. That’s why I’m somehow pessimistic.

What is one thing which Italian animators can learn from Indian animators and vice-versa? 

Really I don’t know. It’s a difficult question. I don’t know much about Indian animation; I just know that your country has wonderful technical and artistic services in the fields of animation production. I just saw the trailer of Arjun – The warrior prince; it was very well made and interesting. Even though our storytelling’s style is completely different from spectacular, emotional and super technological films as this one, I appreciate all good films and a good story.

Any tip you would like to give to young animators? 

Just one: love your work because animation is one of the most exciting and interesting industry in the world. No other work can be as creative and timeless as thisJ.

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