French director François-Xavier Goby talks about the making of the first tango CG animated short, "En Tus Brazos", which he created together with Edouard Jouret and Matthieu Landour at animation school Supinfocom Valenciennes.
How did the idea for the script come about?
The idea for the script came from a trip I made to South America, and to Argentina in particular. One night I was in Buenos Aires and I met this old tango aficionado who was 80 years old. After talking for a while, the old man suddenly said to me, “you know, I had more than 3000 women in my life”. “Well, that seems like a lot”, I said, but he insisted: “yes, yes, it’s true, I had 3000 women because every time I danced tango with a woman, I fell in love…” That’s how I realized the narrative power a tango dance has, and I decided to work together with my two friends, Edouard Jouret and Matthieu Landour, on this animation project.
Why did you choose the song “En Tus Brazos”, among other possible ones?
We decided to use “En tus brazos” because we wanted a tango with vocals for the first part of the film. This one in particular had all the intensity and emotion we were looking for, and in addition to that it gave us the name for the short!
FX, how did you start dancing tango?
Four years ago I lived in a small city in the southern part of France, and I wanted to do something besides studying. The only activity which seemed original enough was this tango course, taught by two French aficionados… That’s how I started, and I’m still dancing it.
The amount of research done for the film is impressive, as well as the cultural details it incorporates. How was this research done, and how long did it take?
Yes, we put a lot of work on those small details, we managed to obtain a good deal of documentation about tango, about the 1920s, “art nouveau” and “art déco” furniture, traditional suits, hairstyles from those years, jewels… The time spent on research and preparation previous to production took us 4 months. I also got help from Argentine friends, such as Lalo Rotaveria, from the cultural affairs office of the city of Buenos Aires. Thanks to him I had complete access and even permission to film the World Tango Championship, and I also received help to solve other issues such as getting the rights for the music, etc.
Where is the apartment of Jorge and Elba located, according to the film?
The apartment of Jorge and Elba is located in Buenos Aires, according to our imagination, but we didn’t choose a particular place for it.
Animating two tango dancers is no easy task, how did you prepare yourselves for that job? What reference material did you use?
First we worked with two Argentine tango dancers who live in Paris (Sebastián Misse and Andrea Reyero), thanks to whom we were able to analyze with precision the small details of the dance, each one of the movements and how they affect the body. Later on we used the references I filmed from the World Tango Championship, with the best dancers from around the world. Mixing all these data we created an original choreography for the short.
Tell us a bit about the aesthetic you chose for the film.
We had in mind the aesthetic used in Hollywood movies from the 1920s. We wanted to use a simple lighting scheme with a lot of contrast, which helps suggest more than what is revealed, and we tried to produce images similar to those old monochromatic photographs that have colors added later on. That is, over a base layer of sepia, we’ve laid touches of color (pink over the cheeks, red over the woman’s dress and some other colors in various elements…).