I love VincentThe experimental animated film about the life of Vincent van Gogh, which received an Oscar nomination in 2018, was a stunning creative achievement that pushed new cinematic boundaries.
In addition, the production was very complex.
Shot with a live-action cast in front of a green screen onto which Van Gogh’s paintings were later added, the film was edited together as usual, but afterward each of its 65,000 images were hand-painted in oil by a team of 125 artists across the world. In total, it took around a decade to complete, with Hugh Welchman – who co-directed with his wife DK Welchman – claiming at the time that they had without a doubt “invented the slowest form of filmmaking ever invented in 120 years.” ”
After undergoing and completing such an intense surgery – and even earning an Oscar nomination for it – many might have thought about toning things down a bit for the follow-up surgery. Not Welchman and DK, who decided to turn the dial up even further for their (almost) fully painted follow-up The farmers.
“I love Vincent was nothing compared to that The farmers“It was a whole new level of slowness and complexity,” says Hugh Welchman. While I love Vincent included four pictures per painter per day, e.g The farmersit was “barely two frames,” with the level of difficulty that many of the artists used I love Vincent actually resign. “So we had to bring in a whole new level of painting experts to achieve this very dynamic, realistic style that is much more difficult to paint.”
Bowing as a special presentation in Toronto, The farmers is an adaptation of Władysław Reymont’s Nobel Prize-winning novel of the same name, which DK says was “required reading” in high school in their native Poland (where they both live and have an animation studio). Divided into four parts, they depict a season from the life of farmers in a Polish village at the beginning of the 20th centuryTh In the 19th century, the story is about a beautiful girl who marries a widowed landowner and at the same time has a burning love for her son.
DK hadn’t particularly enjoyed the novel as a teenager, but as he worked on it, he picked it up again I love Vincent, listen to the audio book and paint one of the frames. “And it touched me much deeper – it’s literally like something painted with words, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for our painted animation style,” she says.
For Welchman, whom DK urged to read The farmers Upon its later rediscovery, he considered it the “greatest book about farmers I have ever read” and said he was thrilled that there had not been a contemporary adaptation. “Also, I read it in 2018 and realized that the problems are the same as today and that we have not moved forward since then The farmers. And then the world became (even) more conflicted, and we went in a much more right-wing direction.”
Production, which began in 2020 (the concept trailer was created in 2019), was itself heavily influenced by contemporary concerns. First, live-action filming had to be paused twice due to COVID, with some of the big fight scenes – involving 60 actors and 12 horses – pushed back to 2021. Then the painting process, which began in 2021, was affected by the war in Ukraine, where they happened to have one of their studios.
“When the war broke out, most of the artists came here to Poland as refugees to work in our studio. It went super smoothly and we were able to set them up very quickly,” says Welchman. However, most of the male painters had to stay behind as the Kiev studio was closed, then reopened in late 2022 and a generator was later sent to deal with power outages. “So yeah, we had a lot of problems.”
In the end, the original plan was to have a quarter of it The farmers Painted in Ukraine, only about 10 percent was done there, much of the art created by the refugees who came to Poland.
“And they were incredibly positive – everyone else had been complaining about hyperinflation, and then these guys came with their backpacks and were so happy to be there,” says Welchman.
“They also changed the dynamic of the studio in terms of art and style, as their background in fine art is very traditional painting, and that was really something we needed,” says DK. “So they raised the level. And her work ethic was breathtaking.”
In total, 100 different oil painters in four different countries (Poland, Serbia, Ukraine and Lithuania) worked on the project, along with 78 people in the digital department.
not how I love Vincent, in which each individual image was painted, they adopted what Welchman calls the “original Disney style” and had the “intermediate images” drawn by digital artists. “If we had done it the same way I love Vincent“We would have done that by 2025,” he claims.
The actual number of oil paintings is approximately the same I love Vincent at 56,000, but with the digital element the total number of drawn images increases to a staggering 72,000.
“And the average oil-painted frame took four hours per painter to make,” notes Welchman. “But we had several painters who did shots that lasted more than six months… and then we had to pay for their therapy.”