Interview with ValOne

After creating a Youtube channel with more than 150,000 subscribers and making more than 35 million views, ValOne co-launched at 21 years old a startup called "Koudetat". It is a platform that aims to help people with entrepreneurship. At 22, he decided to leave this startup to start more personal projects. A few months later, he created augmented reality filters on Instagram that will quickly went viral. Today his filters have been viewed more than 500 Million times around the world, he has been invited by Facebook among the best filter creators on the planet. Now he is working internationally across animation films, video games, music, and virtual experiences.

Could you briefly describe your project for our audience?
The Last Star is an animated Sci-Fi short film set in the year 7437. A mysterious ancient civilization is destroying all the stars in the sky. One of their agents is about to destroy the last one - a beautiful blue star.

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What were your main aspirations or goals when creating this project?
My goal with this project was to show that real-time animation with Unreal Engine 5 is a technical revolution and that will change the way we approach animation and storytelling. Filmmaking is no longer an elite club like it was a hundred years ago. It's now available to everyone. Anyone can create the story they want to tell. You can download all of these free software, learn everything you want about it, create something that no one has ever created before, and publish it on this gigantic free distribution platform that is the Internet. There are no more excuses for those who want to tell ambitious stories.



Share some memorable moments from the shooting process or any pleasant surprises.
The most memorable memory I have is the marriage of animation and simulation, specifically with my character's robe. I started by doing all the animations of my character (different walks, taking off his hood, going up in the vertical tunnel, etc.), and after all that work, I had to simulate the robe, so that it would match the exact movement of my character. Once my simulation work was done for each animation, I had to import it back into Unreal and test it on all of my scenes, but a lot of them were not responding as well as I thought they would, so I had to reanimate almost all of those scenes to match the robe simulation and then simulate the robe again. I had this back-and-forth iteration process until I got everything working the way I wanted it to look. It was very long and painful, but in the end, I got a great result that makes all the difference when you see it. And as you know, pain is temporary, film is forever.

When I finally finished the first version of the short film, I remember showing it to a few selected people and the magic was seeing their eyes go wide! That moment was worth every minute of the struggle.



Who is the primary target audience for your film, and what do you hope they will take away from it?
My long-term goal is to make animated films for the general public. But right now, it's not an easy task. In the western world, animation is still perceived by the general public as something made for children, with characters that are mostly sentient toys or talking animals. That's why I decided to start with a strong science fiction short film with big philosophical challenges.
Another goal is to inspire other people to try animation if they want to. As Roland Barthes said, every writer's dream is to write a book that continues to write in the minds of its readers. And I'd like to create works that continue to create in the minds of people, giving them in turn the desire to create and surpass themselves.

What makes your project an appealing choice for potential distributors?
This is just the beginning of what we can do with animation, and that is the most exciting part! It's a new form of medium with so much to explore and discover. The possibilities are endless. It's a medium that's only going to grow in the coming years. It offers the opportunity to create deep stories with powerful visuals that audiences have never seen before.
We're also at a moment in history where technology is allowing small teams to make movies that are on the same level as the ones you see in theaters, with smaller budgets than ever before. I'm confident in the fact that in the next few years, we'll see feature-length movies in 3D animated films and that these films will make a huge profit compared to what they cost.

What inspired you to pursue a career in filmmaking?
It happened a few years ago in Paris. I was with a great friend of mine, and after many discussions about technology and the future, we happened to watch the Unity animated short film "Adam". It blew my mind. I remember specifically saying to myself: This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Do you have a filmmaker or source of inspiration who has influenced your work?
Gaspard Noé and Nicolas Winding Refn have always inspired me with their color work and radicality. I also find a lot of inspiration in the work of Andreï Tarkovsky. And I would also like to mention Alberto Mielgo and Sava Zivkovic, who are working on on bold animated feature films. I strongly believe that these guys are going to open the doors and push back the boundaries of what we can do right now. They have the potential to expand the horizons of animation forever.

Share a couple of your favorite films and what resonates with you about them.
Tarkovsky's films are always an extraordinary experience for me. I always find it fascinating to watch one of his films and realize that he is able to create works of such profound meaning through the medium of cinema. His work always reminds me that it's impossible to fit artistic creation into a Procrustean bed of formal laws that would last forever.

Where do you typically find inspiration for your film projects?
I try to avoid movies as a source of inspiration as much as possible, although it's almost impossible (laughs). Science fiction comics are a great way for me to imagine new structures and designs that are fresh. If you can mix it with other references you have, you are well on your way to creating something new.