Today, we are continuing on our series, where we are talking with the animators of the Sundance Film Festival 2021, and today we have animators, Rosemary Vasquez Brown and Sara Hirner, and they are the directors and animators behind the short GNT.
It’s so great to get to talk with both of you. And so what I wanted to ask first is, how did you two meet and become collaborators on this project?
SH: Rosemary and I met at university; we went to the University of Technology, Sydney, UTS. And at first, I don’t think we were very close or friendly, but we took an elective in Japan, through the university and ended up staying together and became really good friends. We ended up doing so many projects together and ended up coming up with GNT there.
So you spent like a semester abroad in Japan together?
RVB: It was like only two weeks, but that’s how long it took for us to fall in love…
Were you just randomly assigned together as roommates?
RVB: I just met her and I was like, “Oh God, I didn’t have any accommodation,” and she was very lovely and was like, “I’ll organize a bed for you at the Airbnb.”
SH: It was so awkward as well because I didn’t have a spare bed in the accommodation that we had booked, but I was so non-confrontational that I ended up messaging the Airbnb and asked them if they could put a mattress in for us
Well, hey, it all worked out! In the end. The more the merrier, right? So how did you get involved in animation? And was that something that you’d always wanted to do or how did that end up happening?
RVB: For me, yeah, it was… I’ve always loved to draw, and I guess I didn’t even realize that there was a place in Sydney to study animation, and it wasn’t until my final year in high school that it came up as an option at UTS. So I applied for it… At the time I had no knowledge of any animation programs. I knew a bit of Photoshop, but that was it. I was very much fresh.
SH: I definitely didn’t want to be an animator or I didn’t know anything about animation either. I liked drawing a lot, and I liked movies… But I didn’t really wanna even go to university, and my mom found the animation course and was like, “Maybe you’d enjoy this?” Like Rosemary, I went into it very, very blind and didn’t even enjoy animating for the first year. I found it really challenging, but once I met Rosemary and was over the technical hump, exploring my own ideas, I think I really found where I wanted to be in animation.
So where did the idea for this short, GNT, come from? Are you super active in social media; is that how you got the idea?
RVB: Well, a bit, it reflects a lot of our own world ’cause it is 3 characters that are similar to our own age, but we started developing it in third year of Uni, ’cause one of the projects was to develop a pitch bible or a pitch deck for a broadcasting network and stuff. And so, we started developing characters from there and stories and comics all about them, and we really fell in love with the idea, and so from there we had the opportunity to do a year, where we made a film, and we decided to keep on that idea.
SH:The initial inspiration was a lot of conversations we were having with friends, and it was also just the ways that we validated each other. We often validated things that were totally abnormal or pretty gross, and the social media aspect of it probably came second to that. But I felt like it was a great way to exaggerate those stories and those conversations.
So are Glenn, Nikki, and Tammy, (those are the three main characters of GNT). Are they based on anybody in particular?
SH: Visually, yes. Glenn, when we initially started designing the character, we knew we wanted her to be curvy, and we sort of knew how we wanted her to look, like to be really visually appealing and Rosemary was sitting in front of me, so that was pretty easy to draw….
RVB: I look, yeah, very much like her.
SH: I think we liked that the other 2 characters, their bottom shapes would complement Glenn’s body shape; everything in the GNT world sort of works around Glenn, but personality-wise is awful.
Now, the short is, I would say on the vulgar side, and is that something that was your experience with social media or just kind of your personalities?
RVB: There’s no limits to what people will share on social media, and we overshare way too much now, and especially like being together all the time, we find that we’re discussing by ourselves, and it’s like slowly creeping out to every other relationship, even if it’s online. And so, yeah, the vulgarity follows us everywhere, it seems.
SH: I don’t think we over-shared on social media as much, but I think we also fell into a trap of listening to these like unqualified advice podcasts and seeing people on social media who were sharing the kinds of things that we would share together in private on social media. That was interesting for us as well and sort of addictive
So what made you pick the color palette that you did? It’s very purple, black and white, kind of a color palette?
RVB: We struggled a lot with [the] color palette. We were gonna do it in full color originally. And then we found ’cause we originally started making comics that it had a really raw illustrative style to it. We wanted to strip it back and not lose that so much. We found the monochromatic palette really helped liven it up!
And who did you get to do the voices? Of the three?
RVB: We had a bit of a problem with the voice actors at one point. We had a guy playing the main character at first. And then it was like the day it came to recording ’cause we stuffed up sound for recording ’cause we’re simple animators and don’t know how to do sound. And so we had to re-record, and the day we had to re-record, our main voice actor couldn’t come. So we had a girl at our university who had the same vibe as Glenn, as a character, and we were like, “Do you wanna do it?” And she was amazing, like she ad-libbed on the day. She was completely Glenn; she became Glenn. She’s, yeah.
SH: Can we add in that Izzy was, doesn’t have the same vibe as Glenn in terms of being awful?
RVB: Sorry, yeah. LOL.
SH: She’s a lovely person. And would not trash talk on social media.
Is your main goal in this short to get people to laugh, or are you hoping they’ll walk away with something deeper or more?
SH: I think it’s both. I think the main aim is just for people to giggle. I think that usually makes you think deeper anyway. A lot of the time, in this short at least, the audience is laughing at the characters and also at themselves. We’ve spoken to people afterwards that do relate to the characters and relate to their sort of absurd vanity and also the pressures and contradictions of being a woman in today’s day and age. But, if you just laugh, that’s fine too. You don’t have to think too deeply about it.
RVB: That’s really what we like about it. Like on face value, you can just be like three young girls having a good time, being silly. And then other times you’ll be like, “Oh my god, that’s me; I have to rethink everything.”
Thank you so much for coming to talk with us, and congratulations on your short.
We would like to thank both Rosemary and Sara for talking with us and you can reach both on their instagrams and get all the updates on GNT.
Edited by: Kelly Conley