Sarina Nihei is a talented animator and illustrator living in Tokyo. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London with an MA in animation, Nihei embarked on a freelance animating career and has continued to impress over the past year with her short films.
One such short we fell in love with was Small People With Hats. Sarina drew each scene for this stunning (and somewhat creepy) film, then used beautiful sound design to bring the whole story together.
We’ve loved watching Sarina’s efforts on Vimeo, so we asked her a few questions about her work and how she got into filmmaking.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? When did you decide you wanted to get into illustration/animation/directing?
‘I wanted to be a graphic designer when I was in high school. But the more designing skills I learned, the more I missed drawing by hand. Also, I wanted to have my own style that people cannot imitate easily so I ended up doing animation and illustration’.
Did you go to art school to learn animation? Were you inspired by other filmmakers in this decision?
‘I went to the art university in Tokyo where I studied graphic design. But there was the animation class as part of the programme where we basically had to make hand-drawn animation. But the teacher never taught us how to animate and everything. Instead, just showed us the finest animations all over the world. I think from that experience I’ve been fascinated with animation, especially those made by hand’.
We’re particularly smitten with Small People With Hats. Can you tell us about the creative process behind the film? It looks like it took a lot of time and effort to create!
‘I spent a long time thinking about the concept and storyboarding. But once I knew what I was going to do, every process became just routine, like animating, colouring, scanning, cutting paper, punching the paper etc.
‘The thinking part was the most difficult process but the production part was much better because you just need to produce things on schedule’.
What kind of themes do you love to create films about, and why?
‘I would say I don’t want to get away from despair in terms of filmmaking because you can’t avoid the death. So that would be an essential part in my films. But in reality, I don’t wanna see depressing films all the time so I’m trying to keep the balance between serious subjects and humour’.
We’re interested to see more of your work! What are you working on now?
‘I’m working on a couple of projects like a music video and web campaign. Also, I’ve just started my new short film’s storyboarding, which is hopefully going to be done by next November. But I’m still struggling to get the funding so I hope I can find some generous people soon’.