Some couple fight and bicker like cats and dogs, but in Chilean director Fernanda Frick’s 18-minute short film, one married couple literally is a cat and a dog.
The film, called Here’s The Plan, is about a charming yet all-to-real story of two newlyweds who quickly find out that married life is no walk in the park. Its synopsis reads:
“A married cat-dog couple of cupcake bakers dream of opening their own bakery. One day their oven breaks and they have to postpone their dream in order to earn money and replace it. Somewhere down the line, they drift apart from their dream and from themselves.”
Made by a team of 32 artists over a span of two years, the short is visually-stunning, intimate, and heartwarming. It not only depicts a realistic perspective of love and relationships, but also shows how important good communication and compromise are.
Here’s The Plan is definitely something that every person in a committed relationship can relate to – and hopefully learn something learn a thing or two from.
We spoke to Fernanda Frick to find out more about Here’s The Plan.
What was the inspiration behind Here’s the Plan?
“I wanted to see on screen a couple that acted as a team and equals, not the usual representation, which is long-term couples who seem to hate each other. Like being married or being in a relationship is the worst thing that can happen to you. I think that’s dangerous because it makes you feel that being in a bad and unhappy relationship is normal and expected.
“Also, I didn’t want to follow the usual sexist stereotypes of the hysteric wife and useless husband that get accompanied with that. But mostly it’s about not being able to control and plan everything, but staying true to who you are, and that can help you achieve your goals even if you get derailed along the way.”
The film was so heartwarming and relatable. Please tell us more about how you developed such an emotionally powerful story.
“Thank you! Hmmm, it was a lot of rewriting actually! Everything started with a rough sketch I made one day, of a very stylish cat and a messy dog, who were hugging each other. They seemed to be opposites but that they loved each other very much.
“With that base, I started to invent a story around them. It was very hard getting to the first draft of the story because it encapsulated a long period of time in the life of a couple (like, one of the first rules of what NOT to do when making a short), and didn’t knew how to tackle it.
“So, I wrote a rough outline and storyboarded it roughly in one go. Solving the story visually first really helped me to have a starting point, so I wrote that storyboard into the first draft of the script, then re-wrote that like five times, then made the first version of the storyboard and animatic which was re-written and re-boarded like two to three times each scene.
“At the core of it, it was the intention that the protagonists always had to feel that they loved each other, even when they were almost divorcing. There was no room for cynicism, and it was hard to maintain the good-spirited nature of the story, when the usual expectation from the audience is that ‘yeah, married couples always hate each other’.”
Another thing we loved about the film is its animation. Could you take us through the creative process behind the animation?
“To be honest, I’m not a fan of CG animation as something to make myself. I only enjoy the process of layout, texture painting, and character animation, so I wanted to create a stylized CG, similar to what artist David O’Reilly does.
“So I decided I wanted to mix these cute cartoony animals with live-action cinematic elements like cinematic lightning, an anamorphic aspect ration and shallow depth of field. My technical team, especially Carlos Ahumada (CG Supervisor) and Rosario Laso (Lead Lighter) were able to translate my concept art and thoughts into reality!
“Especially with lightning, since it was so stylized, I had to sketch on top of a frame of each shot, for Rosario to use as reference, and she always was able to match it perfectly! Even if sometimes the lighting didn’t made sense in reality, it helped achieve and enhance the emotions of the film.”
The film says so many things about love, ambition, and sacrifice. But for you personally, what message stands out the most in the film?
“I think it’s probably ‘it’s never too late’? Even if you stray off your path, you can try to go back to it and try to do what you love even if it’s been years.
“Also, I think that I was successful in creating a couple on screen that really seemed like they loved each other, and acted as a team, which I’d like them to bring hope to those who feel that they are never going to find love or feel happy in their current relationships.”
What’s your best advice on how to tell a good story?
“I think it’s to be true to yourself and what you believe in. I mean, what’s the point of creating a ‘perfect story’, structure-wise, if it doesn’t reflect what you want to say as a storyteller?
“In the film, I took many decisions that probably weren’t the ‘right’ ones by the book, but at the end of the day, I’m happy with my choices because I was able to convey what I wanted to communicate.”
What’s next for you? How do you plan to top Here’s the Plan?
“I want to switch over to bigger projects. I’m currently developing a TV series. Short films are great, but are not, in their essence, made for massive consumption. And what I want is to reach many people with my stories, and try to change the status quo in terms of what we see on screen, so that’s why I’ll try to switch to series and features.”