While 3D animation films are rare in Bangladesh, a climate-based project has accelerated the way forward. That impactful film is called 'Tomorrow' and it won the monthly award for Best Animation Film at Cannes World Film Festival for August 2021.
In a recent chat with The Business Standard, director Mohammad Shihab Uddin spoke about their journey and the current situation of 3D animation in Bangladesh.
"Well, we often confuse this award with 'Cannes Film Festival'. But this is another festival in Cannes. However, for makers like us, every global reception is incredible," said Shihab.
He shared that he had been keeping his eyes on this award.
The competition has different rounds like selection, semifinal, final and winner round.
Since they have won the monthly award, they will compete in the festival's annual award ceremony.
The organisers run a monthly and annual competition of all genres.
The film was broadcast on Deepto TV's YouTube channel on 21 December 2019. Kazi Media limited (Deepto TV), a sister concern of Kazi Farms, funded the movie under its CSR project.
"Our producers Kazi Zahin Hasan and Kazi Zeeshan Hasan are climate activists and they have been writing about climate issues for years now. This time, they thought of making an animated film to create mass awareness and engage with children. Since I have previously worked at Kazi Firms' animated studio ToonBangla as a studio manager, I have the experience of running a studio and a big project. So, they called on me to make 'Tomorrow'."
Initially, the creators wanted to make a 2D film. But the script was enriched with live locations and environmental situations. So, Shihab and his team made a bold decision to go with 3D.
"The script demanded a 3D projection. I knew we wouldn't get such a remarkable story every now and then. In the meantime, Cycore studio was relatively new but a very promising team. It seemed like every piece was in the right places, starting from funding, script and the creative team. We just had to execute it with immense devotion. And I feel that we did it right", remarked Shihab.
Creating a 3D movie in Bangladesh was thoroughly challenging. It took them 2 years to make the movie after a long 1.5 years of waiting for the script.
There was this fear in them of failing.
They might have actually failed a thousand times.
However, their confidence in themselves led them to conquer their fear.
"Although we were making this film for TV, I wanted to make it like a feature film. At first, we were much more focused on making content rather than filming and editing. In a feature animated film, your first task is to design the characters."
They preferred giving the characters a realistic look. They were delicately working on the skin tone, crumpling and dynamic clothes to give it a near perfect animated world. That is how they started developing Ratul, the protagonist.
"After the initial arrangements, we ran a demo test. Every 3D object, like trembling stones in the flowing seawater, just came fine. That's when I felt this film could globally impact since it concerns climate change. We wanted to deliver something that's 20 years ahead of our current development in Bangladesh. Then we turned our focus on layout, cinematography, colour and good composition. For us, the big challenge was to maintain the same quality for 26 minutes"-Shihab added.
Shihab has been active in the animation industry for 17 years now. He was in charge of four short films for the Meena series and Murgi Keno Mutant as a production manager at ToonBangla Studio.
Later, he developed his own 'Dcrows Animation Studio' and made six episodes of 'Shahana' series as a director.
These vast experiences helped him pursue the role of a director.
Now with this global reception, he is one of the prominent 3D filmmakers in Bangladesh.
After 'Tomorrow', Shihab is preparing for his next indie film, 'Kagojer Nouka'.
Tomorrow's global success is no doubt a big step for Bangladeshi 3D animators.
However, the industry here is yet to be flourished.
Shihab said that there are no certain markets here, nor any industry but they are blessed to have a group of enthusiastic youths who devote themselves to this art regardless of anything.
"'Tomorrow' is nothing but an example of 'dedication can get you anything'". And my role in this film was to motivate the team and help them dream big."