Hedi is experiencing strange things. While her granddaughter is visiting, she suddenly embarks on a hiking journey, to the deepest parts of the Alps, revealing the reason for her devoted attachment to her hiking shoes.
The director/animator of this wonderful animated short is Kathrin Steinbacher. She is also an illustrator and a picture book maker. Her work has been screened in numerous film festivals across the world. She loves to tell stories through animation and narrative illustration. she is also motivated by raising awareness for social issues. In Her Boot is her latest animated short and now it has received a BAFTA nomination for Best British Short Animation. I hope you take the time to get to know her and her work that has now gotten the film elites' attention.
1. How did you get the idea for In Her Boots?
The film was inspired by my grandmother. I grew up in a very little village in Austria and it always bothered me that people care so much what others think about them. My grandmother had these old hiking boots she was very attached to.
They were old and almost falling apart but she refused to get new ones. This obsession that people didn’t seem to understand was the inspiration for the film.
So, in the film the old hiking boots represent something fundamental about the main character Hedi. She seems a bit silly and confused but she is pretty self-confident and a strong woman and the hiking shoes represent something fundamental about her: Her strength, her independence and her ability to maintain her autonomy despite her old age.
2. Was In Her Boots the original title or were there other titles?
I spent ages deciding on a title. But I liked the metaphor. I always aim to make the invisible a bit more visible and the unrelatable more relatable in my films. And I think animation is a very powerful tool to make subjective experiences and rare human conditions, states that are alien to most people, more concrete and thus more perceptible and understandable by the audience.
And the metaphor ‘In Her Boots’ kind of serves as a metaphor to share a particular experience with the audience.
3. What influences (if any) helped you with writing In Her Boots?
Location Drawings I did in Austria, the books I read as a part of my research, especially Elisabeth is missing by Emma Healey. Interviews I conducted with elderly people. And my own personal and social environment in Austria. And of course my own grandmother.
4. What is your writing habit in general? Do you write in the daytime or night?
I do not really write a script. I storyboard though. I mainly work with visuals and I am most productive in the morning.
5. Are you thinking of making In Her Boots into a feature-length film?
If I get funding :-)
6. Which novel/novella/short story have you read that you would like to make into an animated film adaptation?
There are too many and it is impossible to decide. But I recently finished a book by Eckhart Tolle called “The Power of Now". It’s about how to live in the present and I would like to make a film that focuses on time and perception of time.
7. Major congrats on getting a BAFTA nomination for Best British Short Animation for In Her Boots, who are you excited to meet or see at the ceremony?
I am mainly excited to meet the other two directors who also got nominated in the short animated category.
But would also love to speak to Joaquin Phoenix and Leonardo DiCaprio because firstly I think they are great actors and secondly I deeply respect their fight against climate change.
8. If you win the BAFTA Award who would be the first person you’d like to thank?
My husband because he had to deal with my moods the most whilst I was working on the film.
9. Did you always wanted to be an animator growing up? Also, who inspired you while pursuing your dream?
No, I never really knew that animation was something you can do as a profession. I always wanted to work as a creative but I ended up studying animation almost by pure coincidence. To be honest, I never thought that I was especially talented or particularly good at drawing. But I started my art and design Foundation at Kingston University and had amazing tutors. In the beginning, I was extremely overwhelmed and intimidated by all the amazing people on the course who were all so extremely motivated and talented. And then one day the tutors forced us to do some location drawings and it was my biggest nightmare. But it turned out to be the best thing because I started to draw the world how I saw it and kind of naturally developed my own visual language and the tutors noticed that immediately and supported me and gave me the confidence I needed. I started to enjoy illustrating and drawing and decided to study Illustration/ Animation. I later specialised in Animation because I found it so much more interesting to make my illustrations move. It was basically the next step.
10. Do you recall the very first animation short you ever did?
How could I forget? It was horrendous. It’s a 2-minute long clay motion animation I did when I was I think 18. I created it as part of an application process for an Austrian university.
11. Which of your children’s books would you like to see made into an animation series or animated film?
The Bogeyman :-)
12. What is your favourite Disney movie as a child? What is your favourite Disney tune as well?
Alice in wonderland and my favourite song is Hakuna Matata.
13. Could you give a sneak peek of your next project?
I am currently working on an animated documentary about women in animation together with my dear friend and colleague Emily Downe.
14. What piece of advice do you have for aspiring animators starting out?
Have trust in your audience and yourself. Don't change anything in your film that feels wrong to you.
And probably most important, NEVER compare yourself to others!
15. Last question, if you must wear a t-shirt with one word on it for the rest of your life, which word do you choose?
I hope Kathrin have a very memorable experience at the BAFTA ceremony. All the best to her as well. I really appreciate her for taking her time to do this. Also, I want to thank those that are reading this interview. I hope you were well-informed and enjoyed the content too. Have a great day and take care!