Known for their reality-flipping plots and ambitious themes, Oscar-nominated trio Job, Joris & Marieke literally put their “Heads Together” for their longest film yet. This week’s Staff Pick Premiere juggles the merged realities of three friends. The task? Combine their displaced brain-power to get their lives back.

A discarded washing machine left alone in a park isn’t usually the subject of much trouble, unless three kids get a bit too curious. What starts as the retrieving of a disappeared soccer ball progresses into decollated mayhem in an instant. After inspecting where the ball went inside of the machine, their heads go too, but the surreal humor is short-lived when the trio realize they’ve irreparably swapped bodies.

On — and even behind — the screen, the beauty of this film comes in the form of new challenges. In the film, these three friends use their own ways to navigate their new experiences, and in doing so, all of their lives are changed for the better. And behind the scenes, this short was a new feat for the animation trio: their previous films largely ran under 10 minutes with little to no dialogue.

At this point though, there are no surprises with Job, Joris & Marieke. If they had to make a feature tomorrow, they’d put their heads together and figure out how to approach it the night before, with time to spare. They’d likely win an Oscar while at it, too.

Ahead of the premiere, we caught up with Job, Joris & Marieke to understand all things timeline, see what advice they have for fellow filmmakers, and find out how they approached this film differently.

On inspiration

“For this project we were inspired by the headless horseman from the movie Sleepy Hollow. It’s a very spooky character in this film, but we thought it would be really funny to make a short film in which the main character would have no head without there being a specific reason for it. Just a headless character amongst normal people. But Kop Op was made as part of the ‘Now or Never’ competition, and that competition came with some conditions. The idea of this competition was to have filmmakers work with the theme ‘multicultural society’ and the target group was kids between 8 and 12 years. So we had to find a way to combine our headless character idea with the multicultural society theme. And that is how we ended up with the concept of three friends exchanging heads.”

On challenges

“A big challenge for us was working with dialogue. Our previous work had always been without dialogue. But this film was too long and the concept too complicated to have no dialogue. When we read the scenario from our screenwriter Lotte Tabbers we had to get used to our characters having a voice but at the same time we were very excited because it was so well written. It was our first time working with voice actors and we were thrilled about the fact that our work process finally got some spontaneity because there was room for improvisations and lucky mistakes. Animation is such a time consuming technique that nothing is left to chance. But now we finally had found a small space in the process where there was room for some unintended playfulness.”

On timeline

“This project took us approximately 8 months to make. The three of us worked with a team of four people, two animators and two modelers.”

On difference in approach

“Our previous work had always been under 10 minutes. This film was going to be 20 minutes so we had to scale things up. We had to reinvent our workflow so we could deal with the great amount of files and to make sure we wouldn’t lose the overview. And managing a team of four people was new for us. We were used to working with the three of us, and because we are usually on the same page and we want the same result, the process of making the film flows naturally. This was the first time we had to become aware of our process and we had to find a way to communicate every step of the process with our team so we would all be on the same page.”

On advice to other filmmakers

“Our advice to aspiring animation filmmakers would be; make it anyway. When we started our studio we were told many times that what we wanted to do was too difficult or impossible. It’s no use pondering too long over a project, hesitating if you will be able to pull it off. Every animated second gives you more experience and knowledge. Better to make something than not to start at all.”

On what’s next

“At this moment we are working on a series based on this film. It will be 12 episodes of 10 minutes. Each episode has a theme, like jealousy or bullying. It’s our biggest project ever. This time we worked with a team of 15 people. It was very exciting to have these talented people with us at our studio. And it was the most difficult decision ever to send them all home after four days of work because the pandemic had started. But luckily everybody was able to work from home and they have all done an amazing job. Right now we’re in post-production and the series will be finished early 2022.”

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