Alberto Mielgo, a multi award-winning animator, talks about his new animated short “Jibaro,” part of Netflix’s animation anthology show Love Death + Robots. Here, he talks about his inspiration for the look of his animation, the noise, the movement, and where so much of the idea came from. Additionally, he reveals why he’s so excited about what animation can do and why he will (probably) never do a family-friendly animated project.
Awards Daily: What was the inspiration for the very realistic look to your short?
Alberto Mielgo: It is my style; it’s a result of years of painting and working in animation. I didn’t actually come up with the idea for the show specifically but this is what I know how to do the best. I’m a self-taught artist. Every time that I start a project I basically start painting the way that I know how to paint. I wouldn’t say it is realism; I would say it’s more impressionism. The characters do not have pores or deep skin details. I get rid of anything I don’t need, which is pretty much what you do with impressionistic paintings.
Awards Daily: Are you still working on your painting? I saw that you had some on your site.
Alberto Mielgo: Yes! Always, always. I mean maybe there has been two years that I haven’t painted, but I just finished some paintings recently. I do my work in oils.
Awards Daily: I read on your site that you wanted to bring a more targeted audience animation and weren’t interested in the more family-friendly fair. Where did that inspiration come from to do more with animation?
Alberto Mielgo: I love cinema generally, and I do not enjoy family-friendly films that much. When I was a kid I watched them but now I need more stimulation. My favorite films are American films from the 70s, European and Asian films. I think Asian animation has been a step further in terms of the narratives. So because I love animation and because I love art I think that animation has every single kind of art you can imagine inside of it, and I want to explore cinema with the art of animation. Without the family-friendly limitations.
Awards Daily: One part that interested me watching your short was the sound of the armor as the knights were moving. What did you do to create that noise?
Alberto Mielgo: Forks and spoons and old kitchen apparel.
Awards Daily: Wow! It sounded so realistic to me.
Alberto Mielgo: I know. It’s very surprising how the brain can make you think that way.
Awards Daily: You describe the relationship between the siren and the deaf knight as a toxic relationship. How did you come up with that idea?
Alberto Mielgo: Both characters are very much part of myself. Sometimes I’m the person who has been injured, sometimes I’m the person who’s injured others. I don’t think anyone can say that they’ve never hurt someone. I think humans are generally very selfish and even though love sometimes seems altruistic there’s always a selfish reason why we want to be with one person or another. Something a lot of people have been mentioning is that Jibaro is like an analogy inside of an analogy inside of an analogy. Obviously it’s a portrait of a toxic relationship between two people but there’s also an analogy to colonialism with the Spaniards in South America or Europeans in all of Africa and Asia. There’s also the toxic relationship between humans and planet Earth’s resources. Then the oppressive and abusive relationship between man and woman that occurred throughout history. Every interpretation is valid, everything is actually there. The story is well thought so you can have your own interpretation and at the end everything that’s happened between humans and nature, everything that’s happened between man and woman, everything that happened between two countries or civilizations, or any kind of colonialism is a toxic relationship where either one of them loses or both of them lose.
Awards Daily: I read that you used ballet as inspiration for the siren’s movement. Was that always the plan for her movement or did that kind of come to you later?
Alberto Mielgo: It came very soon. Originally I was thinking of a way of creating this lure to attract the knights with her singing. But then I thought instead of singing I wanted to create some sensual movement, and instead of singing she would scream and it would almost be obnoxious. Dancing is something I have always loved. I feel that dancers communicate emotions with their bodies better than anyone. I thought that a great way to create intoxication when you hear it is all of a sudden your body becomes dancy as opposed to minutes ago when we saw these tough knights walking very rigidly. Then all of a sudden when you hear the sound you obviously see a force that is taking over them, and dancing was the best way to represent this.
Awards Daily: You have an Oscar, an Emmy, and Annie Awards. What has the experience been like winning so many prestigious Awards?
Alberto Mielgo: Well they take up space, you have to travel around with them in boxes, etc., etc. Which is usually a pain in the ass. (Laughing) These awards, rewarding their industry, is something America does very well. I’m not going to lie. It’s been a huge change since I started winning Emmys, and now with the Oscar people really want to know what I’m going to do next. The award is like a guarantee that okay, this is good, let’s listen to this person, and let’s reward him, not only with a trophy but by opening doors and hopefully promising a good career. So that is something that I’m very grateful for.
Awards Daily: You have tackled all sorts of different subjects. Is there something in particular you’re anxious to try next, or are you just sort of opening yourself up to see what’s available?
Alberto Mielgo: I definitely want to tackle feature films. So far I’ve been doing short films and I want to extend this to 80 or 90 minutes. For TV we already did it with Love Death + Robots. We entered very strongly into the mainstream, showing what we can do. Netflix is extremely brave, or maybe they just need a lot of variety, but I have never seen investors want to do things like that before. It is like the Golden Age of Creativity right now. But I want to extend it to cinema, either theaters or streaming, but at least the 80 minute format is what’s going to happen next.