Creative Connection

Q&A With the Makers of Animated Film ‘Top 3,’ Showing at Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival 2019

This weekend, the AdobeProud network is supporting the 2019 Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Festival, which celebrates LGBTIQA+ stories via a mix of films, arts and events. We caught up with the creators of the film ‘Top 3’, which was made using Creative Cloud and is making its debut this Sunday, 17 November, at the festival.

Producer/writer Simon Österhof, Director/illustrator Sofie Edvardsson and animator Jakob Nyström talked to us about the making of the film, the inspiration behind the story and their advice to aspiring film-makers.

Where did your inspiration stem from when creating ‘Top 3’?  

Simon: Our process for ‘Top 3’ was very discussion-based. Rather than having one source of inspiration, we had a lot of long discussions about all the things that pique our interest. That then became a pool of inspiration to draw from. So, in the final film you can see inspiration from everything from rural vs urban political discussions happening in Sweden, high school films, motion projects, and many more things.

Sofie: Yes, it’s many things that have inspired the narrative, the style and the feel of the film. When it comes to the style, I have always loved the graphical, wonky feel of visuals; and I love to mix that up with textures and lots of colours. When working with animation, you’re able to bend the rules of reality, and I always take the opportunity to do so.

At Adobe, the purpose of our products is for filmmakers, like yourself, to bring your creations to life. When creating your film ‘Top 3’ did you find using products like Creative Cloud assisted with bringing the concept to life?

Sofie: All the illustrations you see on the screen, all the scenes, are illustrated in Adobe Illustrator with the help of loads of my favourite textures. The fact we could seamlessly work back and forth between illustration and animation was really important for this project.

Jakob: We then imported those lovely illustrations into After Effects where we did all the animation that’s not Cel animated. So, all backgrounds, objects and characters are animated with a lot of keyframes. We had to explore and develop how to do small, intimate character scenes in After Effects; and it was worth it, because every time I hear someone say they felt the emotions of the characters, I feel very proud. At the end of the process, we brought those animated scenes into Adobe Premiere Pro where we did the final edit.

We have always prided ourselves in working closely with ambitious filmmakers, and we certainly know that there are many obstacles you will face when trying to execute a personal project. When making ‘Top 3’ what was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?

Simon: In the time we made ‘Top 3’, our animation studio grew to three times the size it was at the start of the process. So, finding ways to maintain our commercial business while keeping a steady pace on ‘Top 3’ was a challenge.

Sofie: I spent a lot of time making sure I developed a visual style that I would feel happy and excited to be working with for years to come.

Jakob: I think the sheer volume of a project like this was a challenge. From making 45 minutes of animation with a tiny team, to Sofie making all the illustrations with some help from our co-worker David Karlström, me then animating everything and Salla Lehmus contributing Cel-animation. It’s a daunting prospect when you have years of work ahead of you. But we kept dividing the work into tiny pieces until finally it was finished!

This weekend ‘Top 3’ will showcase at the queer film and arts festival, Fringe! You will be there among some of the most influential queer filmmakers in the industry, what does this mean for you as a filmmaker but also what does this mean for ‘Top 3’?

Sofie: Getting to screen our film at these amazing festivals means so much to me as a filmmaker. Given this is my first film, I haven’t taken anything for granted when it comes to sharing it with the world. The Fringe! team saw the film when it premiered at Frameline in San Francisco, and the love they’ve shown us since has been amazing.

Jakob: It always feels big when you get invited to screen at a festival. Then when you see the other people that have been invited, it goes from big to huge. We’ve had such a great response from excited and loving crowds at previous LGBT festivals, so I’m hoping for a fun screening at Fringe!

What would be your advice be to aspiring film-makers that are trying to start their own personal projects? From the skills you learnt, in a sentence, how would you project that onto young ambitious creatives?

Simon: My biggest piece of advice is to find a way to create content and try to find people to create content with. The only way to get better at something is to keep practising. It’s so easy to sit and wait for the right idea, the right time, the right equipment. But the best way is to take the idea you have right now and just run with it.

Sofie: Think about what you want to do and what’s important to you. What stories do you want to tell? What makes you excited and gets your heart rate going? Making films can take a long time and be hard work, so finding that spark and joy in what you do is what will get you to the end.

Jakob: Don’t wait for the right moment, just start making stuff. Start small, set deadlines and make bigger and better projects as you learn from mistakes and tweak your creative process. Plus, find great people to collaborate with.

‘Top 3’ is a really important film that carries a strong underlying message for the LGBTIQA+ and POC communities. What are your thoughts on corporations, like Adobe, helping to champion D&I/LGBTQ+ representation in the film industry?

Simon: I think a company like Adobe has a responsibility to not only give opportunities to under-represented groups but also to make sure that every kid today grows up seeing themselves represented in the fields they’re interested in.

What is your purpose, as a film director that creates content in this area, to showcase your films at a festival like Fringe?

Sofie: When we started making ‘Top 3,’ tour goal was to make the audience laugh but also make them cry. That goal still stands for each and every screening we do. We want people to feel something. It means everything that people who have seen the film say they can relate to the characters, the lives of the characters and the obstacles they face in the film.

Simon: It’s also been important for us to make a film with a same-sex couple that never portrays sexuality as an obstacle to overcome. I can’t wait to see what the London crowd thinks of it.

Part of our mission at AdobeProud is to focus on making communities a more inclusive place for everyone, and teaming up with Fringe! gives us an opportunity to champion LGBTIQA+ representation in the film industry.

Follow #AdobeForAll and see how our employees are making their communities a diverse and inclusive place for all. Visit our Diversity and Inclusion site to learn more about our initiatives. And read more about our employee networks and the employees that breathe life into them:

  • Black Employee Network
  • Adobe & Women Employee Network
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