Awarded Silver Best Animation Short in ISA’s July season, “Shipwrecked” brings attention to a newcomer British female filmmaker. In a four-minute film, Sabrina Marengo managed to create a brilliant and funny portrait of one of the most disturbing phenomena of the so-called modernity.
ISA: Congratulations, Sabrina! Tell us a bit about your award-winning movie “Shipwrecked”.
Sabrina Marengo: Thank you so much! It’s such an honor to be part of this great festival, and to win an award wow! I feel so very privileged and grateful. Since the beginning, all I wanted was to produce a deeply personal story, and my university gave me the opportunity and the tools to make this happen. Whatever the setting, at the heart of this film there are ideas and characters rooted in my own life, mined from my very own experience and set aloft by imagination. “Shipwrecked” presented a challenge to me: create a “modern” tale that transports the viewer, is funny in its profoundness and is relatable as a real story with a real character. The story takes place in a remote setting, away from our better-known world, but in truth, it’s about a man who becomes aware of our reality. It’s about the burden of solitude – and the rewards. My character is a sort of “Cast Away” in reverse, so to speak: a man stranded on a desert island, eager to escape, who in the end realizes that the one thing he wanted to be reunited with – civilization – is now the very thing he wants to escape. The life-lesson he learns (very pertinent nowadays) is to appreciate what you’ve got.
ISA: What does “Shipwrecked” mean to you?
SM: “Shipwrecked” marks a big first for me, being this the first film I have been working on (almost) entirely on my own. I have literally poured my heart into this, and I hope it shows. I worked day and night for nine months and I’d do it all again. Makes me incredibly proud to realize I did all this from start to end – with the invaluable help of a fantastic team and great, supportive tutors. It’s so rewarding to see it on the big screen after all that hard work.
ISA: What did you want to tell the audience with this film?
SM: My movie is essentially a plea for reduced dependency on social media and it is aimed to a generation that, in its fascination with new technology, has got its priorities askew. Our super-connected world is dangerously disconnected from things that matter. I firmly believe that switching off our mobile phones and computers can improve our emotional health. What was the last time you took a long walk in nature, really paying attention to the world around you, enjoying the sights and sound of your surroundings without feeling like having to immediately share pics on Instagram? Happiness is not getting thousands of followers and likes. To me is, in fact, having that phone switched off.
ISA: Are you happy with the final result or would you change something?
SM: I’m very happy with how it turned out, although I wish I had more time to work on it! There were some really hilarious bits that I had to cut out just because there wasn’t much time left to animate everything. Maybe there will be a sequel, who knows!
ISA: What would be your advice to women who are trying to break in the world of directing?
SM: If you are good at what you do and you offer a good service, then it’s just silly of people to assume that if you’re a woman, you can’t do it. I would say believe in yourself and try to have confidence. Be open to collaboration, not bullying or condescension. If that happens, hold up a mirror ask them how they’d like it if you treated them that way. Give it back to them with a good-humored smile. But most importantly, embrace what is unique about your work. The animation industry is built on the creativity, skill, talent, and passion of all of its members – regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, or class status. I truly believe this.
ISA: What’s next for you?
SM: Move to a remote island and switch everything off. Joking! (Or maybe not…) Another movie, of course! I had great fun with “Shipwrecked” and I already can’t wait to start working on another project. I feel I have grown massively in the past few months just working on my short movie and I can’t wait to see what I am capable of in a professional environment. There is so much to learn and as daunting as it may appear to be, it is also extremely exciting. Growth happens outside of our comfort zone, and I always like to push myself out of it.
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