Kinga Syrek, the author of "Too Late": The art of discipline
Too Late is an animated short that focuses on the complex, toxic relationship between Edie Sedgwick, American actress and Andy Warhol’s muse, and her father. The film had a very promising run at festivals: it was honored with the award for the “Best Animated Film” at the Globe Film Festival in New York and the Long Story Short Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland. It also was qualified for the Raindance Film Festival in London, a legendary event that in the past hosted the premieres of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, and many more. During last year’s event, we spoke to the author of Too Late, Kinga Syrek, about her career path, and her sources of inspiration for her warmly welcomed short.
Kinga, how have you been during the pandemic? Were there any advantages of staying at home?
Kinga Syrek: While staying at home during the lockdown, I had plenty of time to finish my first animated film Too Late, which has been accepted for the Raindance Film Festival. I missed traveling abroad or meeting up with people. I am glad I could finally visit London after almost two years of staying in my hometown.
What does it mean to you to be at this iconic festival?
Having my film accepted for the Raindance Film Festival was truly a dream come true! It is such an amazing opportunity. I couldn’t have imagined a better place for the UK premiere of Too Late than at the endlessly fabulous Raindance! What is more, I am having a great time meeting new people from the film industry here. And I have to mention that the opening gala at the Dorchester Hotel was a blast. I feel like it was the best party of my life!
You had an incredible festival run with Too Late. Your film was honored with the award for the “Best Animated Film” at the Globe Film Festival in New York, and at the Long Story Short Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland. Did you imagine you would get this favorable reaction to your film?
It makes me happy that the dedication and hard work that I put in Too Late has been appreciated by the festival’s programmers and jury. Recently, Too Late has also received another award for the Best Animated Film at the Złoty Samorodek Film Festival in Zlotoryja, Poland. This is my debut film, and the acclaim that it had already received is a huge motivation to continue my work as a filmmaker.
Tell us something more about Too Late’s storyline. How do you balance all the creative roles you undertook on a project like this?
The film focuses on the complicated relationship between Edie Sedgwick, the famous American actress and Andy Warhol’s muse, and her abusive father. I chose this particular chapter of Sedgwick’s life as I believe it was a key factor in her future problems, addiction, and early demise. It was pretty easy for me to finish this film on my own because I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve. Making an animated film alone is challenging and time-consuming, but I didn’t have to rush with this project at all. I came up with the idea for the film after I returned from a vacation in California, where I visited Edie Sedgwick’s family ranch and her gravesite in 2017. It was a time when I had to decide what will be the theme of my bachelor’s thesis at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow. With my professor Krzysztof Kiwerski, we decided that for a bachelor’s thesis, I will create a teaser for the film. Then, I had to direct the entire film for my master’s dissertation. It was a perfect time for Too Late to be released in 2021 due to this year’s 50th anniversary of Edie Sedgwick’s death.
What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced making your debut film?
When I started working on Too Late, I was a beginner in animation and filmmaking. While I was creating the first scenes for the film, I was learning the animating software at the same time. The beginning was difficult, but with each finished scene, it got easier and easier.
The soundtrack for Too Late was produced by Robert Margouleff, an electronic music pioneer and legend. What was the experience of working with someone who had such a close relationship with Edie Sedgwick?
It is such an honor for me that Robert Margouleff produced the soundtrack for Too Late. He's not only a legend but also a person who was present during the most important moments in Edie’s life. Edie also lived in his apartment after setting her room on fire at the Chelsea Hotel. Because he knew the story first hand, he and his team, including composer Aaron “Zeus” Zepeda and sound engineer Gio Bertuccelli, could accurately choose sounds for this particular scene in my movie. Their sounds synchronized with my original images. As there are no existing photos of Edie Sedgwick’s hotel apartment, I had to design the set with some help of my imagination and descriptions of what the hotel rooms resembled. For instance, I used the hand-drawn illustrations of Edie’s clothes and accessories like a stylish leopard print coat put on the wooden floor. I used it as a background design for the scene of the infamous fire after Robert told us a unique story. His father had had a fur company, and he lent him some furs for the Ciao! Manhattan (1972), a movie in which Edie played the main role. The furs got burned at the Chelsea fire, and his father was very mad at him. Interestingly, while working on the soundtrack, Robert shared all these stories, and his memories with Edie’s fans on the Facebook group run by me called Conversations with Edie Sedgwick.
I'd like to tell the viewers about the enormous impact that families have on young people’s lives and what happens when a young person can’t rely on a parental figure.
What do you hope people will take away from the screening of Too Late?
After watching Too Late, I presume that viewers who weren’t familiar with Edie Sedgwick will understand who she really was. Yet, popularizing her is not the only reason I made my debut film. I'd like to tell the viewers about the enormous impact that families have on young people’s lives and what happens when a young person can’t rely on a parental figure. What is more, my goal was to improve awareness of mental health problems. Before she died, my heroine always warned people about the dangerousness of drugs. Edie Sedgwick tried so hard to overcome the addiction and start a new, healthy life, but unfortunately, she couldn’t escape her past.
And what is your favorite Edie Sedgwick quote?
She had some very brilliant quotes, but the one that every artist should consider goes like that: “I want to reach people and express myself. You have to put up with the risk of being misunderstood if you're going to try to communicate. You have to put up with people projecting their own ideas, attitudes, misunderstanding you. But it's worth being a public fool if that's all you can be to communicate yourself.”
Have you always had a passion for animation?
I became interested in the animation process in high school when our task was to create a one-minute stop-motion film. For inspiration, I chose one of my favorite cartoons – Courage the Cowardly Dog. My first animation came out very well and even was complemented by the creator of the original cartoon himself, John R. Dilworth from Cartoon Network! That wonderful experience motivated me to develop my animation skills – I wanted to learn 2D/3D animation. Therefore, the natural choice for my higher education was in the Intermedia Department at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts. The professors who teach animation here are very passionate scholars: they will answer all your questions and support you in every struggle linked to the academy’s projects. In this course, I gained a solid foundation for using software for animation and motion graphics.
Remember: you should never give up, even if sometimes it feels difficult. Think of what you want to achieve and always be positive.
Is there any advice or tips you would offer a fellow animator?
Animation is a field where the creator must be disciplined, show patience, and be focused. So remember: you should never give up, even if sometimes it feels difficult. Think of what you want to achieve and always be positive. One of the things that motivate me is the moment when my characters come to life on the screen.
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