The shot that won film director Juan José Campanella fans' adulation, and possibly secured his Oscar for Best Foreign Film, was a five-minute sequence on one camera, bang in the middle of otherwise plot-led 2009 thriller ‘The Secret in their Eyes’.
This shot took three months to plan, three days to film and nine months to post-produce but, the way the Oscar-winning director tells it, it was a walk in the park compared with his extended labours on his debut animation feature, ‘The Unbeatables’, the tale of one hapless young man, Amadeo, who must be rescued by the players of his beloved table football team.
“Animation takes so long I was able to start this film, make 'Secret in their Eyes', enjoy its success and still be developing this one,” he laughs.
“You become obsessive, you’re forced to. We literally had a six-hour meeting to choose the hero’s eye colour. I couldn’t tell the difference. I told someone else to choose it. You could go nuts. Don’t even ask me about the grass… they had to animate every single blade."
Juan Jose with his Oscar for 'The Secret in their Eyes'
For Juan, used to working with actors on both the stage and film, entering the world of animation demanded a tremendous gear shift for what he explains is “no actual film shoot, just rows of people and computers, young kids staying up all night inventing code to make it all possible. It’s incredibly inspiring, just in a different way.”
But if animation has its frustrations for Juan, it also has unlimited benefits for such a visual dreamer.
“Animation was something I enjoyed but an art I would always watch without being able to do it myself.
“I always wanted to do a fairytale that kids and adults would have a different reading of, something like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’.
“Animation allows you to do that nowadays, it allows you to be simpler and more potent.”
With fresh awards for ‘The Unbeatables’ to balance those he won for ‘The Secret in their Eyes’, it seems Jose now has the choice which way he goes. It turns out, though, he’s already put his time into a successful stage production in his native Argentina, and is in no rush to pick up his pencils again…
“I need to work with live actors again in front of my eyes,” he explains. “I think I need to cleanse my palate.”
'The Unbeatables' is in UK cinemas now. Watch the trailer above...