The first time I saw Legend of the Flying Tomato I got that feeling you get when you see a good Pixar film. It’s such a professionally put together short 3D film, one that comes once in a blue moon. I’ve interviewed Aurry Tan, one of the three students who put this together (the others being Michael Yates & Sharon Huang) to find out how it was made.
1) How did you come up with the idea for the short film, the characters and the setting?
The story’s original idea came about after reading the news about a Mexican drug lord who was recently arrested. In our first treatment, our main character was a Mafia leader by day and fought crime by night as a lucha libre in order to repent for his wrong doing. This story never led anywhere, but the idea of luchadors struck a chord with us. The story went through countless revisions but we knew throughout it all that we definitely wanted to do something with the masked wrestlers. The engaging and colorful world of lucha libre was fascinating to us.
2) How many people were involved in creating this and what were their roles?
Because we had very limited time and resources, all three of us worked on every single aspect of the film together. For each part of the production pipeline, one of us would step up into a more supervisory role and lead the rest.
3) The cinematography animation style and scene positions are very professionally done. What other films did you look at when taking these doing these things?
Our biggest inspiration was Quentin Tarantino’s movies, especially Kill Bill. We were drawn to the style and energy in his films. We were also influenced by Scott Pilgrim, Raging Bull, The Wrestler, Breaking Bad, Street Fighter and anime like Cowboy Bebop, Naruto and Dragon Ball Z.
4) There are a few 2D elements in the film, during the fight and on the tv screen, how did you incorporate into the scene and why did you not choose to make everything 3D?
The main reason we chose to make it 2D was because there was no way we could have modelled rigged textured and animated 1 more CG model (the young el pirana). And since it went into the world of the TV, we thought it would be a cool stylistic choice to have it in 2D. It also fit in with the 2D effects that we had throughout the film.
5) How long did the whole thing take to put together, and did you have any sort of budget?
We spent about four months in preproduction during the second half of our 3rd year and approximately nine months in CG production during our senior year. There was no budget, unless you include our way too expensive tuition fees!
6) The audio work in the short is very impressive, how did you go about selecting the voice actors?
We were lucky to have very talented friends in school. The little Frida, announcer, Toro and Frida were voiced by our classmates. Our good friend Alejandra Perez is from Mexico. Having her as Frida definitely helped make everything a lot more authentic. Unfortunately we could not find a suitable voice for the taco seller and had to go to voice123.com. We were fortunate to find Bill Sage, who was very professional and enthusiastic.
7) Reading the credits it seems like some of the music was recorded live in a studio. Could you tell me a bit about that?
Our composer, Erez Koksas, highly recommended doing all the guitar and trumpet live. He took charge on the music and did an amazing job.
8) What support did you receive from the Ringling College of Art and Design whilst making this?
We regularly had full faculty critiques where we’d show progress and get notes from all the teachers maybe once a month during production. Having fixed deadlines to meet definitely forced us to keep a tight schedule. The teachers at Ringling often took time out of their busy schedule to meet us outside of class to give us feedback, critiques or to help with story problems and technical issues!We also had a lot of support from the IT department who actively helped us with rendering issues.
9) Finally do you guys have any more short films planned for the future?
As of now there is nothing in the queue we have been busy finding jobs and moving around but nothing is ruled out.
Aurry Tan, Michael Yates & Sharon Huang