Episode 11: Tomek Baginski - THE WITCHER E.P. and FALLEN ART director
Tomek Baginski is the Academy Award Nominated director of FALLEN ART, and executive producer of Netflix's upcoming THE WITCHER fantasy series.
Tomek stopped by my place in LA to record this episode just before boarding a flight back to Budapest, where he’s executive producing the highly anticipated Netflix series THE WITCHER, starring Henry Cavill (the show is rumored to be Netflix’s answer to HBO’s GAME OF THRONES).
But his journey into this lucrative role can’t be more unique. He started out as a director of animated shorts, quickly becoming a national figure in his native Poland when his first animated film, CATHEDRAL was an Academy Award nominee for best animated short film in 2002. His second animated short, FALLEN ART (2004) is one of my all-time favorite short films, and contributed to my appreciation of animation as a serious storytelling medium. His last fully-animated short was THE KINEMATOGRAPH in 2010.
It was also a turning point for Tomek, who’s ambition to tell bigger stories lead him to slowly migrate to live-action.
His next short, the live-action AMBITION was commissioned for the european space agency in 2014. It starred Aidan Gillen (Little Finger from Game Of Thrones).
“...and I thought, okay: I can be one of the 3,000 directors here in LA, and there will be no difference between me and the other guy, or I can be this guy who visits sometimes and has strange accent and weird look, and I might be remembered. And at some moment when somebody will be looking for a director to cover some work in Europe than I can come in handy, because there are not that many people with the skills and knowledge I have from this town living there. It was a very long term idea, and I wasn't sure it would work. But luckily it worked.”
In this episode we talked about how the success of his early short films paved the way to becoming a prominent commercial director in Europe, and why he ultimately left animation and went on to master a completely different skill set.
We talked about the importance of not over-relying on his most demonstrated talent, and the renewed sense of accomplishment when he finally sold a pitch without showing a single image.
We only had an hour to chat but we packed so much into it, I really think this episode is a must-listen for anyone who’s an aspiring filmmaker worried about the challenges ahead.
FALLEN ART (2004):
THE KINEMATOGRAPH (2010):
Opening and closing song: "14 Days" by Akın Sevgör.
Stay tuned for episode 12, featuring Leigh Lahav, the creator of animated mashup parodies like “Frozen is the new Black” and “A Stranger Things christmas”. Hope to see you next time!