Keynote: Masterclass Zsuzsanna Kreif

On 7 th October, a masterclass was presented by Hungarian director Zsuzsanna Kreif, who shared her experience with the endeavour to develop the feature animated project ‘Dino Doom on Desert Planet’ up to this point in time. The event was part of the CEE Animation Experience series and took place in co-operation with the Primanima World Festival of First Animation 2022.

At the beginning of her masterclass, Hungarian animator Zsuzsanna Kreif warned that, having a goal within the scope of film animation, one needs to get ready for a process that can take long years to complete: “With a project like this, you always need to be patient. And we need to remember that we all must go through it – not only me or you – so one shouldn’t get too frustrated.” But the results can be worth it. Her short diploma film ‘Limbo Limbo Travel’ was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and her TV series ‘Candide’ was selected for the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

‘Candide’ showed the danger of political art – the satirical take on different totalitarian ideologies was deemed “too political” by the network. This caused some issues during the final stages of production, culminating in the removal of the sharper jokes. “Because of that, it is now really difficult to get support from the Hungarian film fund for any of us,” Kreif says.

After that harsh experience, Kreif was seeking a smaller project that she could produce on her own. The result was the idea for the adult comedy ‘Dino Doom on Desert Planet’, which is at its core a love story. “A young meteor girl lives in space with her meteor family. She is bored because nothing happens and life is slow and space is dark. She has the telepathic ability to observe everything in the universe and one day she falls in love with a boy she sees on a very distant planet. Of course, she is not aware of the size difference between a being and a meteor, so she leaves her home and goes on a road trip, during which she shares dreams with her love. For the meteor girl, it’s a love story. For us, it’s the apocalypse approaching.”

The project has already been in development for several years. “Mostly, we developed it on our own, but we have also sought opportunities for residencies and funds all over the world,” the author explains. The preferred ally is, as in every aspect of the film industry, France.

The scope of the film has grown a bit since its initial modest beginning. The story has become more complex and the voyage through the universe proved to be a great starting point for many ideas to flourish. Kreif, again, uses the story to comment on political structures. “I have a lot of fun with creating fictional systems,” she confesses and talks about the post-apocalyptic world of a harsh hierarchy where elites control everything and everyone else.

Finally, Kreif realised that she had too much material for an 8-minute short and the idea to go feature length took shape. She managed to get a small development grant from a Hungarian fund and used the time to get from hand-drawn sketches to digital art. She also developed proper treatment and a visual bible necessary for following applications.

She also attended Annecy’s Mifa Pitches, which she found very useful and helpful. In addition, she received the Open Workshop prize, thanks to which she was able to spend some time working in Denmark where she completed the first full version of the script. After that, Kreif ceased actively working on the project for one-and-a-half years due to the necessity of earning money and fulfilling other obligations. “I just want to show you that you rarely just start working on a film and are able to finish it in one go. You also need to earn money and live.” This time was filled with international commercial work.

From this point, ‘Dino Doom’ is being developed on a larger scale, more appropriate for its potential. Kreif is now working with her partner Balázs Turai as a writer. Once again, the Annecy festival proved helpful, as it offers a workshop for debut feature films. The project was selected at the second attempt and was given the opportunity to develop under the guidance of a professional mentor for three months full of intense work. At the end of this period, Kreif was able to present her progress to investors with some success, so the future of the project looks quite hopeful. “We are just happy that the project is not stuck again and that we seem to be moving forward,” she concludes.


CEE Animation Experience is supported by Creative Europe MEDIA and the International Visegrad Fund.


CEE Animation is supported by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and co-funded by state funds and foundations and professional organisations from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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