Introducing: Mahboobeh Kalaee

Our newest Futures Director, Mahboobeh, chats to us about how she developed her unique style, where her inspiration comes from, and the purpose that drives her...

Friday 23 June 2023

Tell us about yourself, what’s your story and your journey to where you are now?

During my years as a student - studying Animation Directing at Tehran University of Art  - I tried to be experimental with my visuals and ways to tell stories. This path was full of discovery and I got to understand the expressive possibilities of space and its power in animation. After making my graduation film ‘The Fourth Wall’, I wanted to test how I work in an outdoor space. Everything starts with space for me! My studies led me to see animation as a perfect medium for showing the truth of life - because it includes half of the truth of a person (one’s mind and imagination). It was during this discovery that I was engaged in a great art residency in Hiroshima and used my studies to test mixed media techniques in outer space. I am currently working on a project that I shot in Japan. In this film, I used my own set of cost-effective and creative solutions to unfold the narrative in an outdoor space as a way to expand my expressive ways. Creating and expanding the realms of creativity never ends, and fuels my unstoppable and daring spirit.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from observing people around me. I unconsciously combine my observations with layers of improvisation derived from my own lived experience. The more I live and deepen my experiences, the richer sources of inspiration I find. So, traveling, art residency, and observation helps me to expand the boundaries of my creativity.

Your style is so experimental, how did you develop it?

The process is similar to the growth of a living organism I think, because it’s dependent on my lived experience. By thinking about moments in my life and extending them, I bring them closer to a form of expression. This path is full of improvisation and observation. Similar to a researcher who is always doing field research. My tools during study and development are creative writing, photography, filming and carefully watching them so that I can identify points that allow me to use them creatively and expand them.

What interests you most about directing?

The possibility of building a world where I put all its parts together with a lot of thought and thereby solve the challenge of that world with "aesthetic" concepts. I am also interested in the formation of a holistic structure in such a way that the relationship between the real and the abstract have a narrative logic.

What piece of work you’ve created so far are you most proud of, and why?

‘Sink’ was my first animation experience. For the first time, I started making something that was alive by giving life to paintings through movement. At that time, I was naive and inexperienced. The miracle of creating a world where a concept is expressed with its own rules attracted me so much that I decided to follow this profession forever! That’s why my first encounter with animation is very precious to me.

What would you say your purpose is as a director, and what gives you that motivation?

I value documenting my experiences and thoughts. That's why I think my goal is to somehow record my thoughts with a beauty that matches that thought. Trying to think beautifully and express that beautiful thought, in a state where the reference of all of them is life itself.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

In the next few years, I will finish my film and it will be ready for screening. The challenge of making location-based animation in a mountainous space is a hard one. Then I will prepare myself for the next challenge in my life, which is to make a feature film using mixed techniques in its narrative and visual structure.

What's your favourite thing about working in a team / collaborating with others?

Whether we're working alone or together, we're always learning new skills. I learn a lot in a group setting and my skills increase. Collaboration helps everyone discover suitable and more optimal solutions for projects, because ultimately we all love to create.