Foi-se (Brazil | 2017, 6 min)

Directed by: Adriano Pinheiro

After an unexpected situation, the Grim Reaper finds himself running out of time.


Interview with Adriano Pinheiro, director of “ Foi-se”, conducted by Caleb Dawdy, Animation Curator

Q: This story is very unique and very well framed into a comedic darkness. Could you describe the origin of this idea, and why you found yourself looking to portray a traditionally “bad character” in this relatable workaday light?

I’m glad you enjoy it! I guess everyone grows up assuming that the greatest truth we know from life is the certainty of death. Well, I’ve always liked to contest those “absolute truths”. In “Foi-se,” I present a Grim Reaper that is messed up and afraid of its own destiny. So this character is introduced now in a whole different and humanized shape: a hardworking guy, who actually likes his job but, as any other employee, has to follow some rules, like being in time for his duty and handling some stubborn souls and, at the end of each job, he earns the “vital energy” as a fair payment for his work.

Q: In terms of style, there is a subtle lushness within the minimalism that surrounds these characters, was this a style you’d been working in prior to this film? Were there major elements you wanted to feature for this story?

To be honest, it would be hard to do a super complex refinement for the final version using available technological resources I had. However, this limitation did not turned out as a bad thing because when I first wrote “Foi-se” I already had all that in mind. So, I chose for a minimalist style thinking about that, but also because it's a style I could play around with color, gestalt and symbolism. Everything has been thoroughly studied so I could emphasise the character’s actions. [laughs]

Q: What are some of your artistic influences, specifically referring to your animation style and cinematography?

I grew up surrounded by great animations and cartoons from Disney Studios, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Pixar, animes in general, and independent flash animations (most of them from Nowadays I usually watch experimental short films, short cartoon series, and live actions. Oh, and anything involving time travelling, the human mind, or anything with an unique, and crazy and creative argument about something. Now, among the artists that have directly influenced “Foi-se”, I must mention Gendy Tartakovsky, with his classic animations such as “Samurai Jack,” Craig McCracken with “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” and flash animators James Farr (“Xombie”) and Adam Philips (“Brackenwood”). And sure, the morbidity and the comedy working together in “Beetlejuice.”

Q: In general, what are your major influences in film and storytelling?

There are lots of influences, but I can list Darren Aronofsky, Charlie Kaufman, Wes Anderson and Tarantino, for sure. I believe Aronofsky is a master of symbolism and metaphors and Charlie Kaufman has that mad and distinctive writing. Wes Anderson caught my attention by his particular use of colors and position of elements in scene and Tarantino... well, it’s Tarantino! Oh, and I HAVE TO talk about Pixar...I love Pixar's formula. Also, of course I’m inspired by brazilian movies as well. I’m crazy about the film editing of “Cidade de Deus” (“City of God”) and I really appreciate what filmmakers did to "O Cheiro do Ralo" (“Drained”) and "O Homem que Copiava" (“The Man Who Copied”).

Q: What were some hurdles you had to overcome to tell this story? Did you run into any “happy accidents” that aided the final product?

Honestly, the biggest challenge was to keep the willpower to the end. But, please, don’t get me wrong! When I say that, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t caring about what I was creating. I say that because I did almost everything by myself, so I had to work on my free time, which comes down to dawn and weekends. So sometimes I found myself extremely exhausted. Besides, it was the first short-film I have ever produced, so I made many beginner mistakes. The good thing about it is that I’ve learnt a lot! Now, when it comes to “happy accidents”, I can say the best one for me was an animatic I did way before “Foi-se.” It was for another short-film project called “Vida e Morte” (Life and Death). I abandoned that project because I didn’t really like the result, but I could see it had lots of potential ideas that I could explore later on, such as the Grim Reaper as a worker and some ideas for the clock. So from a mistake, I was able to create something good, and I wrote “Foi-se’s” script just like it is now.

Q: Could you describe any changes that had to be made, or last minute additions that really affected the final product the audience is seeing?

Hmmm...I didn’t really need to make any changes since the storyboard was finished. Maybe because the animation process was all on me, and I could control every step of the whole process. So I believe this production was very linear: I followed the animatic and everything worked out very well. No dramas! [laughs]

Q: What is your favorite scene or moment in this film?

As a developer, I consider “different levels” of favorite moments: the scene I mostly enjoyed animating, the hardest one to do, the most beautiful one... But I gotta say, after everything was finished, I put myself as a viewer and could noticed that the scene I liked the most was the one where the Grim Reaper shows in a white background. I really like the duality caused by the contrast between the bright background and the character’s body language: there’s the sun shining but yet, there’s a dramatic and chilling tone aspect about the whole thing. It’s cool to see how all those contrasts can work altogether in one single scene.
CD: What do you hope your audience walks away feeling or thinking?
AP: I hope they enjoy and feel satisfied by the end [laughs] I mean, what we can see in this film is a journey and all the sad, happy and plot twist moments involved in it. I guess there’s nothing more rewarding than you feel that this journey has worthed.

Q: Are there any projects you have on the way that we can keep our eyes open for?

I’m currently working as a Graphic Designer on my personal studio (, but I indeed have some ideas for future shorts!