FICM profiles: interview with Gabriela Camarillo, GOBELINS fellowBy: Gabriela Martínez @GabbMartivel
Gabriela Camarillo was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. She is one of the three young Mexican talents who received the ANIMEXICO scholarship granted by Guillermo del Toro with the support of Cinépolis, to study the Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking Master in Fine Arts at GOBELINS, l’ecole de l’image; the most renowned animation school in the world.
The Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) had the opportunity to talk with Gabriela Camarillo, who shared how her taste for drawing was born, her motivations and how she met Guillermo del Toro.
FICM: Tell us about your career, what were your beginnings?
Gabriela Camarillo: I started from very young doing small jobs for exchanges or favors to friends. That’s how I opened the doors. I never thought I would be an artist, in fact I studied to be a surgeon and I think that, somehow, inspired my style.
I decided to apply to the animation career offered by the Tecnológico de Monterrey, I stayed there for a semester and then applied to enter the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), which is in Los Angeles, California, so I left. When I arrived, I had no idea what the artistic field was about, I just wanted to tell stories, design characters, whatever came to mind; There they oriented me.
I had my first opportunity when a teacher gave me to understand that storyboards were my thing. Once a writer at Blizzard Entertainment, a video game company that was a boom with World of Warcraft, went to school. I grew up with their video games and in fact I learned English with them. With my portfolio in hand, I approached him to say that I liked what they were doing in the company and thank him for it, we talked and he asked me if he could see my work, I showed him my portfolio and then he invited me to see what it was like to work in Blizzard. That encouraged me a lot and I ended up working there during the summer doing storyboards for Overwatch, a videogame.
Then they offered me an internship at Pixar, there I met several directors, among them Mark Andrews (Brave, 2012), who helped me learn more things and improve my storyboard skills. I learned a lot, it’s a very good program.
After Pixar, Trump came to the presidency of the United States and I had to return to Mexico because we ran out of money. I couldn’t finish my education at Cal Arts. However, because of the experience I had, I was able to do freelance in Mexico for Hasbro, it was for a Max Steel movie. I was also able to work for Cartoon Network in Ben 10.
While in Mexico, I received an invitation from Guillermo del Toro to work at Dreamworks with Trollhunters.
FICM: How incredible! How did Guillermo del Toro contact you?
GC: I woke up one day and suddenly I had many notifications on Twitter without knowing why. It turns out that Guillermo del Toro had followed me and retweeted something of mine, a drawing. Then he send me a Direct Message, he told me that he liked my job a lot, he asked me what I was doing at the moment and then he invited me to work with him for a year with an incredible team. I learned a lot.
FICM: How did you find out about the ANIMEXICO scholarship?
GC: When I finished my work at Trollhunters, I remember something Guillermo del Toro had said about the scholarship and it made me want to learn more, so I applied for the scholarship. At that time there was only one scholarship available, I didn’t think they would give it to me because I signed up late. In the end, they decided to give three instead of one and they selected me. I did not expect that.
FICM: How would you define your style of animation?
GC: I saw a lot of anime when I was a child. My dad being a surgeon, he taught me that you can find inspiration by observing things, nature, in the books of medicine, art, anatomy, even history.
If you take inspiration from something that already exists, it is valid, but it’s not everything. I believe that having grown up in a ranch in Monterrey, surrounded by nature, helped me to appreciate and see beautiful things in everything that surrounds me.
FICM: What do you hope to learn from this experience?
GC: I’m not sure, I know I’m very excited about everything I’m going to learn. I want to let me surprise. I remember once I went to Paris, I was thrilled to know that, somehow, people were interested in my beliefs on a personal level. Let’s say that the environment was conducive to creativity and that excites me.
FICM: You said that people in Paris were interested in your beliefs, what is that in what you believe, that motivates you?
GC: I think we’ve all lived bad things, it’s very easy to be negative. Maybe I’m not old enough to have philosophy, but I think there are ways to help people through your profession. A psychologist, for example, helps people to understand themselves and find their own happiness. I feel that telling stories has the same goal; anyone who tells you a story shares advices or teachings. I feel that Guillermo del Toro is doing that and I would like to be able to do the same, at some point I would like to direct. We all have the responsibility to help others.
I lived my whole life with fear, but I learned the value of helping others. Insecurities are our worst enemies and if with my work I can help someone, through a story that can give a little comfort, with that I am happy.
FICM: Do you have a story in mind that you would like to tell?
GC: Yes, I’ve been writing a lot. I just finished the script for an animated science fiction series, where I focus on emotions and psychology.
I have also been working on a history of bullfighter girls with which I want to address failure. There are few stories about people who live under the shadow of others or who are always perceived as enemies; there is very little about those characters who are judged for not redeeming themselves against the politically correct. I believe that stories that do not speak of humans being imperfect and not all of us heroes, are important because suffering is part of our nature. We are in a time when we need stories, that we are not afraid to be corny, that we are not afraid to feel.