Q&A: writer/director Lorenz Wunderle and producer Ramon Schoch on short film ‘Coyote’

By Josh Morris

Coyote is a an animated short film dealing with mature themes such as grief, delusion and their dark influence. Writer/director Lorenz Wunderle and producer Ramon Schoch was gracious enough to answer some questions about the compelling film.

Informer Media Group: I hope when I say I was disturbed by Coyote you will take it as the compliment it is; the film is deeply moving.

Ramon: Haha, yes of course. We love to hear that. It really means we’ve touched your emotions in an unusual way, that’s a huge compliment.

Informer Media Group: Lorenz, this is your first project. What inspired Coyote?

Lorenz: I was inspired from so many TV animations, movies or comics from my past. I grew up with a lot of Hollywood action movies from the late ’90s that were all about good versus evil, betrayal, vengeance, and violence. And I was loving the Loney Tunes or Tom and Jerry as a kid (I still do today). So fictional violence on TV was for me fascinating and I got used to it. Although Tom and Jerry was not bloody violence, they still hurting each other in a funny and entertaining way. But I remember, when I watched Ghost in the Shell in the ’90s where a guy got his head blown away from a gunshot, I was shocked. I didn’t think that you could do that to a cartoon character. So it was a revealing moment for me. After that, I was more into Animations or Anime for an adult audience like The Simpsons, South Park, Akira, Happy Tree Friends, The Ren & Stimpy Show, or some of the Adult Swim stuff like Super Jail and so on.

So my interest was to create a character that is getting pushed aggressively into a corner, that he only could break out with violence. So his violent action in the story should be a cathartic moment. And I was also fascinated about mythological figures or religions like voodoo or Santeria, that are about existing parallel worlds. So I created this demon that wants to make a deal with the coyote and pushes him also to the violent action in a world that the coyote could physically and mentally do.

And I want from the Audience that they understand how people become sorrowful, crazy and obsessed with violent thoughts. And if revenge is the way to deal with the loss, and revenge could lead to a circle of revenge and violence that may never end.

Informer Media Group: Why was a coyote the best way to express that?

Lorenz: I like the Coyote because it is also a mythical animal and especially in North America, there are some mythical stories about the Coyote. That’s why I was interested and inspired to design a Coyote character and the Worlds surrounding him.

Informer Media Group: Can you tell me a little more about the meaning of the buffalo?

Lorenz: The buffalo meant to be a demon that feeds from violence and revenge. You can say he’s the demon of revenge. And he appears a few times to the coyote to push him towards the craziness and the act of the revenge that he wants from the coyote. Also, he could stand for the medieval masculinity that calls for wild justice, like “an eye for an eye” thing.

Informer Media Group: Ramon, why did you want to be involved in this project? What drew you to it?

Ramon: When I first saw the early teaser Lorenz did before we started working together, I was really into the style he used to tell the story. From storytelling, the use of music and of course the drawing style, everything fit together. When we got more into the story itself, I saw the huge potential Lorenz put into it. The Demon as a trigger for violence, the parallel universe, the small details like the teeth of the wolf or the color of the eyes of the coyote. We started to separate everything and asked us, what’s the best use for it to help to tell the story we wanted.

Informer Media Group: Lorenz, Ramon, why did you chose to study animation? What is about animation that is so powerful?

Lorenz: For me personally, I think animation has the ability to create a unique expression in imagery and storytelling. It fits for my imagination and it’s easier for me to translate my thoughts and stories into images or movies. But it’s also a challenge to come up with something fresh. I guess for me, animation has no limitation of creating a special character in a weird world and display it on the screen. And animation still matters today, because it is an artistic instrument to deliver a story in a visually unique, different and interesting way.

Ramon: Totally agree with that. Animation is such an artistic way to express your thoughts. You do have the art of filmmaking, the art of painting, character design, the animation itself, timing, music, sound design, and so on. Every animated short is such a unique piece of art. And you don’t have all this ‚rules’ like physics or anatomy. You can squeeze that face expression out of the character the way you need it to tell the emotion you want to.

Informer Media Group: What animation “style” would you call this?

Ramon: Well, I don’t like to categorize it. It’s just the COYOTE style, the style which fits the story we wanted to tell. You can’t use exactly this style in another project with another story. That’s why it doesn’t need a name.

Lorenz: You can call it the trashy, rotten, cartoony style.

Informer Media Group: I’d like to talk about the song “Coyote Soul” a little bit. As someone who dabbles in songwriting, I found it powerful in its own right. But as the film doesn’t have dialogue, the lyrics of the song felt particularly emphatic. Lorenz, can you tell me about the process of writing this and collaborating on it?

Lorenz: Since I started with the idea of Coyote, I knew that I’ll use a country song. I’d like especially the song of Patsy Cline’s I Fall to Pieces and I find the song title ironic to my splatter moments in my short when the Coyote cutting the Wolfs into pieces. But we could not afford the rights to use the song, so that’s why I took the chance to write the lyrics to Coyote down. I was listening more to other county music during the work and so I got inspired to translate the story script into a song lyric. And Rahel Zimmermann was the talent that created the music and Yumi Ito was the singer that fitted and sung the song. And I was so hyped that it came out like that and that we took this approach to find a unique song.

Informer Media Group: The song is heard twice in the film… on the drive to the bar and during the credits. Can you tell me why you chose to use it in the film where you did?

Lorenz: When the song started after the tragic and weird experience of the Coyote, it feels like, that the country song is giving a sense of relief and ironic touch. And when you’re able to listen to the lyrics, it provides also a little hint to that what happend to him.

Informer Media Group: Any plans to release it separately?

Lorenz: Rahel has put it on Soundcloud.

Informer Media Group: What’s next for you both?

Lorenz: The YK Animation Studio is pretty busy with upcoming new animation shorts and I’m mostly assisting the projects in storyboarding, character design or animation. But my main focus would be now to trying to develop an idea for an animation series. I’m hoping that I’m able to show something at the end of this year.

Ramon: We have just finished a new short called Laugh Lines, directed by Patricia Wenger. A totally different film then COYOTE, about friendship. It will have the International Premiere at the Warsaw Film Festival this October. Hope to see you there! And, like Lorenz said, we are already working on new projects. Actually w,e have four shorts in the pipeline.

Informer Media Group: Where can people learn more about you / your projects?

Ramon: Just follow @lorenzworksforburgers and @ykanimation on Instagram or @ykanimation on twitter. Or visit our websites, wunder-blog.tumblr.com, and yk-animation.ch and subscribe to our newsletter. Or just visit us in Bern, Switzerland. We’d love to offer coffee to our visitors!

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