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The fabulous tale of 'Oktapodi'

Text by Daphné SEGRETAIN

Latest update : 2009-02-23

'Oktapodi' lost out to Japan's 'House of Small Cubes' in the short animated film category. FRANCE 24 met with the film-makers: six directors from different backgrounds who teamed up at the Gobelins Film School in Paris.

From the creative team of the Gobelins Film School in Paris comes 'Oktapodi', nominated in the category of Animated Short Film at the 81st Academy Awards this year.

'Oktapodi' was running against 'Presto' from Pixar, 'Lavatory Love Story' from Russia, 'The House of Small Cubes' and 'This Way Up' from the UK. As it turned out, this tale of the misadventures of two octopi running away from a chef lost out to the Japanese-made 'House of Small Cubes'.

'We are octopus experts'

Oliver Delabarre, one of the directors of Oktapodi, said, "We got the idea from flipping through an art book of Peter de Sève [character designer for Dreamworks, Pixar, and Blue Sky]. I saw two sketches of octopi that struck me as being quite out of the ordinary. I thought it would be great to do a story with characters like these."

He and his team developed prototypes. "These are fascinating animals,' adds co-director Quentin Marmier. 'But unfortunately we had to concentrate on certain traits in order not to go over time."

Team of six

It took almost seven months of intense work to make two minutes and 27 seconds of animated film. The six collaborators each took different roles in developing 3D, the décor and the visual development of the film.  “The hardest part?," says Delabarre. "Getting six people to agree. There were quite a few conflicts. But in the end these were productive because we’ve won ten prizes already, including Best of Show at Siggraph in Los Angeles.”


The six directors,  from different backgrounds, all originally teamed up at the Gobelins Film School in Paris.

Julien Bocabeille did a year of preparatory schooling at the Sèvres studio in Paris before joining Gobelins. François-Xavier was in his final year at the Animation School of Angoulême (EMCA) when he jointly attended Gobelins.

Olivier Delabarre studied art in Lyon (Emile-Cohl). Emud Mokhberi studied his final year at Gobelins after having attained a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the prestigious UCLA in the US. Thierry Marchand got his engineering degree in telecommunications and new technologies at Caen in 2002. Before attending the Gobelins, he worked as an engineer for two years. There they all met Quentin Marmier, who spent three years at the school.

A Promising Business Card

In 2007, for their graduate theses, the six students produced 'Oktapodi'. At the time, they were leaning toward an animated film that would help them later on in the job market. It was a good gamble.

Bocabeille and Marchand now work at Dreamworks in Bangalore, India. Mokhberi lives in Los Angeles, working for Sony Pictures. Marmier and François-Xavier work at post-production companies in Paris. Delabarre works in Paris as well, at MacGuff, a studio devoted to digital visual effects.


In addition to 'Oktapodi', France has other Oscar entries, such as Laurent Cantet’s 'The Class' ('Entre les murs'), nominated for Best Foreign Film. Alexandre Desplat, a Frenchman, was nominated for Best Original Score, which he wrote for 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'. And 'Manon sur le Bitume', by Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont, is up for Best Live Action Short.

Date created : 2009-02-22