Conversation with Roger Kupelian: Part Two


ROGER:  Looking at your characters from both your Tree series and especially Cyprus, who’s your pocket favourite?

And regarding the dejected People of Anatolia and the Caucasus, What’s the way forward for us?

MARY: Let’s see… I feel strongly for all of my characters, otherwise I wouldn’t write them. If by “favourite” you mean one that possesses me, whom I grapple with heart and soul, it would be Mitra, the mother in my Cypriot story. She isn’t easy to write: not a romantic heroine in a traditional sense, she nevertheless has a strong personality. She endures a great deal of suffering. It’s a challenge to write that sort of character and keep her active and engaging. Work in progress!

You ask a difficult question about ways forward. To look at the current situation in the Middle East is to court depression. I don’t know the way forward. I see people bickering as they have for centuries, embroiled in tribal warfare. I also see a new kind of trans-national and trans-tribal warfare, based on apocalyptic religious ideas that mean nothing to me. As much as I’d like to answer the question with one simple word – “cooperation” – it seems impossible to achieve at the moment.

On the other hand, people do reach a tipping point. After a few decades of entrenched problems they turn around and change their minds. Witness the situation in Cyprus. Bit by bit we move forward. What do you think? Do you feel dejected?

ROGER:  What do I feel? Honestly, due to a variety of challenges last year, survival has been on my mind. Everything else is pretty much a whole lifetime of exposure.  Every country linked to my formational identity is having a rough time of it.

Sierra Leone.  Lebanon.  Armenia.  Umm, Glendale?

I continue doing what I do because I can’t help it.  I’m not playing violins all day every day but if you don’t acknowledge reality it will simply blindside you sooner or later.

MARY: The news from Sierra Leone hawarriorsaints3s been devastating. It seems some places have a rough time of it on an ongoing basis, and Sierra Leone is one of them. I kept wondering why it was taking the rich countries so long to intervene in the Ebola crisis. The clock was ticking, people were dying. There was a degree of cynicism evinced by people in the UK towards those suffering, which I found intolerable. I sometimes felt like shaking some sense into people (especially when I made the mistake of reading comments on online news articles). What would they do if whole villages in Suffolk were dying off, I wonder? Would they stay within the reach of a deadly disease, or try every means of escape at their disposal? The lack of empathy amazes me.

ROGER:  People are really in a calamity-fatigue climate. So much is going wrong with this world, they don’t see the possibilities. Just the cynicism. Humans are predisposed to end-world scenarios.

MARY: Well. Now that we’ve ended the world, what do you want to talk about next?

ROGER:  I’d want to revisit why people leave a lucrative animation career and go off reservation.

MARY: Possibly because they were never ‘on reservation’ in the first place? 🙂

I never seem to be able to do what’s expected of me, which has its advantages and disadvantages. But I’ve watched far better people than me forge animation careers at the best companies, after which life blindsides them, anyway. The best laid plans of mice and men, and so on.

As I get older I care even less about what I “should” do. I suspect that by the time I’m 60, I’ll be a full on rebel, living on a commune and growing hydroponics. What about you? Do you miss that world of VFX?

RogerdirectingROGER:  In a way I’m still in it. And I love VFX. EoB was my way of finding the passion again. To me, VFX is part of This Director’s toolkit.

MARY: Tell me what your dreams and hopes are for the coming years.

ROGER:  In terms of work, my dream for the future is that I can take a lot of these stories that are bubbling up inside my head and put them in the graphic novel format. I would like to collaborate further with other artists and creating things that inspire people. Plus, there are a few other documentaries I would love to do. And I would like to do a bunch of things abroad.



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