Director Clément Du Ruyter fuses French, Japanese and American influences into his own style for the upcoming animation series, “Walter.” In hopes of receiving funds for a toon skein, “Walter” chronicles a man’s journey in a magical forest as he attempts to oust strange creatures from their natural environment. The French series project draws from other man-versus-wildlife comedic animations such as American classics Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd and Wile E. Coyote with a blend of Japanese folklore “Yokai” and traditional European illustrations.
On “Walter,” Lorène Lescanne produces, and the screenplay is by Marie Manand; De Ruyter and Lila Poppins serve as graphic artists.
“Walter” will be presented Thursday at the Annecy MIFA market TV Special and Series pitches.
What inspired you to write this story?
Basically, I just wanted to mix European design with creatures that look Japanese. I really like Paul Grimault and Tomi Ungerer, who do [French] animation films with a very special style. The main character, Walter, is this style, but the creatures were inspired by Japanese culture.
“Walter” is set in a fantastic wild forest; does it have any particular influences from places in the real world?
I knew I wanted the snow and I wanted a volcano, so it works like that. Again with the nature, the Japanese put a lot of gods everywhere, like there is a spirit for the river, a spirit for the forest, and so on and so on. I like this vision of the universe—everything has a soul and lives. The creatures I call them chimeras. I look to put an animal, a plant and another thing together to create not a monster, but an addition to what we have.
Can you tell me about Walter’s character?
The special thing about Walter is that I wanted to create an antihero, not the worst guy ever, just basically a man who interrupts nature to cut some trees. He interacts with nature in a bad way and you can see that because the story is from Walter’s point of view. Nature does play some magical tricks on him, but in a nice way and you can see that Walter is the actual aggressor.
What did you learn from preparing the series?
Well, it’s not done yet, it’s just a project and I’m trying to find some funds during the Annecy Film Festival.
On the Annecy website, it says that the target audience is kids—what message would you like them to take away after watching “Walter”?
The TV series project is really about respecting nature, but in an entertaining way. I want to create this anti-phero who is a family collector in nature. So the message is based on respect, but in a funny way.