Le Schmurtz: it’s a thingamabob, a gizmo, a doodad. This insignificant thing was initially made into a play by Boris Vian. La Menagerie - a company from Toulouse - transformed it into sound and images, making short animated films where the passerby becomes an actor, a prop, an accessory or a simply a bystander.
During the festival, the troupe chooses a location according to their whims and fancies. There, they set up their equipment like a small film crew would. After inventing scenarios, they do a live, public broadcast of the imaginative treasures they acquired during their experience in professional cinematography.
“The idea is to take techniques from inside the studios and bring them out in the open,” explains Joanna Jéquier. “We have been doing Le Schmurtz for about fifteen years. It is a new creation every time, depending on the ambiance of the event. For the Festival, we will focus on music as a theme. We will use accessories such as cardboard musical notes, instruments made out of paper, small orchestras, and a whole other vocabulary of accessories that will be animated picture by picture and captured in film.”
To bring these movies to life, La Ménagerie depends on audience participation. “People are always curious. They stop, observe and take the plunge when they realize that it’s not dangerous (laughs). This can last five or fifteen minutes, depending on the role they want to play. We have a few basic scenarios but we improvise a lot depending on the location.”
In the midst of it all, a soundtrack is created. The construction of the mini-films can be observed on a screen. Every shot implements animation tricks and special effects. For instance, a John Doe can be transformed into a superhero before disappearing under a puff of smoke or an explosion of color. Then, once the night falls, the completed pieces will be shown on the big screen located at the Place du Château.