Propaganda deprives people of empathy and turns them into inanimate objects that serve as fuel for the creation of a new kind of society – faceless and soulless.

Music videos have become powerful tools to send political and social messages over the years, and the trend only seems to be growing. Monetochka‘s ‘Burn’ directed by Lado Kvataniya does just that in a sombre animated short tackling modern day propaganda. We spoke with the director and visual artist Sergey Kolesov who told us a little more on the film:

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

Lado Kvataniya – director:

The main task of propaganda is to give a reason for a human being to do absolutely nothing. In view of recent events, I began to observe this destructive process both within myself and in my environment. A huge amount of contradicting information coming from different sources does not allow us to formulate an objective picture of the world: what is really happening now. As a result, there is a complete lack of empathy – thus, a protective internal mechanism is triggered. While working on the “Burn”, I came up with the image of a person who, losing empathy, freezes and turns into an inanimate object – literally into a piece of furniture.

We are in the next era of the transformation of society – at the time of the formation of a new type of human being. And when a person, not wanting to fall into the zone of turbulence, for reasons of his own safety, chooses to disconnect his consciousness from reality, trying to pretend that nothing is happening – he literally turns into a piece of furniture. At first glance, this defense mechanism seems acceptable. But acquired indifference becomes the fuel that is being used by those who benefit from it.

What animation technique was used in the film?

Sergey Kolesov – visual artist and key animator:

All the animation is done digitally, mostly in 3d using hand-painted textures. The key to art direction was minimalistic style, so the result is obvious low-poly look of the scenes and characters with quite simple global light. However to enrich the visual impression there was a special attention to the textures which were painted with significant detailing when compared to the simplicity of the 3d objects themselves. There is a little bit of 2d frame to frame animation also which was used as a TV picture and animated textures here and there.

Did you work with the artist to define the idea and concept, or did you have carte blanche?

Lado Kvataniya – director:

It was an absolute carte blanche. Initially, the studio version of the track “Burn, burn, burn” was released in August 2019. The release was dedicated to a massive wildfires in Siberia and the catastrophic consequences afterwards. In 2022, the song took on a new meaning. Monetochka, her friends and I used to discuss the problems of society’s militarization, leaderism, and revanchism. We used to watch with horror the indifference of those in power to the destruction of the forest, however today, as in a nightmare, to the destruction of human lives. We’ve tried to work together before, but it’s all worked out now. So Monetochka offered me to shoot a video for the “Burn”, I gathered a great team, and this is how eventually we gave the birth to our video.

The style is very particular, can you tell us where it stems from?

Sergey Kolesov – visual artist and key animator:

The overall style comes naturally from my style which I have been developing during the last couple of years. Talking about main influences the following art-styles can be mentioned: video-games like INSIDE, Creaks. As I was working as a concept artist in game industry for a long time, the low-poly style was chosen, which allowed to gain the general bizarre look to the scenery and the characters and allowed to speed up the process of creation, while concentrating mostly on composition and storytelling, rather than the refined look of the assets.

What do you hope people will take away from Burn?

Lado Kvataniya – director:

I wish people didn’t turn into inanimate objects. I’d like them to keep their empathy. Partly it’s a satirical work and I would like people watching this clip understand that any silent consent turns them into something inanimate, deprives them of the opportunity to feel, think and empathize with what is going on around them. This is what irrevocably leads to the fact that we are deprived of the opportunity to assess, emotionally and intellectually, the chaos that is around us. And it turns us into a part of this static world where we are offered not to decide anything, but simply to observe.

What are your favorite short films?

Lado Kvataniya – director:

One of my favorite short films is «Le Ballon Rouge». This outstanding work in its short format tells a heartbreaking touching story of how an inanimate object becomes a symbol, partly an image of growing up.

Which films you can say directly inspired this film?

Lado Kvataniya – director:

It may sound strange but there is no particular source of inspiration. There is a reality that surrounds you and you need to relay it, refract and reflect the processes that take place inside you. It is very important that this style of animation was born on the basis of a wonderful vision of my co-author SergeyKolesov, who acted as the animator of this work.

The most important thing I would like to note is that together with Sergey we agreed that the animation should be angular, rough. You know, when you slide down a tree with your hand, splinters remain on your fingers? This feeling of angularity should be the main one. Because the current world in Russia is very prickly and very painful. It’s uneven, distorted, and leaves scratches all over your body when you interact with it.