16 October 2022 / Annie Waite

Film Director: Aristotelis Marakgos

We chat with director-animator about his painstaking collage animation based on a Stephen King novella, screening on 29 October as part of Coastal Currents 2022.

Film director and animator, Aristotelis Maragkos, will be screening his staggering new feature Timekeepers of Eternity at the Electric Palace later this month.

Timekeepers of Eternity was born from the Stephen King novella The Langoliers, which was adapted into a 1995 TV movie. Aristotelis painstakingly printed every frame of the movie to paper, reshaping it through black and white collage animation.

We take a moment to chat with Hastings (and Greece) resident, Aristotelis, about his filmmaking background, and delve into how this ambitious and painstaking production came about. Hopefully, you can come along to marvel at the film yourself when it screens on Saturday 29 October.

Why did you decide to recreate the 1995 TV movie of The Langoliers into a black and white animation?

I watched The Langoliers when I was really young and the film stuck with me for a long time. It was the scariest experience ever. When I revisited years later, it was not the same as I remembered.

In my memory the film had become monumental: the performances, the tension, the pace. So when I saw the real film again, it failed to leave up to my expectations. I do not blame The Langoliers for that, but I saw the opportunity to discover what I found truly interesting and scary about it. I hoped there would be a way to uncover the memory of the film from my youth and address the incredible performance of Bronson Pinchot as Craig Toomey.

What gave you the idea to use the technique to recreate the film?

Clippings of paper laid out on tableThe paper animation sprung from the character in the film played by Bronson Pinchot and his obsession with ripping paper. I was troubled for a long time about rediscovering The Langoliers, but I wasn't planning on making a paper animation film. My approach was more of a free fall. And paper came after understanding the story I was trying to approach.

How long did it take you to recreate?

From idea to finish it took about three and a half years. But it was mainly the nights.

What was the process you followed for putting the film together?

When I started I did not know the length, the technique or whether I would be able to share the finished film. But I have been endlessly fascinated by found footage appropriations, especially within genre cinema. I began by reediting The Langoliers. I then printed scenes in linear order and attempted to attach the paper materiality in the edit, making collages for each new frame and rephotographing them.

Man screaming with text 'Timekeepers of Eternity' aboveAs I was animating sequences and rediscovering the edit anew I was also improving as an animator which reflects within the film as it the plot gradually becomes more complex and the mystery unravels. I intentionally chose not to work with storyboards or planning the animation ahead but I was inventing it on the spot as the combination of shots commanded.

The reason for that was to engage with the madness of Mr Toomey and his fascination with tearing paper, using the process as the gateway. Towards the end of my process I worked with sound designer lowtronik (also an amazing musician), and Amulets, who goes through analogue processes in his music, to help me with reinventing the soundtrack. I am really happy with the result, I think the sound brings the visuals together. 

Were there times when you were midway through the project that you considered giving up, given how long it took to complete?

I truly enjoyed making the film and although it may seem tedious it was a great experience for me. Having said that I believe I felt I should give up from the first day!

Are you planning to use the same technique on any other films or TV?

One can only hope.

Can you share some background info about your filmmaking experience? What other films have you been involved with?

I enjoy making films of all kinds, not just paper animated found footage appropriations. But as I get older I find comfort in genre films. I have made a variety of short films, experimenting with techniques, and I am currently in production of my first live action feature. If it all goes well, next project will be a home-invasion horror.

Find out more on the Aristotelis Maragkos website.

About Timekeepers of Eternity

Man lying down with ripped paper and field above himOn a redeye flight between Boston to LA, a group of strangers awake to the surreal discovery that the plane's crew and passengers have disappeared. Those that remain force an emergency landing to a nearby airport and find an outside world devoid of all life. Tensions mount as this cosmic anomaly tests the sanity of the passengers. All the while an ominous sound draws closer, suggesting an impending doom.

Born from the Stephen King novella The Langoliers - which was adapted into a 1995 TV movie - animator Aristotelis Maragkos painstakingly printed every frame of the movie to paper, reshaping it through black and white collage animation. Surreal distortions and reconstructions manifest the drama as literal tears and crinkles at the frame.

The result is a film that uses its own form not only to express its unnerving narrative but to magnify the performance of its cast, and remain a supremely entertaining masterstroke of remix art.

“A shining example of the infinite creative lifespan of art" - Silver Linings

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