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INTERVIEW: Fede Ponce, Director Of Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey

Written by Robert Porter

We had a chance to sit down and speak with Fede Ponce, creator and director of the upcoming Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey series! This series is all about the power of dreams, so why don’t you go and take a look at the official website and consider donating to Fede’s Kickstarter campaign so Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey can become a reality! Be sure to check out the trailer, it will knock your socks off! Let’s begin.

AP2HYC: Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey.

Ponce: Sebastian was born out of the stories my younger brother and I used to tell each other when we had to separate due to life’s circumstances. It was a way for both of us to create a world where we could play and meet. As we grew older that world became more important because it created a safe place for us to engage.

AP2HYC: The emphasis on dreams can potentially send a strong message to a world that is constantly distracted by cell phones, tablets, and other devices. Was this something that you had intended?

Ponce: YES. 100%, and thank you for noting that. How can we say that we are present in the moment when we are constantly being shifted from projected reality to projected reality? We bounce from screen to screen and we lose sense of consequence and reality. It’s all an illusion. Your 5,000 Facebook friends, your 2,000 Instagram buddies; it’s not human connection, it’s human diversion.

Forget about distraction; we are actively rewiring our brains and the results so far are depression, loss of memory, isolation, violence. Something’s not quite right. You can say that we are just starting to awaken to the sense that the world is a living organism and we are killing it…poisoning it with our pollution. Perhaps in a few years we will awaken to the fact that there is also mind pollution or pollution for consciousness- whatever name you want to give it. Technology is great but we have not stopped to ask what is the price that we are paying for convenience.

slumbercat

AP2HYC: Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey has the whole “dystopian utopia” thing going on. What were some of your inspirations for this?

Ponce: We can start with 1984, but the notion that the world can be reduced to one master ruler seems a bit silly to me. The world is massive and Sebastian’s utopia is quite simple in its upper layer, but once we delve deeper into it, it will get messy and very complex. The main thing to take away from this story is that neither Vigilas nor Slumberland are perfect. They both have risks and they both offer rewards; however, both worlds also take a heavy toll on their inhabitants.

AP2HYC: The trailer on your Kickstarter campaign is absolutely mesmerizing. Can we expect more of these stunning visuals from Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey in the future?

Ponce: Thank you so much for your kind words. That means the world to me. The trailer was made on a shoestring budget. The effects were all done on my computer so I did the best with what I have, but I can guarantee you that with a solid budget I will be able to take this to the next level and blow everyone away. Just to give you some perspective: every episode of Game of Thrones costs approximately 6 million dollars (U.S.) to make. I want to deliver that quality, so let’s make sure we surpass our goal! I am so eager to show that a crowd funded project can compete with the big boys.

AP2HYC: You have done work on video game cinematics. Has this influenced the visual style of Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey at all?

Ponce: I think in terms of technique, yes, but visually I am trying to stay away from everything that has become “the norm.”

AP2HYC: Will this be an ongoing project? Or is it intended to be a mini-series?

Ponce: It’s a three season series that follows Sebastian from childhood to perhaps the bitter end. And hopefully we will expand the universe through comic books.

AP2HYC: Are you as involved with the graphic novel as the film?

Ponce: YES!! 100%. Little secret here…I am a huge comic book and graphic novel geek. I don’t follow a particular saga or story, I just love the art and I am lucky enough to live close by to a really cool store. But yes the graphic novel and comic will delve into deeper aspects of the story and a lot of backstories.

Sebastian in his comic and film incarnations

Sebastian in his comic and film incarnations

AP2HYC: Is there anything you can give away that we don’t already know about the story without spoiling too much?

Ponce: Well what I like the most about the story is that it is massive, and I can’t wait to explore all of it and show the viewers new worlds and characters; defy their conventions. It won’t be easy, but I am up for it.

AP2HYC: You are directing Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey and creating many of the effects as well. When do you sleep?

Ponce: (laughs) Discipline and persistence are the key my friend. That’s really the key I think to a lot of things, despite talent. If you don’t have grit…forget it. So what I try to do is to keep a tight schedule. Wake up at 5:30-6:00am. Meditate, box, or surf. I shift between all those. I find an ice cold shower early in the morning jolts the system!

I eat breakfast and begin working right away all the way up to 11:30-12:00am and then just rinse, wash, repeat. I don’t really think of the week in terms of Monday through Sunday. It’s all just a really long day to me. Well perhaps except for Sunday. Sunday is disconnect-from-everything day where I completely submerge myself in family life.

AP2HYC: What are some works, in film or otherwise, that have inspired you as a director?

Ponce: From Terry Gilliam: I admire his inventiveness and guts to make cool new things. I love that he also imbues then with deep social commentary. From Danny Boyle I admire everything! His uncanny sense of pacing, his musical sensibility, his ability with the camera, I mean to me he is one of the best directors living today. My dream would be to work with him. I met him briefly once and I was blown away by his humbleness. He is the most down to earth person I have ever met in the industry…well, maybe Alfonso Cuaron too. I love Alfonso’s work. I think it’s very fresh and inventive; same with Guillermo del Toro.

Alejandro Inarritu I respect a lot because he seems like a very intense guy and his work reflects that. George Miller is another brilliant director in my eyes. He understands symbolism and storytelling in a way that I have not seen before. And, if you see a common thread here it is that most of these artists are genre-less. They can bounce from genre to genre and create amazing work. That’s my goal.

If I go into books and authors I’ll never stop (laughs), so anything Arthur Schopenhauer, Joseph Campbell, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Matthew Riccard, Thomas Moore, etc.

AP2HYC: Thanks Fede, it was a pleasure!

Sebastian: The Slumberland Odyssey is shaping up to be an incredible experience, and you can support it now on Kickstarter!

About the author

Robert Porter