Crédit: Mehrnaz Abdollahinia
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Mehrnaz Abdollahinia, 3D Visualization Artist and director dedicated to women's rights

18 avril 2023 Portraits
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Mehrnaz Abdollahinia worked for a decade as a 3D artist in Iran and France, before returning to school with the Master of Arts in Character Animation & Animated Filmmaking at GOBELINS Paris (class of 2021). « The Soloist », her graduation film, won the prestigious Best Student Film  at the 50th Annie Awards this year.

Can you tell us more about your background ?

I come from a music and CG background. I began playing the piano at the age of 6 and later, despite lots of limitations I faced as a woman, I learned to play the cello as well and became a choir singer for the Mashhad and Tehran City choir group.


After getting my graphic diploma, the only relevant major for continuing my education in digital art was computer software! So, I received my Bachelor of Computer Engineering in 2009, but my passion for digital art drove me to teach myself CG-animation to become a 3D artist and 3D-animator


Although I faced limitations as a young girl and was not allowed to attend an art university in another city, I never gave up on my love for art and my dream of becoming an artist. Throughout those years, I was also a piano and solfege teacher.




Why did you choose to study at GOBELINS Paris ?

Back in my country, with over 10 years of professional experience, I had the opportunity to work on various projects and collaborate with animation studios and film companies which helped me to get a deep understanding of designs, artistic styles, animation and the importance of composition and timing.


I felt the need to take a break from my work and focus on learning how to tell my stories and bring them to life into the international animation world. 


Getting accepted by GOBELINS was like a dream come true for me! I learned how to write stories that would effectively capture the attention of audiences and convey important messages. I also discovered how to twist some of my personal, sad experiences into engaging and enjoyable narratives like our shortfilmThe Soloists


I was so lucky to learn lots of amazing lessons from great teachers such as Cecile Blondel and Marjane Satrapi. I could also make incredible international friends who inspire and show me the best and most beautiful things in the world that cannot be seen or even touched but can be felt with the heart.




Mehrnaz Abdollahinia at the GOBELINS Paris graduation ceremony

Mehrnaz Abdollahinia at the GOBELINS Paris graduation ceremony

You are currently a 3D Visualization Artist at The Third Floor in London, what is your job ?

Since 2021, I have been working as senior visualization artist, also known as "previs, postvis and techvis" which involves creating material that reflects a director's cinematic vision for a film. 


At The Third Floor company, I create 3D shots with strong animation key poses for characters and creatures while also developing effective cameras that capture the visual presentation of a film. 


As a 3D visualization artist, my job is very similar to a storyboard artist, but with more emphasis on a wide range of details such as composition, timing, lighting, and visual effects in addition to layout, animation, and camera movements.


I have had the chance to work on many projects such as live-action films, TV series, and CG games during my time at this amazing company. One of the CG games that I worked on, called "Horizon Forbidden West",   was also nominated for the 50th Annie Awards in 2022.


The most amazing part of my job is that I enjoy the creative process of finding the best way to convey the message of the story in each and every sequence. 




You and your team received the Annie award for "The Soloists" last February, what does this distinction mean to you ?

Winning the Annie award for "The Soloists" was an incredible honor for me and my team. As a director, it's always rewarding to see your hard work and vision recognized and celebrated, and this award was a testament to the dedication and passion that we poured into this project


It's also a reminder that no matter what obstacles I may encounter along the way, I can still achieve greatness and make my mark in the world. To me this award is a powerful symbol of what I can achieve when I push myself beyond the limits and believe in my dreams. 


As a filmmaker, I firmly believe in the power of truth and honesty. This award is a humbling reminder that by remaining open-minded, working hard, and staying true to our message, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. I am grateful for this recognition and hope that it inspires other aspiring artists to stay true to their own artistic voice, and to never lose sight of the transformative power of film and animation.




What message did you want to send to the public with "The Soloists" ?

"The Soloists" is based on my personal experiences. When I shared it with my team and teachers at GOBELINS, they were shocked that in this day and century, there are still places that impose absurd laws and beliefs on people, particularly women. With the guidance of my wonderful teacher, Cecile Blondel, I learned how to twist it with a bittersweet flavor and give it an international appeal


My goal was to instill a sense of hope and optimism in our viewers. Me and my team wanted to showcase that even in the darkest of times, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Through our film, we aimed to shed light on the persistent discrimination and injustice that plagues our world today and to inspire others to stand up and make a difference


We were determined to create a unique and powerful piece that would leave a lasting impact on those who watch it. I sincerely hope that our work will serve as a catalyst for change and awareness, spurring individuals across the globe to unite and take a stand against these archaic and oppressive beliefs




Do you plan to direct other projects with the team members of "The Soloists" ?

As a team, we formed a close bond and I believe that this played a vital role in our success. "The Soloists", has been officially selected by over 115 international festivals and was a finalist at the prestigious Bafta Academy. It has received 23 international awards from these festivals, including the honor of Winning the Best Student Film at the 50th Annie Awards


Our tremendous success demonstrates how we were able to work together seamlessly and professionally. I am always eager to collaborate with kind and professional individuals. 




"The Soloists" team with their award at the Annies Awards ceremony

"The Soloists" team with their award at the Annies Awards ceremony

Are you currently working on a personal project ?

As I have come from a country with rich cultural heritage that is full of ancient and legendary fictions and poems I believe there is a potential and a profitable market for these stories. I am dedicated to advancing these projects during my free time.  


Moreover, as a woman who has lived through numerous challenges and overcome countless obstacles, I am filled with a deep sense of purpose and passion to share my stories. I believe that my experiences can serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for many people, young girls and women, who may be struggling to find their own way in the world and pursuing their desired future. 




How do you imagine the next step in your career ?

My passion for animation is driven by a desire to inspire young women who share my dream. Last year, I was privileged to participate in a panel at the Dingle Animation Festival of Ireland. We discussed the statistics surrounding women in the Animation industry, with only 12 percent of directing roles going to women as of 2020.


This reality has fueled my determination to promote change and equality in the field therefore, I hope that one day women and men alike will have the same opportunities, and these panels will become obsolete, but until that day, women still need to be supported strongly by the professionals who could help




Mehrnaz Abdollahinia at the Annies Awards ceremony

Mehrnaz Abdollahinia at the Annies Awards ceremony

What advice would you give to a new graduate ?

In my humble opinion, the greatest advice I can give is to remain open-minded, to step out of your comfort zone and take a riskAs students, it's okay to make mistakes because these missteps are essential for learning valuable lessons.


Seek feedback from professionals and trusted peers; this will help you grow and develop your craft. By embracing this mindset, you'll see your work flourish beyond what you ever imagined possible.







Interview by Sophie Jean 


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