Round and Round the Wishing Well Round and Round the Wishing Well

Filmmaker Hugo de Faucompret impressed audiences and juries around the world with his 2021 short film Mum is Pouring Rain. The film won numerous awards during its festival run, including the Annecy jury award for a tv special.

Now, Faucompret and his team are working on the second installment in what will eventually be a trilogy of films, the 78-minute feature Round and Round the Wishing Well. Hot off the heels of pitching their project at Cartoon Movie, the film’s producers have granted Cartoon Brew access to the film’s first teaser.

The video features several clips from Mum as well as a few new bits put together with animation by Camille Chao, fx animation by Martin Touzé, backgrounds by Faucompret, compositing by Nicolas Trotignon, and sound by Paris-based post-production company Piste Rouge.

At Cartoon Movie, Faucompret and his team pitched the project and shared an early synopsis:

In the French countryside, the lovely Doom’s Hamlet is the stage of singular slices of life. It is there that Jane is sent to her grandmother Granny Onion’s, while her mother Cécile needs time to take care of her depression. It is also there, in the forest, that lives Cloclo, the giant musician bum who has taken Jane under his wing. It’s also the place that Granny Onions finally leaves but for good this time. In each of these stories, our characters are shaken by the weather of life, with all its hardship, but also its beauty, festivity, and poetry. With its heavy rains and sunny spells. Three exquisite stories to spark joy.

Although plot details are still being kept mostly under wraps, Faucompret did let us know about some changes that can be expected in the film series’ next installment:

What I can tell you is that we will follow the same bunch of characters (the kids will be two-three years older), Jane being the common thread of the whole story, and Sonia and Leon always by her side. The story will have a special focus on Cloclo, his powerful bond to Nature, and his mysterious origins. We will also learn a bit more about Granny Onions’ life, her relationship with Grandpa, and her commitment to solidarity towards outcast people of society.

Production for the sequel will be executed in much the same way it was for the first film, although Round and Round will introduce a new setting with its own distinct aesthetic. Faucompret explained:

The general artistic direction will stay the same: 2d frame-by-frame animation on hand-painted backgrounds. Nevertheless, to picture The Perpendicular Vale, which is a new setting that will be introduced in the second chapter and which is quite magical and different from our world, we want to stay free to push the style further in terms of animation, backgrounds, and 2dfx. We intend to take some time in pre-production to imagine the way things are and how they move in The Vale, to find the proper logic of this special place.

Round and Round the Wishing Well
Round and Round the Wishing Well concept art by Faucompret
Round and Round the Wishing Well
Round and Round the Wishing Well concept art by Arthus Pilorget, lead background artist.

Backgrounds will be directly inspired by the forests and streams from the Corrèze region in France. To get the look just right, Faucompret plans to take the entire team of artists to visit the area and draw inspiration directly from the untamed terrain.

The broader themes of Round and Round are clear after seeing the teaser or reading the synopsis, but Faucompret has another issue close to his heart that he hopes the film can highlight:

The movie tackles strong topics that really matter to us as writers, Lison D’Andréa and me, and to my producers, Antoine Liétout and Ivan Zuber at Laïdak Films. I realize that a film is never completely apolitical if it is public. I want to use the story, which has many other aspects, to incidentally shed light on the concept of natural burial, which I’ve been researching recently, and is brought up by one of the characters in the third chapter of the film.

It’s the most natural and positive way to leave, by going back in the cycle of life directly into the living soil of the forest like a classical compost. It’s not legal yet, and I have this tiny hope that making an animated movie that talks about it could give a hand to the ones who try to make it happen. It’s an alternative to the cremation or the classical burial we all know, but way less polluting and expensive.

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