Interview: Tom & Hani Animation stop-motion studio (Israel)

Tom & Hani Animation is an Israel animation stop-motion studio from Tel Aviv. Animators Tom Kouris and Hani Dombe are part of Animator´s Calendar for 2018, so we bring you an inspirational interview where successful artists present not only their way of production, but also the possibilities of film´s financing and animation studies in Israel.


Looking at yours portfolio, it is obvious that you have many experiences. How was the idea of setting up a joint animation studio?

It began with the film “Lili”. Each one of us was practicing stop motion for a couple of years and making independent films. Hani was looking for an animator for Lili and that’s how we met. We ended up working together on the whole film. During the work we did some commercials together and it worked well, so after Lili was finished we set up the studio.

Do you have a clearly divided work in your animated movies (or commercial), or do you share all the parts together?

We come from different backgrounds and each one of us has different skills. Usually Hani is responsible for the design and the script and Tom is in charge of the animation and photography, but we work on everything together and sometimes Tom gets to build a set or Hani makes some animation.

Is there a lot of animation studios in Israel like yours? Do you feel any competition?

There are only few studios like ours here, that specialize in stop motion, especially with puppet animation. Unlike the Czech Republic or other European countries, we don’t have a long tradition of puppet animation, it’s relatively new here, maybe except some Claymation artists we have. There are students who study it here and make very nice films but when they graduate usually they turn to other, more commercial, animation techniques.


Where do you find funding sources for your animated projects?

We have a few film funds here that support short films or animation. We got funding for Lili from two of them – Gesher and Mifal Hapais film funds. In addition, now we’re looking for a co-production with other countries for our next film.

How would you assess the development of the animation industry in your country?

The animation industry here is developing especially in the recent years, we have a lot of talents here and lately was established an animation union that is working to bring more awareness and allocate more governmental funds to the animation scene. 


What did you miss when studying the animation?

I think what was most missing is better understanding of the market. But it’s one of those things you really gain with experience. For me, studying an art form like animation is about learning the basics and the different angels of it as well as interacting with fellow students that brings their own point of view and their way of telling stories, and for me that was very productive. I think that once you finish studying than the real hard work and learning begins, it’s a neutral and essential process.


Is level of education in Israel sufficient now according to you?

Yes, very much. I think we have some excellent Art and design schools.


Which Israel or foreign filmmakers inspire you?

I would say filmmakers like Adam Elliot, Ari Folman, Asghar Farhadi, Satoshi Kon, Wes Anderson, and Hayao Miyazaki.


Have you seen any interesting feature animated movie these days?

We liked the Brazilian film “The Boy And the World”, that managed to convey an interesting world in a minimalist line, and also “The Red Turtle”, Michael Dudok de Wit’s film, which was beautiful and sensitive.


Have you been thinking about producing such a format?

At the moment we are focusing on the short format, but we’re already exploring little longer forms, like a web series we’re developing now and a slightly longer film we’re working on. So maybe in the future we’ll get to do a feature film.

Thanks for the interview!




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