As part of Netflix’s ‘African Folktales, Reimagined’ short film anthology in partnership with UNESCO, Framestore’s own Mohamed Echkouna created and directed the 17-minute film Enmity Djinn. Based on local Mauritanian Djinn folktales, the story follows an ancient Enmity Djinn three generations after he was last summoned, finding himself in an unfamiliar city confronted by a familiar foe.
As one of only six storytellers selected from over 2000 applicants, Echkouna was the recipient of a $90,000 budget and creative mentorship from filmmaker Femi Odugbemi to help bring his story to life.
“The film is inspired by memories from my childhood growing up in Mauritania and stories told by my grandmother,” said Echkouna. “The Djinn character and VFX are inspired by No Face and the Soot Sprites from Spirited Away, as well as the intriguing photography of Mous Lamrabat.”
Echkouna partnered with Framestore on approximately 64 VFX shots, including two key sequences and the ethereal look of the Djinn character throughout the film. The VFX brief emphasized etherealism, subtlety and a grounded look for the dissipation and burning of the Djinn. The CG and Compositing teams focused their efforts on burning sandy black particles and cloth simulations, combined with layers of heat haze and subtle black wisps, developing a robust tool with complex layers of wisps and blurs.
“The more complex sequences involved compositing using similar techniques to the general look, as well as integrating multiple layers of FX simulations,” said Framestore Lead Compositor, Avery Herzog. “The goal was to create something otherworldly for the overall look, but for the Djinn’s death to have it be more active and tangible.”
Nearly 40 shots utilized the Djinn look treatment, and also required the team to rotoscope him in every scene. The overall look was designed to be procedural, using layers of noise driven by practical elements to maintain an organic look with a high volume of shots. Elements of fire and smoke were aligned at the top of the script and fed into a stamp, and the template used these stamps intermittently to blend, mask, and drive the effects.
“Framestore played a key role in enhancing the Djinn character look throughout and making him feel otherworldly, yet grounded in his environment,” continued Echkouna. “I am thankful and privileged to have been able to work with my friends and colleagues at Framestore. Everyone went above and beyond to enhance the character's personality and set the rules of his world. I also loved how much we embrace collective problem solving and exchange of knowledge. There was guidance and mentorship from within the team throughout the pre and post-production process.”
Company 3 was responsible for the color grade, sound design and final delivery.