Andrea Vinciguerra and his TV series project “Postcards from the Blue Crab”

A London TV Pitchbox Special Mention

From the coasts of Sicily comes the story Andrea Vinciguerra has crafted around the colony of fish that live in a waterbed within a grubby motel in the US. It’s fishy inhabitants will observe and comment on their sad, monotonous lives, while all sorts of attempts at sex, mediocre sex and couples arguments pass in front of their noses. We talked to him about his work on this very original project as well as other film related things.

FMH:Tell us a little bit about yourself, why did you decide to become a filmmaker? Where did you study? How did you start your career in film?

A.V: I started out in music, back when I was a teenager I was playing in several punk bands in Palermo (Sicily) where I come from. I began to create music videos for my bands and friend’s bands. I also had always an interest in visual arts, I worked briefly as a graphic designer and owned a clothing brand with some friends. After my degree, I decided to give up on music and progressively moved my interest on to film.

Five/six years ago I moved to London and since then I’ve been creating music promos, commercials and films with London production companies that represent me.

FMH: Do you have any other work in film, TV or advertisement? Can you show us/ tell us about your most noted work up until now?

A.V: In the last few years, I was lucky enough to get the chance to create music vids for some really exciting bands and music projects.

The two videos I did for Moon Bounce, a talented music producer based in LA, are probably the videos which I’m more proud of, especially for the ridiculous budget I had to make them.

Commercial-wise I did some work for nice clients as Channel 4 and Royal Bank of Scotland but the highest point still remains an ad I directed for an anti-diarrheal product which I loved! I would love people to remember me for this work actually. It’s pretty hardcore.

Talking about films, I’ve got a 15 minute short called “Teeth and Pills” currently making its way through the international festival race. It took two years but I’m really proud of what we achieved and also quite happy so far as in less than six months it was selected from more than ten different festivals around the world, including BAFTA qualifying LSFF 2019.

I have a website and a Vimeo account, all my work is there.

FMH: Tell us about your project, “POSTCARDS FROM THE BLUE CRAB ”, how did it come about?

A.V: A couple of years ago I casually met a couple in a random London night out. I don’t remember why but at some point the chit-chat went to the argument of “the first time”. Basically, their first time together was on a waterbed. That stroke me as something magical, and I immediately thought about fish living inside the water mattress and awkwardly peep out at the couple during their act. I know, that’s weird right? Anyway, point is, I saw potential in that quirky idea and the year after I pitched the concept for a commercial of a well known UK sex shop brand. The idea was having a city of fish inside the waterbed and a council meeting discussing and complaining about the fact that recently it became impossible to have a proper night’s sleep.

Before, when the husband was around, it was really fine for the fish but when he left and the wife bought the brand new dildo it became a nightmare for the poor sea creatures. She was making too much noise!! There was also a really fun hermit-crab character with an Indian accent.

Fortunately, they refused the idea, because one year after I thought: “Hey, that was a nice idea for an animated series” and here we are.

FMH: I read the dossier and the pilot for “POSTCARDS FROM THE BLUE CRAB ” and I loved the whole concept from the start. Writing a comedy show that is inspired in “Bojack Horseman”, but also some other comedy figures like Louis C.K, Larry David…all from the perspective of fish, sounds like something that can be really funny, yet can carry a lot of sadness at the same time.

Why do you think these kinds of comedy shows have become so popular nowadays? Are we fed up with the more optimistic or less-realistic and more escapist comedies we used to see on TV?

A.V: Well, it’s probably quite a long and complex topic to cover in a few lines but in my opinion the point is that today, especially because of the booming of the streaming media services, the market is overcrowded by tons of formats and comedy content which consequentially lead to explore new ways to stand out and the creation of new niches of audience. I’m not sure that mixing drama and “observational-sad-comedy” as Louis CK did in his series Louie was possible ten, fifteen years ago. But now we have an audience which is maybe more educated and bored by the classic comedy formula and keen to try new things. Havin said that, I believe that the “more escapist/optimistic” comedy will still survive but in order to do that they have to “elevate” their humour which is now becoming really elaborate and competitive (think about Rick and Morty or the extreme black humor of the recent animation series Paradise Pd).

I think a product like Matt Groening’s Disenchantment was great ten years ago but it feels old-fashion in his humor nowadays. Within his absurdity, the animal puns, the satiric and elaborate humour, Bojack Horseman in my opinion found his success on being the first animated series that perfectly mixes, “to make it simple”, drama with comedy. The key of the show it’s how wonderfully balances heartbreaks with laughs. And that’s definitely inspiring to me, since as viewer I equally love to watch drama and comedies, and as a content creator I find extremely interesting to combine these two genres in one show.

FMH: What is your ultimate goal with the creation of “POSTCARDS FROM THE BLUE CRAB ”? In the sense of, what concept would you like audiences to stay with when they’d watch it?

A.V: I’m not sure about a concept per se. I really just want to tell quirky and interesting stories, sometimes sad sometimes funny, sometimes both at the same time, hoping that somehow the audience will connect with these stories and the characters we created.

FMH: How long have you been working on this project?

A.V: As I previously said the idea came a couple of years ago but I concretely began to build the project this summer. In June I met a couple of amazing writers called Christian Azzola and Bex Harvey who helped me to write the pilot and afterward an equally amazing illustrator Victoria Budgett joined us and did all the concept arts so far.

FMH: At what stage are you with it at this moment? What do you need / are you looking for to further develop it?

A.V: In the last few weeks we worked on defining a potential first season and characters development, creating outlines for the first ten episodes which will give an idea about where we want to go on the pitching stage. We’re now starting to create a 3 minutes animatics and a 3D mockup of the scenario to present in a more concrete way what the final product will look like. Also, we’re considering different options in order to start building a team and more concretely find a way to sell the idea to the networks. The fact that we chose stop motion over 2D or 3D animation makes the project a bit more difficult to sell, but I don’t want to rush things, I’m confident about the idea and I want to find the right people and the right time to bring this to life.

FMH: What do you think stands out most in “POSTCARDS FROM THE BLUE CRAB ”?

A.V: I think the idea has different strength points but most importantly I believe has somehow a universal appeal.

This summer I’ve been to Sicily to visit my grandfather Benito, 83 years old, an old-school sailor living in a little island called Favignana. I see him just once a year. He usually has a sense of humor quite far from mine, he’s a tough audience, but when I described him the idea he started laughing. That was something. Then he asked me to clean his little boat. No, it was his motorcycle.

The fact that everything happens in a motel room, in its simplicity, has a great potential. The bedroom is for me the most intimate and secretive place, without necessarily thinking about sex. Somehow it’s like a magic place where you take down your mask and reveal your true self, a place where you’re naked (in every sense) in front of yourself and your partner. The fish living inside the waterbed represent in a way our natural tendency to voyeurism and satisfy our deeply “perverse” curiosities.

I also love the surrealism of having these two worlds (the human and fish) somehow connected: you have this city inside the mattress where fish have shitty jobs and problems like we have but when a human person decide to jump on the bed this means an earthquake for them, what happens in the bed consequentially affect the fish life and that’s really interesting to me.

Finally, I really hope the project will stand out for its craft and design, which is something that in my work I particularly care. Except for Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken which is made, most of the time, of rough stop-motion vignettes, I never saw a stop-motion series which has the same attention to the design of Fantastic Mr.Fox or Corpse Bride for instance. Of course, those projects have a different timescale and budget but my idea is to treat these episodes like little short films. Fewer episodes, less action, pretty much same scenario, and all about the dialogues, quirky but relatively simple stories, and well-crafted design.

FMH: Had you shopped it around before uploading it to Filmarket Hub? How did it go?

A.V: Not really. no. As I said this is a quite recent project, of course, I shared the idea with my friends and Benito, the sailor, but overall the project is in a quite early stage.

FMH: What made you apply to London TV Pitchbox?

A.V: I honestly wanted to test the project in a great competition and see the results. It was also a good excuse to push the rest of the team because of the deadline. We are all really busy as this is a passion project at the moment, but when you have a deadline is always great cause things have to go faster.

FMH: Do you think, as a director/screenwriter, is it important to be involved in all parts of the process of making a TV Show, not just writing it, but marketing it etc.?

A.V: For me it’s definitely great to have a foot on each aspect of the process but I also think that you need certain expertise in order to make the best out of a project.

FMH: We want to get to know you better, so here’s a mini questionnaire:

  • Tell us your three favourite screenwriters:

Charlie Kaufmann

Noah Baumbach

Efthimis Filippou

  • Three favourite screenwriting books:

I never read any.

  • Three favourite directors:

That’s tricky as there are so many I love in their own ways. This time I will go with Todd Solondz, Ruben Otslund and Peter Greenaway.

  • Three favourite movies:

Even more hard. I will list three of the films which probably influenced me the most as creator.

“Short Cuts”(R.Altman)

“Me and You and Everyone we know” (M. July)

“The Exterminating Angel” (L.Buñuel)