The film tells the story of a bored office worker, who may have accidentally sparked a revolution in a bizarre dystopian world, Schirkoa, where citizens live with paper bags on their heads to dissolve political, cultural and religious differences.
It is based on Shukla’s 2016 short film of the same name that travelled to more than 120 film festivals and earned 30 awards, including prizes at L.A. Shorts Fest, SIGGRAPH Asia, Oaxaca FilmFest and Venice Film Week.
Voice over talent for the feature includes Golshifteh Farahani (“Invasion”), Asia Argento (“Sans Soleil”), Soko (“Mayday”), Arish Ahmad Khan aka King Khan, frontman of Berlin-based garage rock and psychedelic soul band King Khan and the Shrines, and Denzil Smith (“Tenet”) while Shahbaz Sarwar and Tibu Fortes will be making their film debut in the lead role. French director Gaspar Noe, Indian actor-musician Piyush Mishra and Filipino director Lav Diaz will also appear as VO guest stars.
The film is an Indo-French co-production between Ishan Shukla’s animation studio Red Cigarette Media and Paris- based production company Dissidenz Films, in partnership with Rapid Eye Movies from Germany. It is being made with the support of CNC’s Cinémas du Monde fund and German region NordRhein Westfalen as well as a grant from 2D/3D character creation and animation software developer Reallusion.
“Schirkoa” has also received an Epic MegaGrant from Epic Games, which will be used to support the production of the film, which utilizes a pipeline based on Epic’s Unreal Engine, a technology used games and in virtual production of live action content “The Mandalorian” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
“Traditionally we only had either rough storyboards or a grey viewport preview to imagine how the film might look at the end in the editorial,” says Shukla. “With a WYSIWYG workflow we are able to realize the shots in a far more creative way than before. We can have a sense of camera focus, color, final look, textures, FX, post processing all in the game engine. We basically end up shooting the film in a more grounded way with multiple camera angles and B-rolls. This gives us more wiggle room in the animatic stage to make the most engaging sequence possible.”
Dissidenz Films’ Bich- Quan Tran said: “I introduced “Schirkoa” to motion capture studio SolidAnim in Angoulême. They clicked immediately with the project as they were already familiar with the use of video game engine technology in 3D animation and were convinced about the innovative and sustainable nature of the pipeline – to the point they came on board as co-producers.”
Angoulême hosts the International Comics Festival every year and is also the home of 40 animation and video game studios that produce half of France’s animated production.
The soundtrack will be composed by Sneha Khanwalkar (“Gangs of Wasseypur”) and will include music pieces from King Khan and Saba Lou.