Creative directors Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo got introduced to each other through Teo’s roommate during college, long before today’s shape of the duo - Dvein - would come into existence. After the initial meeting, the two briefly collaborated on a project for which Teo needed a second pair of eyes, and that was enough for both to recognise their mutual creative spark. “It was a match,” the two explain, reflecting on the first time they shared a workload. However, the universe had other plans for them, and they parted ways until they reunited in Barcelona in 2007. “We actually stumbled upon each other at the door in Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar (let’s not get into specifics), and Teo invited me to his birthday party,” remembers Carlos.“Cut to 15 years later, we still love each other and each other’s work, imagining and mixing things together.”
But, before cutting to the ‘after’ photo, we’re taking a trip down memory lane - to Dvein’s first professional and personal projects together. The two, they say, were completely different experiences. “We started working on film and animation out of our own passion,” say Carlos and Teo. “We were young, and even though we knew that we wanted to do this professionally, we didn’t know how it was going to turn out.” That’s why they started off by taking the time to develop their personal projects, trying to do what their heroes at the time were also doing. “We soon realised those films we loved were done by huge teams, while we were just the two of us. Then, we moved on to doing stuff professionally. We were in our early twenties, and suddenly luck smiled at us and we had a big crew behind our backs. We didn’t have any idea how to manage a team! Nevertheless, our teams were supportive and helped us understand how to make do, so soon we learnt and were in full throttle.”
In their first years in the industry, before and after they went for professional work, Teo and Carlos had plenty of heroes to look up to. They drew inspiration from people like Lynn Fox or Chris Cunningham, while keeping up with plenty of blogs and websites, where they got caught up with trends. However, soon they realised that they might have gotten themselves stuck in a ‘loop’, relying overly much on inspiration from the internet. So, they slowly started to draw creative juice from nature, animals, paintings and photography. Carlos explains, “We love going around forests and finding a small piece of the environment that is so beautiful that it becomes our source of ideas and inspiration for a whole new world we’re about to create.”
Because Dvein started working together so young, for them, developing a common aesthetic was a seamless process. Sharing references with each other from early on, as well as ideas and inspirations, they quickly realised they loved each other’s work, so there wasn’t a huge hurdle to jump over when they had to merge the two. “We had some time to also develop ourselves separately, but as we had found a way of working and our own aesthetic together in the beginning, it was quite easy to integrate individual ideas into common goals.”
The collaborative collective likes to push limits from day one, both of live action and CGI storytelling. Because of their mixed interests and backgrounds, Tom and Carlos are wizards in live action, practical FX, CG, and all the other stuff in between - a strong reason why they don’t like putting a label on their work or how they see their creativity. However, there is one exception: ‘a monster with two heads’. “The time we’ve been working together for has given us the resources and tools to work as one entity,” says Teo. “Maybe magical, maybe surreal. I am not sure what we are, but we are something that plays, mixes, imagines, flies and creates. We are something.”
So, how do the two heads of one monster go through creative disagreements? “Fight. Fight. Fight… until the enemy is defeated,” laughs Carlos. And although fighting is probably some part of it, Dvein says that they always try to keep their hearts and minds open to one another. “We share our raw ideas on a board, always - from the smartest to the most stupid one. Talking, we find a point of interest in every one of them. Many times it happens so that one of us will take an idea deemed unusable from the other and make it work, ending up defending it!”
Ideas, good or bad, end up being picked apart and made into something. But, when asked which one is the best one, Dvein struggles to say. “It’s like asking which child is your favourite! It’s unfair. AND, we are two, so don’t make us get into a fight about this!”
Luckily, the fight was avoided, because they both agreed to point out one of their kids they particularly love - ‘Magma’. “It contains the essence of what we have been doing from the beginning - mixing reality with surrealism, animation, and different techniques. It was such a challenge and so fun to do.” For the project, Adobe reached out to the duo with the request for a mesmerising liquid motion art piece, which ended up becoming a stunning mix of live action photography and CG wizardry, entirely produced in-house by Dvein over just two months.
Looking at such complicated projects as Magma, it’s natural to ask oneself what ideation process takes place before their start and how the conception goes. The board, mentioned above, always is present when starting a new project, explains Dvein. “We collate references, ideas, films, something we have seen on our balcony that we stick on the board. Anything is valid. And then we spend hours discussing it and trying to find how to make all that into something interesting, to build the story for a specific aesthetic.” The duo also says that in many projects, a mix of techniques is necessary, and new tools and practices often come into the conception process as they go. “We either learn how to use these tools or come up with them ourselves,” says Teo. “It can also be considered a R&D process by two crazy inventors. From there, the rest comes along.”
Looking back on their career together, as well as the time they also spent apart, both Teo and Carlos agree that they have always made time for their personal projects. “That is the only way to keep finding the fun; the thrill of making films.” The years gone by are proof of that, and much more, testifying to their love of experimentation, that crazy shenanigans leading to the best outcomes, and the ways in which they’ve grown together creatively.
And from this, the duo gave the start to Dvein Films, the production company for features and short films, where creative freedom is king. “We wanted it to be a space for us two to work with other directors and filmmakers and get involved in films that might not be creatively led by us, but share our collective spirit on how film should be done.”
This mindset and ethos on film is exactly what Dvein and Blinkink have in common. “We love what the other directors at Blinkink do, and that comes from the fact that the people there are really thinking about exactly what they want to put out there and how it should look. It’s not just a production company, it is a lab, a way of thinking, and a shared aesthetic.”
With excitement, Teo and Carlos look ahead to the time they will share working with Blink, knowing it won’t be lacking in experiments, challenges and passion, because that DNA is the same one running through the veins of Dvein from the first days of its conception in Barcelona.
One thing is left to find out - why Dvein? Well, in very Dvein manner, Teo and Carlos leave us with a riddle: “Our name is a looong story. Let’s not spoil it. We’ll just tell you that it has to do with cowboys, a panthera and hell. But in Spanish. That’s the riddle!”