I am going through a moment of introspection; I have been thinking about my childhood a lot and trying to figure out a bit of the madness of today. In doing so, I remembered about the great set designer, artist and animator Lele Luttazzi. When I was just 8, I was lucky enough to meet him at a stop motion workshop, in my home town in Italy. I remember creating a magpie made of paper cut outs coloured with pastels that we then animated, it was very basic animation obviously.
My favourite animation amongst his production is without any doubt the Academy Award nominated movie “Pulcinella”. What truly gets me about this piece is its clear anarchic and anti-authoritarian message. Pulcinella is pissing onto an equestrian monument and is therefore chased by the “Carabinieri”. Ultimately he manages to escape and goes back to pissing on the monument but this time flowers and colours are exploding form every corner. Today’s images of colonialist statues getting torn down echoes Pulcinella’s bravadoes my mind from far away.
This is a tautological post, a meta-post, a post about a post. Sometimes its good to stop and think about what we do from the outside. This is a brief post about the last two years of my life at CSM. Before joining the Master’s in Character Animation I had miserable jobs for several years; mainly slaving away for rich art collectors. I thought that was my life, I thought that was it. I went through the whole process of hating my job, getting depressed, getting fired… blah, blah, blah.
I realised I had to try to go back to my roots and do something that allowed me to express myself creatively, so I want back to uni. It was the best thing I did since moving to London in 2012. The course was such a pivotal learning experience. Besides learning the foundations of character animation, I developed my work through an array of mediums and techniques. This has brought up skills in me that I would not have been aware of, had I not had the chance to develop them.
Lastly, this blog has helped me to become aware of my own voice. I hope that the tone I have set on this platform has not been too personal from time to time but I now, finally feel that I have the chance to express myself wholly with this new creative freedom. Therefore, all of my projects, have some reference to my life and my experiences that have brought me to where I stand today.
Some people are analytical, some are just anal. I believe I am neither of these. I know there is room for improvement for my organisational skills but I don’t think I will ever get a kick out of being “my own office bitch”. Let me clarify: I will never be one of those people who can find the time or take pleasure in over-organising their work; for example by creating colourful mandala-like spreadsheets. To be honest I can barely pronounce or spell the word, to me is sounds and reads more like “spreadshit”. The time and effort it takes for me to properly use Excel is maybe more than the time and effort it takes for me to actually do the job. For my grad film, I successfully organised and planned a 6 month project using just three little A5 pieces of paper.
Last time I directed a movie I made a wall size schedule that I hung in my kitchen. This caused me such anxiety that this time I have opted for a pocked size production schedule so that I can keep using my house but without constantly being reminded of how behind schedule I am or how much longer it took to shoot than animate!
My grad film became a bit of a nightmare project; loads of characters, a linear plot, lip syncing etc. While I was working on it, I started thinking about the movement that one decides to have in a cartoon. I say “decide”, because in this post-post-modern era, I believe we are free to opt for a more or less naturalistic looking animation depending on the aesthetic we want to achieve. In my movie for example, sometimes I wanted the characters to move in a cartoony way that would not give the impression of being “real”.
Some other times I had shots where I wanted the character to feel more naturalistic and therefore I used LAVs (live action videos) as a reference. However it is quite hard to mimic an overweight soft body if you have only bones and bitterness in you.
In this sense, choosing how naturalistically our character moves, is analogue to any other artistic choice in between poles such as abstraction vs representation for visual art or traditional tailoring vs de-constructivism for fashion design, linear narratives vs non linear narratives in storytelling. The list goes on and on…
Me and my mate Saffron had started an independent queer short animation project about the breakdown of long lasting monogamic gay relationship on the backdrop of the world pandemic. I have no visuals yet!
In my view it is really interesting to see how sub culture can be metabolised into mainstream and in a way loose its contingent political implications while serving the capitalistic logic of movies mass consumption.
he perfect example is Ursula from The Little Mermaid. The character is a transposition of the legendary gay icon Divine Brown. She embodied the most confrontational and anarchic spirit of gay underground North American culture in between the 70s and the 80s.
It is interesting to see how the character of Ursula somehow retained the spirit of Divine but in a subliminal way. I believe that even if she seems just like all the others Disney villains, there is something more to her. To me she always felt like a drag queen even if in the movie she is a woman; I should say half woman, half octopus.
This says something about the politics of subcultural migration into main-stream cartoons. Even if it is spoiled by the political implications that they originated from, subcultures find their ways into mass culture, and in doing so they reshape them from within.
How could I go on without spending few words about the delightful Assy Mc Gee. Personally, in terms of character design, I think that this glorious talking naked butt epitomises the idea of unity in between form and substance. Assy is the quintessential violent cop from 80s action movies. Usually the actor that would interpret those policemen roles tended to be asses themselves, I don’t know why but now I can think only of Mel Gibson… but there were many more.