The Animated Scene: Too Busy? Or Not Too Busy?
Just a short couple of weeks later, the first week of June, another interruption to my "chaotic" Chaotic schedule, came in the form of my doing another three-day workshop at the Filmakademie in Ludwigsburg, Germany, which has become a regular annual invitation, and which is always a fantastic experience. Taking my "Organic Approach to Visual Effects" to a school of such high standards, and to students of such high caliber, is exciting, challenging, and incredibly enlightening all at once. I never cease to be amazed at how the mostly German, and other European students I meet there, have such an profound grasp of animation principles and ideas, not to mention a better English-speaking vocabulary than the vast majority of most North American students I have ever worked with.
Once again, I can't say that I would trade that experience for another animation festival, although I couldn't help but sigh sadly when all the students there asked, "Will you be there in Annecy this year?" Of course they all live within reasonable driving distance of Annecy, which makes it easier for them to attend annually. Yeah. Almost precisely the same distance that the Platform festival in Portland, Oregon, is from my home in Vancouver. The one that I couldn't make it to, because I am too busy, dammit!
Well there, I have explained it all for myself, just by writing about it. It turns out in the end, that I traded the festivals that I had been hoping to attend, for animation 'events' of an entirely different, and possibly far higher caliber. Even now, as I work on a freelance job at home late at night, actually drawing some simple animation on a good old fashioned animation disk with pencil and paper, I realize that when animation becomes this much a part of your life, and busy gets really busy, well, one just trades out one animation experience for another, they are quite interchangeable, and given time, there will be a time for every conceivable kind of animation experience imaginable.
Perhaps, one day again, I will work on a project that doesn't have an insane, homicidal/suicidal deadline, a project that plans ahead for adequate research and development time. What a concept! Like the good old days. (Yeah, you know, the good old days...?) and perhaps the time will come to finally squeeze out that film of my own, which has been festering in my imagination for a couple of decades. Oh, and then there's the follow-up book of course. And what if one of those big doozy features we've been pitching for all of a sudden comes to fruition? And what if Chaotic goes for another couple of seasons, or even (shudder) a feature version of the show!?
One thing for sure, and this is a really important point. We've all read stories about, "How to survive in the animation industry when the work is just not there... " Well, for this starving animator, I'm just extremely grateful to be as busy as I can possibly be, and you know what? All those festivals just keep coming around, year after year, and all the wonderful, colorful, creative animation souls just keep on showing up there, and I know, we'll all be together, in animation heaven again, some day.
In his 30-year animation career, Joseph Gilland has worked with studios as diverse as Walt Disney Feature Animation and the National Film Board of Canada. He has worked on all styles of animation, experimental films, television series, commercials, theatrical feature films, stop motion, title sequences, live-action films and documentaries. He is writing a passionate book about the art of animation.