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Joanna Priestley Animates 'Clam Bake' iOS App

Acclaimed indie filmmaker Joanna Priestley releases “Clam Bake,” an interactive iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod featuring her iconic animation style.

Portland, OR—

Acclaimed indie filmmaker Joanna Priestley has released Clam Bake, an interactive iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod that features her iconic style of animation. Priestley has directed, produced and animated 24 award winning films and has been called the "Queen of Independent Animation" by Bill Plympton.

Priestley, based in Portland, Oregon, spent six months creating sixty sequences of animation for Clam Bake, an entertainment app.  About the process, she says “I loved coming into the studio each day and creating a totally new animated sequence.  It was exhilarating to be free of the narrative structure of filmmaking. This was my first experience with interactive animation and I let my imagination go beserk, but I was always conscious of building Clam Bake into a cohesive experience through design, style, color and shape.”

“Clam Bake was inspired by a wonderful painting workshop that I took from (Portland painter) Flora Bowley.  It was about letting your preconceptions, goals and expectations fall away and simply immersing yourself in the joyful experience of exploring with paint.  It was also focused on using as much rich color as possible.  The vivid colors in Clam Bake are completely different from the limited palettes I use in my films.”  The app begins with clicking on a clam shell, which opens to reveal an animated treasure with a little soundtrack. Once the participant has clicked or pulled on all the shapes and interior elements in the composition, a lovely animated sequence plays out for the participant.

Work on Clam Bake began when Priestley hired Portland State University student Jed Bursiak as a summer intern.  His programming skills made it possible for Priestley to explore interactive animation and together they created a mobile device application.  Priestley found the complex process of getting her Flash app into the Apple App Store to be daunting: “It was a big challenge to decipher their über-geeky vocabulary and navigate their dense technocracy.  I was extremely grateful that Jed could figure it out.”

Composer Seth Norman, of Portland’s Dubstep band Triage, created a rich soundtrack for Clam Bake, which escalates as multiple elements come to life.  Norman has created the soundtracks for three of Priestley’s films. About scoring for an app, Norman says: “I think of Clam Bake as the virtual equivalent of being like a child rummaging through another kid's toy box.  My focus as a sound designer was on creating small, attention-grabbing snippets of audio that give the user a feeling of surprise and discovery with each click as they dig further into the app. Creating the sound for Joanna Priestley's unique interactive world was a great opportunity to explore a wide range of techniques, sources, and styles.”

Joanna Priestley has produced and directed 24 films which have won awards at film festivals all over the world, including the New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Taos Talking Pictures, Black Maria Film and Video Festival, Tournee of Animation, and the World Animation Celebration, just to name a few.  In addition to her festival screenings and retrospectives at venues such as MoMA (New York City), REDCAT (Los Angeles) and the Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley), her work has screened on both PBS and BBC2.  Priestley has also created animation for everything from “Sesame Street” to music videos for Tears for Fears (“Sowing the Seeds of Love”) and Joni Mitchell (“Good Friends”).  Joanna Priestley is the founding president of ASIFA-Northwest, and she runs an apprenticeship program through her studio in Portland, Oregon.  Her teaching credentials include stints at the Art Institute of Portland, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Northwest Film Center/Portland Art Museum and Volda College (Norway).  She has received fellowships from many prestigious foundations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, the American Film Institute and Creative Capital.  Priestley studied painting and printmaking at Rhode Island School of Design and at UC Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors.  She also attended California Institute of the Arts where she received an MFA Degree and the Louis B. Mayer Award.  In her spare time, she enjoys medicinal herbalism and art directing and producing events for Halloween and Burning Man.

Source: Joanna Priestley

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Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.