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I Have a Question Paul Driessen

In which Chris Robinson asks animators profound and inane questions that have little to do with animation. Today's guest is the legendary animator, Paul Driessen. 

'The Killing of an Egg' by Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is a noted director, animator, writer and teacher. His films (including 3 Misses, Elbowing, The Writer, The End of the World in Four Seasons) have won more awards than yours.

He unreluctantly agreed to meet me at the Sérignan nudist beach in the South of France on a humid December afternoon in 1940. It was a Thursday. Like no other.

I get the greatest pleasure from….

Driving in a sports car through Paris with the warm wind in my hair.

I don’t have a sports car and not much hair left but Paris is not too far from where I live.

More realistically, I realize that I get much pleasure from looking forward to my next day. I have always plans, go swim, write, animate, continue my book…

The trait I like least about myself is

I have a hard time recognizing faces (there is a name for this deficiency). Very embarrassing when visiting festivals and meeting people I had spent time with before but I have no idea who they are.

The book I value above all others is

I recently read and loved Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.  The latter has very profound human insight. However, the flashbacks in both books to the past of their protagonists are so similar that I started mixing them up.

Two graphic cartoony novels I love are Pinocchio by Winschluss and the very charming Le Grand Méchant Renard by Benjamin Renner (of which Annecy showed the delightful pre-premiere of the animated feature version this year).

An old favourite is a Dutch book, Lieve Jongens by Gerard Reve. Unfortunately, its beautiful use of my obscure language can only be appreciated by Dutch and Flemish readers.

A (non-family member) person I have high respect for is....

Maybe George Dunning, the director of the Yellow Submarine, who gave me a chance to work with him, but mainly because he never let go of his high standards, kept the film’s graphic quality, despite all the obstacles, and there were many (read the book: Inside the Yellow Submarine).

The song that makes me tingle is….

The old Duke Ellington classic “Mood Indigo” / The Beatle’s “Strawberry Fields” (there is a reference in its tuning, I find) / George Brassens’ “La Prière”. They all bringing back nostalgic memories.

The band The Real Tuesday Weld does a nice rendering of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, with lovely old cartoon images on its video clip.

The funniest thing that happened to me….

Last summer I rode back on my bike from swimming in the river not far from where I live and the small rocky path winding upward was a little too steep for me.

At a certain point I came to an almost full stop, I lost my balance and fell down head first into the 2 meter ditch beside the road, full of brambles. 

Unfortunately, I had a very heavy packsack on my back with swimming gear, books, a parasol, a folding chair, which pulled me down while on top of me was my heavy old bike. And I lost my glasses.

The brambles broke my fall somewhat (I had no helmet) but also enclosed me completely with their thorns (I had a flimsy T-shirt on); I couldn’t move.

There was not a soul in sight and I had no cel phone (but then again I couldn’t move my arms anyway). 

A typical “Now what?” situation.


And then there was the day that I drove down the German autobahn with Marv Newland and the back wheels of an old truck in front of us slowly started to come off. All the BMW’s and Mercedes’s beside and behind us held back while the spectacle unfolded in front of us of two rusty old wheels on their own, bouncing along the highway.

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.