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I Have a Question Richard O'Connor

In which Chris Robinson asks animation professionals profoundly inane questions about the inner workings of their lives. Today's guest is animator and producer and winner of the most likely to be mistaken for a member of The Kinks contest that never took place, Richard O'Connor

'My Friend Almost Killed Patti Smith' by Richard O'Connor


Producer/Director Richard O'Connor has been making animated things for a quarter of a century. These have included theatrical features (Frank Oz' The Stepford Wives, Merchant/Ivory's White Countess, Rebecca Miller's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee), documentaries (Gigantic: A Tale of Two JohnsChicago Ten, Nursery University), television (Nckelodeon's Kablam", Cartoon Network's Big Bag, PBS' Between the Lions) and commercials. He writes about things -usually animated things, but not always. He has taught at Parsons School of Design, NYU, University of the Arts, and Rhode Island School Design. Currently, he serves on the steering committee of Our Next 4 Years, an organization dedicated to producing progressive work for a better future. 

Richie agreed to meet in Philadelphia for a tail gate party to celebrate yet another failed season by the local sports team. I accepted, reluctantly and wore a bevy of rival sporting clothing to spite him and my latent fear of the Broad Street Bullies. We hugged, cracked open some Miller Lites, blasted Kinda Kinks and proceeded with a most pressing interview.

I get the greatest pleasure from....

A warm fall afternoon in the passenger seat on long country road.

Giving multiple answers to single questions.

The trait I like least about myself is

I tell my psychiatrist the answer is vanity -the need to be seen surrounded by beauty -but it's probably laziness. I'd rather be eating chips every time. I should probably consider my approach to psychotherapy for this answer as well. 

The book I value above all others is

For content, currently Birds of America by Lorrie Moore. In particular, the story “Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens.”

Vaguely, and generally where “value” holds meaning unseen on the surface I'd say the paperback of Bertolt Brecht: Poems 1913-1956 given to me by the brilliant Dr. Andrea Brady a year or two after our teenage heartbreak.

Richard O'Connor


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

Two answers here, probably because I don't really like people:

1) former San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh. He developed methods in which process was success. Individual success was organizational success. Follow the process and outcome is determined, the process itself is the joy of doing. This is a combination of Cartesian thinking with Marxist study of systems.

2) Tracy Sugarman. The work he did in Stranger at the Gates” is a beautiful example of what a person like me can do to make the world better.

The song that makes me tingle is....

Rennie Sparks is my favorite songwriter, almost anything she does is guaranteed to make me shudder on the subway. Without thinking there are at least six Handsome Family songs: “Passenger Pigeons”, “In The Air”, “Amelia Earhart vs The Dancing Bear”, “Flapping Your Broken Wings”, “Octopus”, “Don't Be Scared” -that frequently make me break down in tears they're so good.

Any of those would be too easy. So I'm going to say “Life to Save” by Hurray For the Riff Raff (Alynda Segarra, like Rennie Sparks, is fucking genius).

Or “Rubberband Man”. Toss up.

The funniest thing that happened to me….

Here I'll read “funny” as “strange” instead of “comedic” as all of life is a continuous joke shaded by the cloak of gloom.

In 1994 I was in St Mark's on the Bowery theater waiting on curtain for some Richard Foreman thing or other. I was gripped by an indescribable feeling. It was kind of like Deja vu but it wasn't Deja vu. Instead of slightly anticipating the present moment it was acting an unfamiliar moment. Even the environment appeared as projection of the unfamiliar. Twenty years later, back in that same space (where I had been maybe 3 or 4 times in the intervening decades) with the same person I had been with before (whom I had seen maybe 3 or 4 times in the intervening decades despite once being very close) I lived again that moment I experienced years before. This time what once seemed as holograms and shadows were concrete. People and things I knew in the present -even those who I would have never imagined the first time -I knew them then but I knew them as well in the past. 

I'm probably describing it very poorly, it's indescribable and unquestionably the funniest thing I've ever experienced.

Chris Robinson's picture

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.