In which AWN’s Chris Robinson asks animators profound and inane questions. This week Canadian animator Steven Woloshen discusses his latest short, Casino.
What led you to make a film about your father now?
In January of 2016, my Father passed away unexpectedly and I always felt that we had a lot of unresolved issues. Up to this point, it was easy to make films about the milestones in my life and the lives of the people around me but this time it was different. I had to look back at a person that I hardly knew.
Was he a big gambler? Clearly it was something he did a lot or loved if it's left such an impression on you.
I wouldn’t say he was big gambler, but he had an unusual fascination with the science of betting and gambling. In the last two decades, most of his trips in the Americas were related to gambling. Since I began Casino four months after his death, I wanted to handle the subject with a few ounces of love and respect. My goal was to look at the casino experience through his eyes. I was curious why he liked casinos so I focused on the colour and the movement that we associate with Las Vegas, playing cards and roulette wheels.
Your description says “gambling with love”. Did he have troubles with love?
Perhaps it was a generational thing - or maybe an Eastern European trait – but my Father was very disconnected from my life (and my sister’s life as well). Whenever he tried to reach out to us, it was usually though a variety of inane topics. We listened to these gambling theories and detailed obsessions for years.
I thought that the words, “gambled with love” said a lot about our relationship. I wanted this film to be positive as well. I wanted his life to have a positive effect in my children.
Your earlier films were a bit more abstract in nature, driven by music. However, your later and films seem to deal with more intimate themes. Was this the result of starting a family?
Since I work from home, my family has been the biggest source of inspiration. I always liked what Stan Brakhage said about the role of the amateur artist - the artist who creates out of a sense of love for his home and family. That’s what amateur means in Latin: To love. In my case, I create films to teach and amuse my family and sometimes, to annoy them as well.
Steven Woloshen’s new short, Casino, recently debuted at Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation in Montreal.