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Pictures from the Brainbox: A Weekly Dose of Indie Animation - 'Life Cycles'

Ross Hogg talks about his newly (online) released short, Life Cycles (2017), a stellar and blunt depiction of modern monotony.

Ross Hogg is an animator from Scotland. Beginning with his extraordinary student film, Specators (2013), Hogg has created a consistently strong, original and provocative body of work that includes The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (2013), Scribbledub (2015), and, most recently, Life Cycles, a refreshingly blunt look at a spoiled, narcissist society long on procrastination and repetition, and oh so very short on meaningful action and engagement. 

So, how’d you make this?

All the scenes in Life Cycles were planned and initially animated digitally on photoshop. Once I could see that the movement was working, I used the digital drawings or sketches as reference and hand-painted the frames on paper using watercolours.

Why this technique?

I decided to use this technique as the film is largely about routine and monotony and I thought it would make sense to make the production method as repetitive or monotonous as possible to reflect the concept.

How long did it take?

Production took about 5 months but there were a few months of development and planning before that.

What was the most challenging part of the process?

I think the most challenging part was just getting through it. It was a bit of a slog. That and trying to stay afloat financially. That was a struggle… Why do we do this to ourselves again?

How does the finished film compared to your original vision?

I didn’t really have an original vision. The film sort of grew out of a little animation challenge I set myself whereby I’d try and make a snippet of animation every week. I realised a couple of months in that the work I had been making all seemed to connect somehow so there wasn’t really an outcome in mind when I began the process.

Is there any part that now makes you cringe a bit?

Every morning in the film there is a one-second shower scene, viewed from my perspective. At the time of making the film it felt important to include it. It felt like it made sense to be invasive in that way. It’s a bit uncomfortable when I see that scene repeat throughout the film though..

Do you feel better having made it?

I do feel better having made it. I think it’s an honest film and the process of making it was really cathartic, especially at the time I was making it. I suppose I began making the film for me, as a way of trying to understand or process what was going on at the time. Ironically, maybe the process of making the film served as a distraction to the world around me.

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.