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What are all those paint men digging? - ' Leaving the Table'

Every Monday or so, Chris Robinson asks an animator how they made a particular film. This week: Christopher Mills discusses his music video for Leonard Cohen, Leaving the Table.

'Leaving the Table' by Christopher Mills

So, how’d you make this?

I spoke with the active participants involved: Polaris prize [Canadian music awards], Sony music, Mr. Cohen’s management, and Adam Cohen, and pitched a sort of “upbeat wings of desire” kind of idea, that had Mr. Cohen joyfully revisiting some of the places and moments of his life. I think the goal of the project was to explore the sort of “moving on” themes in the song in the context of a “continuation” rather than an ending. It’s a bit of a theme that I keep coming back to in other videos, like the vids for Metric, Modest mouse, Lucie Idlout, The Tragically Hip, and other bands.

The video is made out of sketches, drawings, photos, paintings, digital paintings, video clips, and other bits and bobs all consolidated into a straightforward After Effects / Premiere pipeline.

Why this technique?

It was a bit of an intimidating prospect to create something for this artist. I always thought the best way to face intimidating stuff is to face it head on with honesty. I reviewed some archival materials with the involved parties, made some initial sketches / paintings that were approved, then ripped forward.

I went with a mixed bag of media (paintings, video etc.), to try to make a soup that blended some ingredients that were hand made, others that would move in time (like blowing leaves), and others that I just really had to get done quickly because, holy shit, deadline…etc.

How long did it take?

It was a delicate thing to balance the project’s needs and my health – I’d (respectfully) rather not say.

What was the most challenging part of the process?

Making sure to keep a health pace while at the same time being led by a furiously hungry feeling of inspiration, respect, love, and admiration for the subject matter, and the wonderful people who blessed me with this project.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. I’d like to keep doing this until I am dead.

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.