Hey guys, so lets start with a little history. What are the origins of Twenty120? How did you come up with the current format of 20 directors creating 120 second animations?
Connor Swegle: Twenty120 got its start with Lori Pate. She had created a session at PromaxBDA that brought together twenty creative directors and offered them 120 seconds to talk about what inspired them. It was always a great session because it was completely open. It let people talk about forward-thinking ideas, creativity, and innovation. In 2007, I was able to pick up the project and continue its momentum. PromaxBDA is a great organization, and I always believed that there needed to be a forum for people who were doing interesting original work. There were so many people doing creative work outside of the scope of projects done for hire, I believed that creativity was what was inspires others- whether because you can see what people are doing and you advance it for yourself, or because of the positive creative ego that drives you to believe you can do something better. Either way, it is great for the community and I thought that we could create a place for that creative energy. There was also a place for that thinking at PromaxBDA because that work also has a profound impact on mass media- independent work always seems to find its way into being appropriated for commercials, videos, film, promos and marketing.
Knowing what it can be like to undertake side work that is all for free, what made both of you decide to lead this project? What roles do you take on during the production of all the films (as well as the time between collections)?
CS: I have a strong belief that what the directors do as a part of twenty120 is a very pure craft. It takes time, dedication, professionalism, practice, and hard work. You have to not only be the person who can come up with an idea- there are a million of those hanging out around the world at bars, cafes, galleries, boutiques, at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Wilshire- but it is a special thing to be able to make those ideas real. To produce, finish them, and make them tactile. I wanted to lead the project to create an umbrella or a destination for this work. The first year I worked with Chuck Carey (Troika) and Crystal Hall (Showtime), and we busted our asses to make it happen in 6 weeks. I have been most officially curator and producer, but this includes prodder, designer (terribly), developer (hack-ily), and writer, and most importantly- fan. I am a huge fan of the creative process and the way the directors take something from their minds and turn it into something tangible. Into a short film.
Rich Rama: What made me decide on helping on this project is really helping my friend out. The past few years I’ve seen Connor kill himself to get this done and he nearly does it all by himself. I loved the passion he had for this project and I knew he wanted to grow this every year. I also love what he was trying to do with it and I figured he shouldn’t do this alone so I offered up my help. My role really is to help come up with ideas to expand this collection. Somebody Connor can bounce ideas off of. I’m a cheerleader that comes in with positive energy. We also saw that we both are tapped into resources that could make it bigger with longer lasting power…haha…seriously.
Twenty120 is in its third year. This whole project is done after hours and for free, which begs the question, what drives you to keep putting this series together?
CS: Again, it comes down to the creative process. I know that I can’t do what some of these directors do from a creative standpoint, but what I can do is bring together directors from around the world who share the goal of creating. I want other people to see this work and appreciate their vision. It is my way own of making an idea real. The directors inspire me and keep me to task.
There is also the help from my work, Click 3x, who are flexible and supportive with the time/resources it takes, all the directors whose energy and efforts keep me to task, PromaxBDA, who present the collection and provide constant support and dedication to the creative craft, IdN who jumped on to distribute the collection, and publications/destinations like Motionographer who spread the word. This year, with Rich coming on, and having the same support from his team, we are able to work together, share ideas, and work as efficiently as possible to launch and share the collection. It isn’t often that competing companies share and support a vision, and we are lucky to have it.
I won’t forget in 2006 standing around at Lucky Jacks in the Lower East Side, humbly pitching the project to Saiman Chow. I am nervously telling him about an idea to get 20 original films, each 120 seconds. As I wait for him to tell me I am an idiot, he looks over and says, “Sure let’s do it.” It was so casual and easy. I think at that point, I decided that it would be possible. That said, I am very much indebted to the directors for their hard work. Very indebted. It is inspiring.
RR: The creativity that comes out of it. I think it’s interesting to come up with one common theme and see how some of these great creatives interpret that theme. There’s a great feeling of accomplishment not only for us, but for everybody involved. Let’s not get this completely twisted though…both of us do spend some time throughout the week working on this during office hours!!! We’re both extremely lucky to be working at companies (MassMarket & Click 3X) who are supportive with what we do. Love that plug for our companies??? But it’s true!!! They’re even our Primary Sponsors!
What do you think drives the directors to take on a lot all the extra curricular work to be part of a projects like yours?
CS: Creative people have something inside them that drives them to make things. It is the same thing that keeps them from being bankers and accountants. It is also something that is developed and worked at over time. If you have that, even just a little bit of it, you want to be able to show it. It is also my goal that projects such as Twenty120 helps directors be paid for their work. I enjoy that hearing from directors that work done as part of the collection leads to a client project.
RR: I think part of it is the trust these Director’s have in us to put something together that will be great that gets them introduced to the community and to the world. I think another part of it is the Director’s need for creative expression. There are many outlets for this type of expression and we’re lucky that some of them chose ours.
Lastly, now that we know more about your collection, what do you think the future hold for Twenty120?
CS: The goal has always been to better the collection. Something people want to enjoy and want to be a part of. I look at “Change” and the site was dreadful (my fault), but the work was amazing. There isn’t one film I haven’t enjoyed and respected from the delivery of the first film. The future is one where we will remain dedicated to great creative work, and we are always looking for allies to be a part of the collection, and to help share it. Oh, and to get wealthy. Oh wait, if I wanted that, I’d probably do something where I wear a suit everyday. But, what fun would that be?
RR: It’s something that Connor and I talk about all the time. We have some ideas brewing. We’re really trying to concentrate on making this year’s collection great. As long as we dedicate ourselves towards putting together a high leveled creative film collection, we see the future is bright.