PES: The Deep
How did Showtime and PES come together for “The Deep”?
How did the original idea for this most recent short come to you?
Can you describe the production process of The Deep? How did the demands of this piece differ from your previous shorts?
I didn’t storyboard, I just assembled the metal tools and scraps into deep-sea-like creatures, lit them, and then I animated them. Each shot, in turn, inspired the next shot I dreamt up. It was an extremely spontaneous mode of creation.
In post I added a layer of atmospheric effects to help create the underwater murkiness. I intended to do this from the beginning, I just wasn’t sure how I was going to do it: in stop-motion, live-action, or CGI. In the end I decided to go the live-action route. I shot footage of dust particles against a black backdrop at different focal lengths and frame rates. Then in the Inferno, I worked with Wolfgang Maschin of Demiurge to composite the particles and add some additional dramatic lighting effects.
The style of your work commonly illustrates a stark contrast between natural and synthetic objects. In The Deep this is not the case. Was this a conscious or inadvertent change of course?
From beginning to end, can you describe your film making process? Specifically, do you prefer to start with a story or something else, like subject matter or aesthetic?
You are mostly known for object driven stop-motion animation. Have you ever been compelled to experiment in other styles, such as cel-animation or CG?
How does the film-making process for a commercial differ creatively than your non-commercial work? Do you find that clients are mostly open to your style and ideas?
In my personal work, I stand 100% behind the core ideas, which are mine. There’s no excuse for a poor idea in my personal work, because I am in control of it.
As a child, were you interested in animation or did you take the long road to the art-form?
But I really liked to draw and paint. I learned how to paint watercolors at an early age – I took lessons from a children’s book illustrator. In college I studied printmaking and got obsessed with it. I made my own books and printed them on paper that I created by pulping my own underwear – we had a giant machine that turned just about anything into pulp that could then be made into paper.
I experimented with many forms of printmaking. I idolized the artist William Blake and was obsessed with his methods of making his own books (such as The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). When I graduated college I had a degree in English Literature with a focus on James Joyce as well as a portfolio of etchings and prints. I landed a job in the creative department of a large ad agency in NYC, based on the amusement the agency recruiter got from my etchings.
At the agency I used my first paychecks to start financing my own short films. I started with live-action, not animation. But then one day I had an idea about two chairs having sex. I really wanted to make it and I didn’t want anyone to fuck it up. I felt the best technique for the idea would be stop-motion. So I quit my agency job and taught myself how to animate. Of course, Roof Sex changed my life.
Outside of the animation medium, what inspires your work?
Likewise, who (or what) within the animation medium inspires your work?
Where do you see the direction of your work going in the future? What is in store for 2011 and beyond?