Our unofficial series, Better Together, continues. This time we chat with the amazingly talented Wednesday Studio.
The following is a Q&A with Daniela Negrín Ochoa and Iria López of Wednesday Studio on collaboration and what makes their work together so special.
First, can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Dani: I’m originally from Venezuela, grew up in Curacao, Florida and Holland, and moved to London 13 years ago. I did my BA in animation/illustration at Kingston University, followed by an MA in Animation Direction at the NFTS.
Iria: I’m a Spanish born London based Animation Director. I studied Fine Art in Spain and a masters in Animation Direction at the National Film and Television School in London.
How did you initially meet?
Dani: We met during our MA at the NFTS. I remember seeing her drawings for one of the first year projects she did and loving how much personality and charm the characters had.
Iria: As Dani said, we met during our masters at NFTS. Dani graduated one year before me. I helped her in her grad film very briefly, and she helped me back the year after. I instantly noticed we had very complementary styles.
To date, how long have you been working together and how did that all come about?
Dani: It was a gradual and organic progression I think. Around 5 years ago, we both ended up working on the same long job. I learned a lot from it but creatively speaking craved something new, so that pushed us to move on and try co-directing as Wednesday. Somehow making the leap to freelance together made it much easier! We co-directed projects between freelance jobs for a time, until we built up a portfolio that we felt was strong enough for us to be full-time as Wednesday Studio a little over a year ago.
We’ve done quite a range of projects together, but for me one of my favourites was our first personal project that we did. It’s called July, which was unintentionally symbolic as it happens to be about teamwork!
Iria: We both ended up getting a job at the same place. It wasn’t our dream job… at all. But it motivated us to search for other opportunities and to help each other. The first thing we did together was an animation for Microsoft that Dani got offered to do and she hired me as her animator. Then I got a job to do an animation for Nesta and I hired her. It was fun working together so for the next animation that Nesta asked me to do I offered Dani having a go at directing it together. That was the beginning of Wednesday, it’s been already 4 years. Since then we’ve done plenty of projects together, my favourites are July and Cultural Mining.
How would you describe your dream job?
Dani: One that allows us creative freedom and the scope to be able to collaborate with a dream team of creative people. Our Cultural Mining film for The School of Life was great in that respect, we were given a lot of freedom, and were able to work with the amazingly talented Daniel Clarke.
Iria: My dream job is anything I have fun doing. And I really enjoy doing what we do, especially when we can have creative freedom. Working as part of a team together with Dani is also, definitely, more fun than alone.
I feel like there is a lot of collaboration within animation but it’s rare that these collaborations form lasting partnerships. What is it that makes working together so compatible?
Dani: To begin with, our collaboration came from a shared visual aesthetic, we found that we had very similar styles and were drawn to the same work. But style alone, although a great thing to see eye to eye on, isn’t enough to have a lasting partnership. I think that in order to make a collaboration last, you need to have good communication skills and trust in each other. It’s hard to let go of your ego and come to joint decisions without it!
Iria: In our case, our collaboration happened because we have very similar taste and styles, so for us it’s really easy taking creative decisions together. We agree with each other’s opinions most of the time. It’s great having someone you trust giving you advice when you are stuck. It’s equally great to be able to give your own opinion to someone who trusts you.
Do you have a clear division of labor in place or do you both share the workload from the beginning of a project through the end?
Dani: We share the workload all the way through. We always start out with a conversation about our visions for the project and researching together, so we are both clear that we are starting on the same page. Then we’ll put our ideas to paper, and bounce ideas off each other to see what sticks. I think that’s one of the joys of collaboration, having input from the right person can take your ideas down a totally new and exciting path.
Iria: We share it all. We developed a “silly” way of sharing the workload fairly, and it’s worked so well that we still do it when we can. We usually divide the workload in equal groups, and we decide what’s harder and easier, fun and not fun and split it evenly across two groups. There’s always something in each group that I’d love to do. After doing the two groups we flip a coin. The coin dictates who does what. I love this way of sharing work, mainly because this way there’s no regrets for not having chosen the other group :P
What is one thing you struggle with that you feel the other helps with?
Dani: We share a lot of skills in common but also have lots of complimentary ones that balance each other out. For example, I know that I can sometimes have very linear practical thinking, and Iria always pushes me creatively out of my comfort zones to be bolder with design and story choices, which is a lovely way to be challenged! Also.. and this is silly but it’s little things like this that make working together extra nice- Iria always makes an extra coffee for me to help make me feel human in the mornings!
Iria: I am not sure, I think my struggles change from project to project, and it’s always reassuring having Dani to support me and help me out. But if I have to point out one particular thing, I think Dani is great at making “to do” lists, I find that very helpful!
Finally, what is next for you two?
Dani: I’m very excited about how our partnership has progressed, and the dream is just to keep on building on that. The next step would be to grow the team and collaborate with even more people.
Iria: We really want to keep growing as a studio. At the moment it’s just the two of us (and Tinto the studio dog), and we hire freelancers per project. It’d be amazing getting to the point where we can have a permanent team to work with.