Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Monsoon Post

So the past few months of blogging have been a barren wasteland of neglect, and after spending endless summer days as a sloth, I am ready to get back into it. Grad school's about to start, and the only other obligations awaiting will be the part-time hostessing at Plump Jack restaurant. I'm both excited and nervous, unsure of how to approach art school / art life. I realize more and more how tough it is to work in this industry ('specially if you want to work for a highly competitive studio), and you can't afford to lose confidence. Just gotta push through, and strive for excellence all around.

One of the main things that's been on my mind lately is what I want to do with animation. If I try to work at a big, mainstream studio like Pixar, I will no doubt lose some freedom in expressing what I think is important, such as themes of political and social change. However at the same time, I don't want to alienate the general audience by trying to cater to the cinematic tastes of a small group (i.e. the film/art elite). So how does one balance the two? Like a friend once said in an interview, animation is a potentially powerful tool that isn't taken as seriously as it should be in this society (or even in the world still). Take for example Ratatouille, which I feel is one of the most (if not -the- most) mature animated features America has produced. It took its message seriously, did not dumb itself down for audiences, and presented itself not just as light entertainment, but a work of art in film. However, compare its sales to Shrek the 3rd, and although revenue does not necessarily reflect a film's quality, it does reflect the society's interest and demand. By attendance and revenue alone, exhausted sequels and mind-numbing Hollywood regurgitations are still preferred in today's theaters. But then again, there are probably a lot more factors that go into all of this, including the degradation of theater-going experience in the first place.

However, I do have faith in the American (and world) audiences. I have faith that the previously independent, or at least less-mainstream film (including animation!) movement will gain more recognition and actually have an impact as a vehicle for social introspection/change, while these films reciprocate this relationship by striving still to perfect the art of entertainment. By entertainment I don't mean slick special effects flicks coupled with insincere plots and even less sincere acting, but rather something that you remember because of the emotional impact it left on you. I have faith that audiences will expect more from film makers.

Then again, I am a young idealist and have not yet fully experienced that desperation to find a job, any job, to hold me over. I just hope these principles don't change, but only get stronger as I get older. While I go to Academy, I'm going to make sure I grip strongly onto the social and political issues around me, as well as stay true to all the golden knowledge I had the privilege of gaining from my friends in the industry. I know enough people that give a damn, and I'm going to try my hardest not to let them (and especially myself!) down.

In the meantime, I've been reading Nelson Mandela's autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom," which Danielle lent me. It takes me a little longer to read autobiographies (no matter how inspiring and well-written), so I'm not burning through it as quickly as the George R. R. Martin series. However, from what I've read so far, it is definitely living up to the high praise from Danielle. In addition to the fact that Mr. Mandela is an amazing human being, this autobiography is a great read for anyone who has their heart in the right place, but doesn't yet know how to approach making that next step towards educating oneself and taking initiative. Mandela was naturally intelligent and hard-working, but the fact that he didn't start to realize his priorities of social justice until his twenties, and his retelling of how he evolved to that point, is really inspiring. I highly recommend it so far, for -anyone-.

Alright, enough rambling! Now for some house cleaning and doodle/WIP dumping:

Brienne of Tarth, from George R. R. Martin's series "A Song of Ice and Fire"

Ev heatin' up NYC with his badassery.

Doodles from out Tarth adventures

More doodles from out Tarth adventures

Scenes/shots from one of the Animatrix shorts, copied/translated into boards