Portable.tv Interview (unabridged)

This week I did an interview with Portable.tv regarding my video for Of Montreal. I decided to publish the unedited article here —You can view the original by clicking “Portable.tv” above, in case that’s unclear. :)

So Spiteful Intervention is a very mixed media, did you create the artwork as well? How did they come together like they have?

Yes, I painted the majority of the work. My good friends Lee Stringle and Cameron Tomsett came in to help with the final push so we would hit the deadline. Our approach was to take hand-painted characters and animate them by mapping them to a 3D meshes in Autodesk Maya. 

The imagery or idea behind it seems a little dark, what general mood/feeling did you want to generate with it?

Originally I had wanted to do a 3D video in a similar style to artist Jeff Koons collages. That idea was rejected. Treatment one was too pop-arty for track. The first few times I listened to the song, I was focusing on the poppy rhythm of the piano and the change at 1:39. Both reminded me of the Beatles White Album for some reason… anyways, I completely missed how dark the lyrics actually were. The song’s all about self-loathing and battling dark thoughts, so I felt having Kevin’s head morph into various creatures would be the simplest, and most fun way to illustrate that idea. I think the colours, the loose painting and the bounciness of the images, combined with how sad all of the drawings look, matched the song pretty well.

You’ve done quite a few film clips, how do you approach each one with a different mindset and originality?

I’m  curious. I like taking things apart and rebuilding them in different ways. 
In art school we were always encouraged to find one distinctive way of working, and to put all projects through that filter. There’s the Alex McLeod filter, and the Martin Wittfooth  filter, the Jessica Rae Gordon filter. They each build little worlds, with their own sets of rules. It’s a great approach for business as Milton Glaser would say. The main thing I took away from illustration was the mechanics of world building.

I think my filter is influenced by the internet I think. My work is filled with the mutts that are created when when the world’s culture begins to have sex with itself and spawn mutants. My videos are experiments, never intended for mass production. If I was writing this for an council grant, I’d say it’s about metamorphosis and the images that live in the crossover between the analog and digital world. 

What general process do you go through when coming up for an idea for something like this and how do you develop it?

I like to use the music as a seed, and imagine a world growing out of it. This leads to experimentation by necessity. I’ll listen to a track and think, this song reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoons, or this song reminds me of Voyager Space probe, or troll under a bridge… the songs take you a lot of different places. Especially if you have a mind that’s so full of rubbish absorbed from the internet.

For Spiteful Intervention, I knew I wanted to make images that were dark and creepy, to match the lyrics, but also had a pretty silliness to them, to match the song. I started to think of various images that had that vibe, I could use as influences. Black velvet clowns, the 16th century paintings of fruit arranged to look like faces by Giuseppe Arcimboldo. I also riffed off artist William Blake’s images from the Divine Comedy.

You work with a lot of different media and mediums, do you have one thing you like more than all the others?

My favourite aspect of making videos is that they can be experimentations in storytelling. I chose to make videos in the first place as an alternative to film school, so trying new things and learning the best approaches for setting a certain mood is the whole point. Moving forward, I’d like to work towards becoming a good multimedia storyteller. So for me, it’s not so much about doing more animation, or more live action, but instead developing a long form style where each of those worlds coexist. Not in a Roger Rabbit kind of way. More like how fantasy and naturalistic ideas coexist in our imaginations. For feature film, I’d like to direct meta stories like Slaughterhouse Five (the book, not the crappy movie) or Alan Moore’s  the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, not the crappy movie) or the scifi book Snow Crash. Stories that leave room for absurd cartoons amidst violent and pornographic worlds. :)