ACTING for ANIMATORS
ED'S MONTHLY NEWSLETTER:
MARK MEYERSON HAS SOME SMART,
Mark is one of the talented animation teachers at Sheridan College in Toronto, and he writes a terrific blog, Mark Meyerson on Animation. In his May 21st posting he offers some unusually perceptive advice about how you can merchandise your own animation. Good stuff!
SOMETHING LOVELY TO WATCH
Here is a 4-minute, 1922 Kodachrome color test done by Kodak. No plot, no acting, just pretty ladies in front of the camera, doing what pretty ladies did in 1922. Very unusual footage, a window into the past that feels strangely just like the present. Thanks to Greg Alexander for bringing this clip to my attention.
THINKING ABOUT U.S. ANIMATION SCHOOLS?Karl Cohen, President of ASIFA-San Francisco, has written an excellent article for the ASIFA membership entitled (deep breath...). "Tips for People who are Serious about Getting Started and Want to Succeed in an Animation Career: From Picking a School to Getting that First Job." Karl typically calls things like they are, which is one reason he is one of my favorite people in the world. In this article, he loads your plate with plenty of meaty career tips. Read it, and pass it on!
ACTING FOR ANIMATORS WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
Singapore. Maybe. Working on it. Stay tuned.
"HOW ABOUT THIS VILLAIN?"
We talk about heroes and villains in every Acting for Animators masterclass, and I drive home the point that a villain does not think he is a villain. Every person, even the worst among us, is the protagonist in his or her own life, the hero. People who do evil things don't consider themselves inherently evil. A villain can be defined as "a regular person that has a fatal flaw." Villains are trying to survive just like the rest of us. The difference between us and them has to do with personal values. If you think about it, Hannibal Lector would make a marvelous dinner guest if he did not have this thing about eating the other diners.
After a recent class in Germany, I received a note from one of the animators who had been there. "It makes sense what you are saying about villains," she wrote, "but what about the villains in movies like Batman and Superman? They think of themselves as villains, don't they? Don't they enjoy bedlam and destruction?" Great question! Astute observation! The bottom-line explanation is that the way those villains are presented is a factor of the intended audience. What I told you in class is still accurate.
Yes, the villains in all of the super-hero movies enjoy a good killing and some city-wide destruction. Lex Luthor is thrilled when he puts Superman in a physically vulnerable and imminently fatal situation. The Joker thinks it is super-cool to torment Batman and set fires all over the place. These characters are archetype comic book villains who look, smell and act like villains. But you have to keep in mind that in the early days comic books were mostly read by kids between the ages of 6 and 11. Today, the typical comic book reader is older, and comic books are routinely used as launching pads for feature films - though the stories and characters are still written mainly for kids. Adults in the audience nostalgically revert to their younger and more innocent selves while watching. That is in fact what makes the genre, often referred to as "escapist entertainment," so wildly popular. The super-hero action movies make it possible for adults to temporarily walk away from the confusions and burdens of adulthood and to see the world once again through a child's trusting eyes.
We live in challenging times in which newspaper headlines reflect situational ethics and pragmatism. A dear friend one day (Saddam Hussein, 1983) can be an arch-enemy the next (Saddam Hussein, 2007). It can be difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad ones. One person's "banality of evil" may be another person's glorious and holy campaign to make the world a better place. Because we want our children to make it safely into adulthood, we grown-ups tell them easy-to-grasp stories filled with platitudes and ethical absolutes. Good guys look like Dorothy and Spider-Man and bad guys look like the Wicked Witch of the West and Darkseid.
As I have said often in this newsletter, you don't tell a story to kids the way you would tell the same story to adults. A typical 10-year-old has no possible way of comprehending grown-up issues like romantic love, the power in dreams, the fact that life is finite. She could care less about situational ethics or whether we need campaign finance reform in Washington. She cannot be expected to know that "bad" can look exactly like "good". A real-world villain may act like the parish priest or her sweet little next-door neighbor. She will hopefully have plenty of time later to consider the Big Questions of adulthood and to pass along that knowledge to her own kids. When that day arrives, she too will enjoy temporarily escaping into the movie world of superheroes and dastardly villains, once again seeing them through a child's eyes.
Until next month...
Copyright © 2012-2016 Ed Hooks