‘Ordaemonium’ dir. Gergely Wootsch (2010)

A short animation film about the narrow line between chaos and order, dream and awake, childhood trauma and spaghetti – and obsessive behaviour.

Year: 2010
Country: UK
Director: Gergely Wootsch
Writer: Gergely Wootsch
Producers: Gergely Wootsch/Royal College of Art

 

10 Questions for Gergely Wootsch


 

C8: Tell us a little bit about yourself – where have you been hiding, and how did you come across your amazing name?!  

GW: They say sunlight is the worst enemy of the animator. Consequently, I’m found usually hiding behind a computer screen somewhere in a dimly-lit room. My first name is Hungarian, but my family name’s origin is a total mystery. At one point it was thought to be Transylvanian-Saxon. Anyhow, a possible international career was never on the table when my name was chosen.

C8: Who are your animation influences and what do you owe them?

GW: Two of the strongest animation influences I remember are Gerald Scarfe’s animated sequence from ‘The Wall’ and the ‘making of’ from the ‘Toy Story’ DVD. One stunned me visually, and the other seemed like so much fun (I might have been slightly misled on the latter).

I think I owe a lot to movies and music. I grew up watching dark and grainy films, like ‘Eraserhead’, or ‘Himmel Uber Berlin’, playing piano, and fiddling with electronic devices, mostly computers parts. Strange childhood if you ask me. Music is especially useful for working with time-based media, I think.

C8: You describe ’Ordaemonium’ on your website as ‘A very short (and dark) animation film about the narrow line between chaos and order, dream and awake, childhood trauma and spaghetti – and obsessive behaviour’ –  is the dreamscape a space that seems particularly apt for animators?

GW: Oh, good question. On one hand, I think animation is a perfect medium for instinctual artists/film-makers. There are no constraints imposed by the physical-world, and the existing rules can be bent with no consequences. I did find this to be liberating when working on ‘Ordaemonium’.

On the other hand, the dreamscape is nothing specific for animation. Animation I think is just as apt for visual storytelling as artistic exploration. But the same can be said about film or photography, etc.

C8: You’ve worked across a variety of abstract and experimental projects, are you relishing the opportunity to work on a story-driven piece with the ‘The Hungry Corpse’?

GW: Absolutely. Since ‘Ordaemonium’ I have made another short film that was story-driven but even there I put emphasis on the notion of abstract narrative. So yes, ‘The Hungry Corpse’ should be a departure from that. It will be a great experience to be part of.

C8: Forgive the stupid question but how does it work with animation? Talk us through the collaborative process during production?

GW: Firstly, it is the matter of finding the right style and characters to illustrate the concept. James (Pout, writer of ‘The Hungry Corpse’) was quite definite about what he had in mind. Still, I tried quizzing him as much as possible because this helps me to build the rules of the film’s universe.  I then take these notions away and, based on them, come up with a look. Then, after feedback from James, Rankin Film Productions and Steve, my producer, these initial visual ideas become more refined environments and character designs.

Once the design is approved it is all down to storyboarding and the ‘animatics’ (essentially animated storyboards). This means carefully planning the shots and their length because in the world of animation you really have to produce only what’s going to be used. Simultaneously, the voice actors are secured and recorded so we can enter production fully prepared.

C8: Who are the most exciting up and coming animators in The UK?

GW: Good grief. I find many people’s work exciting. I heard David Prosser has a new short film. And Mikey Please is working on one too. There’s also Joseph Pierce and I’m sure Eamonn O’Neill’s RCA graduation piece ‘Left’ is going to make ripples in the festival circuit. I really enjoyed Karolina Glusiec’s and Anna Eijsbouts work at this year’s Royal College of Art graduation show. Generally, I wish there were more female animators to name.

C8: What’s your best piece of advice for all the newbie animators out there trying to break through?

GW: I would have said a few years ago that hard work is very important. I still believe this to be valid, but hard work is worth little without exciting, or valuable ideas. Also, industry contacts and experience are a must, even if you are planning to be an independent animator.

C8: Is there a risk that you’ll be pigeonholed into working in a certain style? Is it important to keep a diverse portfolio?

GW: There are people with much more definite style than I do. I think one of my strengths is that I can adapt well to challenges. So yes, I think it is very important to have a diverse portfolio, and no, I don’t think I will be pigeonholed.

C8: Given the new tax breaks introduced for animation in the UK, are you excited about the future of the industry?

GW: Yes, tremendously. I always have the odd feeling that the talent pool working in the UK is much stronger than actual productions show, especially when it comes to long-form. I would love to see more animated feature films made in the UK.

C8: Apart from your Collabort8e short ‘The Hungry Corpse’, what’s next on the horizon for Gergely Wootsch?

GW: Well, let’s see how this goes. Making an animated short is a bit like living on an uninhabited island alone. I really don’t know what message the bottle will hold once it touches shore