Raindance Film Festival 2021
Shorts Programme: Animation 1
Best Animation Short Nominee
Late at night, Billy Pilgrim views his world in reverse, and sees the universe defying the logic he attaches to it. Illustrating a passage from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Someplace In Time looks through charcoal, watercolour, collage and film to capture the mind of a man reliving his past.
Hey Scott, it's great to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
It's a pleasure. I'm doing fine, keeping myself busy with work, both personal and professional, and exploring New York on my off time.
Has this time offered you the chance to find some new inspiration or opportunities?
It definitely has. I've been able to work through a lot of passion projects recently. A lot of friends and other artists have been doing the same, which are usually my main inspiration for my own work.
Congratulations on having your European Premiere of Someplace In Time at Raindance 2021, what does it mean to you to be at the festival?
Thank you, much appreciated! Film Festivals have always been a passion of mine, it's a way to showcase more experimental, traditional, and different forms of animation and storytelling that I enjoy working with. To me, being at Raindance means that these methods of art-making are real and valid and that I can continue to pursue them to make something new. Usually, I'm finishing a piece and looking towards my next work, so it's nice to be able to look back at something completed and see people enjoying it.
You're nominated for Best Animation Short, did you imagine you would gain this type of reaction and response for your film?
Raindance, and the nomination, was a complete surprise to me. I make animated films because I enjoy the process of making them. Animation and illustration is not only how I support myself, but also a hobby outside of that. It's nice to be finding an interested audience for work that I enjoy making for myself.
Can you tell me a little bit about Someplace In Time, what was it about the passage in Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-five that inspired you to make this animation?
Kurt Vonnegut's message, throughout all his books, is to be kind. "There's only one rule that I know of babies - Goddamnit you've got to be kind." He once wrote. In this passage of SlaughterHouse-five, especially, he takes on one of the most atrocious events in recent history, and imagines it differently, in a situation where people help and care for each other. It takes a unique mind to write this passage, which is why I was so drawn to it. Vonnegut also has such an identifiable way of writing and storytelling that I wanted to translate visually.
As well as direct Someplace In Time you also produced and edited your film, how do you balance all these creative roles on a project like this?
I don't usually think of them as different roles. I directed, animated, and produced the film, but those are just different parts of creating one cohesive piece. They all work together in tandem, and it allows for experimentation and changes that keep the process alive and breathing. For me, it's more about playing and having the freedom to explore and grow my own craft and skill set.
What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced making Someplace In Time?
There were a lot of technical challenges in creating the film. It was done with zero budget and using my own free time. Limitations such as space to work, materials, and time were always an issue. All the frames, over 500, were drawn and watercoloured on paper, so working out of an apartment, especially in Brooklyn, was challenging in terms of organization and space. These frames were then shot with a camera and strung together, and not having a budget or equipment meant I needed to find creative ways around these technical problems, whether it be building a stop motion rig from scratch or experimenting enough with the equipment I did have access to.
Have you always had a passion for animation?
I think my passion started with illustration. I have always loved to draw and paint. Additionally, I was always interested in storytelling. Writing was an outlet for me to share my ideas. When I found that there was a way to put these two passions together, I ran with it. It's fun to find different ways of visually representing a story.
"...I think it's important to think of things like programs and software as tools that you can choose to use or not."
Do you have any advice or tips you would offer any emerging illustrator/animator?
Something that I was always taught was to make work for yourself, work that you enjoy making and that eventually, an audience will form. I also emphasize the importance of working in new and unique ways. Especially in animation, where the technology and art form are so new that it's always changing, I think it's important to think of things like programs and software as tools that you can choose to use or not. Don't be beholden to one method of art-making, try a new process every time in hopes of learning something new to add to your toolbox.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away Someplace In Time?
I hope that people will take away Vonnegut's main message of kindness, and his strange way of seeing the world. I also hope to inspire anyone to try their hand at art-making, or to continue to grow what they already know.