ROCKING THE INDUSTRY

When we look at the world of animation, the thing that usually comes first to mind are the big films. By this I mean the $100 million or more epic features like Big Hero 6 or How to Train Your Dragon 2. We hear and dream about the big studios behind these features and consider the large sums of money being thrown around in their creation. We gasp at the fate of big animation executives like Dreamworks Founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose salary was recently cut by over half, and how he must now struggle on a mere $6.4 million per year. Nevermind that a few whole movies could be made on that money, which is less than 10% of what is being spent by the majors.

As an independent creator, you need to get your head squarely and completely out of those clouds. We are not a part of that game. Trying to get into or become a part of that game is nearly an exercise in futility. You need to create your own game.

Rocks in my Pocket

A perfect example of this is the indie creator Signe Baumane and her recent micro-budget feature film Rocks in my Pockets. This film was apparently on the short list for the Oscars, but was not nominated in the end. Being a realistic tale about depression and suicide, based on true events, maybe it was too indie for them. While many Hollywood animated features are little different than live action blockbusters, she travels the paths that only animation can travel. She spoke about this not long ago in an interview with Vice.

“Telling that amount of history in a live action film is nearly impossible. Showing how a person feels from inside, how depression works from inside, is also nearly impossible in live action.

Do you remember that film A Beautiful Mind about the mathematician who went crazy? To depict his state of mind, they used blurry spinning images. This is all the language you have in live action. In animation it's different; you can just walk into a person's mind and you can show everything going on in there. In animation you're free to do anything you want.”

Indie Animated film Rocks in my pocket

Is this really true? Of course we know it is, but you might not think so looking at the big films in the industry. They are just as formulaic and, in some ways, lacking in artistry as any Hollywood Blockbuster. For the indie, any attempt to mimic that would be a recipe for disaster. This is a notion of which I am often reminded by independent animation veteran Paul Fierlinger, who has long been advising me to put more realism and more of myself into my work. He is adamant that the indie trying to directly compete with Hollywood, or anime, or anything else mainstream will find themselves without an audience. Signe Baumane certainly has her style and definitely speaks from her heart in her films. This makes them decidedly different than the mainstream.

Rocks in my Pockets Indie Film

“...what really bums me out is that animation is misunderstood as a medium for children; this makes me really upset. Animation has been around for ages, it was the first moving images. Then sometime around the 1920s, it was hijacked by children.”

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