Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Awesomeness of Patrick Smith

I only recently discovered Patrick Smith, stumbling across him in my search for inspiration over the summer, and I almost instantly fell in love with his wonderfully traditional, sketchy, hand-drawn style of animation (a rarity these days in finished films), and his awesome yet twisted takes on relatively common-place scenarios which he uses in his storytelling. The first film of his I found,'Puppet' (which you can watch below), is a nice twist on the relationship between puppet and puppeteer and a brilliant example of how easily the tables could turn if the inanimate objects under our control suddenly gained lives of their own. The story instantly spoke to me, as animators are essentially puppet masters who control their characters or 'dolls' through drawing rather than strings, and I've always been fascinated by the concept of my own creations coming to life and gaining wills of their own, which I've attempted to explore through my work in earlier years.

While it was 'Puppet' that put he idea of my character having to battle an inanimate object come to life in my head, it was an earlier film of Smith's, 'Handshake', that sparked the idea of hair. The film itself has absolutely nothing to do with hair, but I absolutely love how something as simple and everyday as shaking hands with a stranger morphed into an intensely freaky battle for survival, using being stuck together as a visual metaphor for the possible relationship issues the woman (who eventually consumes the man) might experience on a regular basis when she meets new potential love interests. (Or at least that was my interpretation...) Watching this made me realise I wanted a story that similarly takes an ordinary, everyday situation and twists it into something quirky and unique, perhaps as a literal visual interpretation of some sort of inner conflict.

It was as I was thinking about this while washing my hair that the thought suddenly hit me... I've always had trouble with my long hair. Nothing major that's ever made me want to cut it all off, but there's always been little minor annoyances that naturally come with growing it past your waist. Things like getting it caught on door handles and sitting on it, thus resulting in painful neck jerks and you try to lean forward, and it naturally just getting in the way while down (especially if its a windy day). To avoid accidentally suffocating myself in my sleep I've always kept my hair tied back in a ponytail in bed, yet despite this I've lost count of how many times I've woken up over the years to find my hair wrapped around my neck as though its alive. ...That... would be rather scary if my hair was the vengeful sort, wouldn't you agree?

Which lead me to my next trail of thought... Over the years people have constantly asked me 'why don't you cut your hair?' Why oh why would I possibly want to keep it this long? Doesn't it get annoying? There have been quite a few occasions during my adolescence when I've considered what life would be like with shorter, more manageable hair, but at the end of the day I've never had the confidence or the guts to actually go through with it (which I'm very glad about now). So what if my character's 'battle' was a representation of her inner conflict over getting her overly long hair cut? I know it must sound silly, but anyone who's nurtured and lovingly cared for long hair for as many years as I have can't take the thought of suddenly losing what they've put so much effort into preserving lightly. They say hair is dead, but if that wasn't true, wouldn't we be attacking our hair every time we go to the hairdressers in an attempt to tailor it to our whims? We're actually very brutal and violent hosts; and I honestly wouldn't blame our hair for fighting back against the threat of scissor blades or, from the hair's point of view, impending doom. I suppose this is a very personal story subject for me, but that's what makes the thought of exploring it through animation all the more exciting, and I think it'll prove to be excellent incentive for my character to show off some really interesting and exaggerated movements and facial expressions, which is what I'm going for this module.

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