It’s not every day that we get to see the film stars of the future at the humble beginnings of their careers. Every once in a while we get an opportunity to peek into a crystal ball at what and who are going to be big in the movies – but I’m not talking about your traditional headlining acts, instead I’m referring to one of the jewels in the crown of Irish Film – the animation industry.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending “All Good Things” IADT’s 2014 Animation Graduate exhibition and Screening – and although I’m just a passerby with a lifelong fondness for “cartoons” – it was a thoroughly enjoyable showcase that proved that Irish animation is in safe hands for the future.
The Irish animation industry is presently enjoying a Golden Age, with multiple studios producing both original productions and animation work for the likes of Disney and Cartoon Network. Some of the most notable names include, Boulder Media (who have won BAFTAs for their work on The Amazing World of Gumball), Brown Bag Studios (Octonauts, Hugglewugs) , JAM media (Roy) and Cartoon Saloon who created the gorgeous Secret of Kells.
These are just a fraction of the companies the graduates will be planning their futures. As Ireland steps into a future that is uncertain, one thing is sure, its visual effects and animation is on a pathway to new growth and looking at these graduates is full of potential.
The Lighthouse Cinema was full to the brim, bursting with anticipation for a screening of short films and showcases that represented – not just one year of work but four years of preparation. With viewers from the very young to the young at heart, parents, creators, friends and mentors gathered to watch what might not be the beginning of their artistic careers but certainly a significant chapter. And what an entertaining, poignant, mind-blowing, exhilarating, imaginative, funny chapter it was. The animators displayed distinctive talents with from artistic skill and inventiveness to creativity and a command of story and timing that seasoned filmmakers I’m sure would envy.
While each of the exhibits and films were commendable in their own way, there were a number of stand outs that hovered in my mind as I made the journey home. First among these was Clare Carroll’s stop-motion comedy – ‘A Girl’s Best Friend’ which kept the audience laughing throughout its run time and managed to tell one of the most convincing stories of ‘unlikely friendship’ I’ve ever seen. The stop motion puppetry was wonderful, the lighting and individual shots were beautiful and the comedic timing was unparalleled.
Melissa Malone delighted with achingly beautiful backgrounds in ‘Lena and Gray’ which made me want to bathe in the same rich hues her characters found themselves in.
This was contrasted by Eva Kavanagh’s ‘Useless’. It told a powerful story about decommissioned robots, that had not unflattering reminders of George Orwell throughout.
Another showcase that sizzled was Katie O’ Meara’s ‘Sunlight’, which danced through an up-beat soundtrack and melted from shot to shot, taking the audience through a medley of beautifully animated light effects that managed to leave us with not just the image of sunlight, but what it feels like to be dancing in it too.
There is little I can say about Anita Gaughan’s ‘Vertical Horizon’s’ other than I can’t wait for the day that it becomes a feature length film – not only was it incredible to look at, it immediately brought the entire audience on a fantastic journey through the clouds on the wings of the world’s coolest eagle. My descriptions don’t do it justice.
Dee McDonnell’s ‘Tiger & Wolf’ closed the show with a sparkling tale about how even the best of friends can have disagreements that separate them. Her characters were imbued with a personality that told a story that lived in their eyes – and was a fitting finish to what was a screening of stories that were so entertaining and professional, they could fool the audience into thinking that these creations were easily born.
But we know better, we know the work, the blood, the sweat and the proverbial tears that went into creating each of the exhibits and films. The creativity that made these stories was born of years of hard work, education and immersive art. Writing scripts, sketching storyboards, designing characters and backgrounds – not to mention creating the animation proper.
It seems like a lot to go through for a few minutes of animation. But the graduates of IADT 2014 seem to know that it’s worth it, worth the work to dream the dream, to tell the stories and to make the delighted child who sat in front of me laugh for the whole evening long. Afterall, they are the future stars of Animation.
The IADT Animation BA (Hons) Exhibition can be viewed in IADT Dun Laoghaire, from Friday June 6th to June 10th. You won’t be sorry you had a look.