Signe Baumane's "Teat Beat of Sex" (L) and Greg Ford/Mark Kausler's "It's the Cat" (R)
I've said it before and I'll say it again: being an independent animator can be lonely, difficult work... until you get yourself out there and meet other independent animators! One of the great things about living in New York is that there are a lot of them, and if you know where to look, you just might find a few. Over the past year I experienced a real challenge in leaving good paying work and a "career" behind to do my own films, but the extraordinary friendliness of some of New York's best animators has really helped me keep my head up. By going to ASIFA events, showing in festivals and being sure to say hello whenever the opportunity presents itself, I've met and gotten to know many artists whose work I had admired for years.
Today was particularly special as I managed to visit both Signe Baumane and Greg Ford's studios. Signe has been one of New York's best independents over the past decade and shared an unusual perspective on her work habits. She said she is inhabited by three people: a child whose endless curiosity drives her to bounce out of bed and get right to work at 6 am, a mother who reminds her to take a break and feed herself at lunchtime, and a father who cracks the whip and rails against anything that might look like laziness. I think I could use more of the mother in my own personality: I often go on a tear with work where showering, eating, exercising and doing laundry falls by the wayside.
Greg seemed similarly hellbent on personal sacrifice. He is currently producing a sequel to "It's the Cat", the phenomenal 2004 short he created with Mark Kausler. Well, Mark is back and so is that cat. These guys are doing it for real: everything on hand-painted cels shot under perhaps the last surviving Oxberry animation camera in New York City. Greg played three versions of the film for me, explaining that the timing of the last two versions were adjusted by 1) three frames and 2) a single frame (that's 1/24th of a second over a 3 minute film). I pretended to see the difference as it allowed me to watch Mark's virtuoso performance with a pencil several times over. Who has the sixth sense developed for detecting such a singular slice of time? Amazing. Special thanks to Adrian Urquidez for arranging my visit and Larry Q., the Ford Studios cameraman for showing me how an Oxberry works (one more childhood dream fulfilled).