Category Archives: Profiles

MinnAnimate Profile: Emily Fritze

emily fritze profilePic

Probably everyone in the business has heard the saying that animators are shy actors, and I think that’s true in my case. I like telling stories but not public speaking, so animation is perfect for me.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.
Nate Sipes of the bluegrass band Pert Near Sandstone wrote this cool song called “Ship of Fools” that recalls this mythic custom originating in Renaissance times of putting all the town crazies on a boat, and sending them down the coast, picking up lunatics until they ran out of places to go, just aimlessly floating and being in a situation that becomes more and more surreal and mad. Kind of like a party bus, but with scurvy and death. This animation illustrates that concept, and was inspired by the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?
I like to sketch in ballpoint, and I also do digital illustrations that sometimes end up being concept paintings for animations I’d like to do. My sketchbooks are full of weird characters, and I come up with ideas for stories by building plots around those characters.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?
My new favorite is the short “Bee and Puppycat” by Natasha Allegri, who was a writer and art director on Adventure Time. Another AT person, Rebecca Sugar, does great work and is on the verge of being the first woman to helm her very own show on Cartoon Network, Steven Universe, so she’s a hero of mine. Stylistically I admire the scratchy art of Heidi Smith, who worked on Paranorman, and Carter Goodrich.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?
Coming from South Dakota, MN is a great place for animation! I really think there’s a solid network of like-minded people in the area, but we need to be more prominent in the film/arts community.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Michelle Brost

 leonard

Why do you like animation?

I wanted to study animation at MCAD literally because it was the only medium I knew absolutely nothing about, and wanted to try my hand at. I love to draw, I always have, so I felt my skills there would see me through. Once I finished my first character animation class I knew I wanted to be an animator. I love making things move, and telling stories. I like to make people laugh.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.

“Leonard” is a project I made in my senior year at MCAD. I wrote it initially to fit within the time constraints we were given (no more than 2 minutes). I wanted to do something funny, or at least funny to me, since I’d be working on it pretty much all the time for about 10 months. It is the first fully realized animation I’ve made.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

Before I became pretty engrossed in animation as a digital format, I loved to paint with watercolor. I’m really attracted to bright palettes, which is probably why “Leonard” is so saturated in color. I also used some watercolor textures in the backgrounds that I had scanned into Photoshop. I also love film, so my approach to animation tends to be very cinematic and less “cartoon” like. I’ve been told I have a naturalistic style of animation…I animate characters based on how they would move in real life.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

David O’Reilly is probably my all-time favorite contemporary animator. He uses 3D low poly characters in really conceptual and interesting ways. He’s also not afraid to tell people what’s on his mind, and he’s a very accessible artist – I’ve had conversations with him on twitter and via email. As far as structure and writing, I think I’m very influenced by Wes Anderson, specifically his stop motion “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”. It was the first animation I saw that really opened my mind to the possibilities of the medium.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

I think there are a lot of opportunities to make work in Minnesota with all the artist grants that are available. There are a couple animation studios in town that were started by MCAD grads. From that point of view, I think MCAD gives its students the skill and work ethic to be able to be successful. Once you graduate and overcome the student loan dread, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. On the other hand, you don’t even need to go to college to be an animator. Tom Schroeder, who was one of my animation teachers at MCAD, just started making films because it was what he wanted to do. Now he’s a pretty successful independent animator. I think that’s kind of awesome, and it definitely inspires me. 
 
I think to make Minnesota a better place for animation, we just need to keep supporting artists. Especially young kids who show an interest in the arts…I knew a lot of kids when I was younger who weren’t supported in their artistic talents and they just stopped using them. I was very lucky and had a very supportive family, but there were always comments from my peers such as “you have too much time on your hands” or I had people asking me if I was going to be a “starving artist”. I didn’t care about those comments then, and I don’t care about them now. I do what I can to live, and make work, and it couldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had even the tiniest bit of support. So, supporting and encouraging young artists is absolutely essential.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Wolfgang Wick

Spaceman Jones
Why do you like animation?

I think it’s a fun way to pass the time, but most importantly I feel that, in the end, animations look far better on screen than people do.

Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.

It’s a short about SPACE NATURE (include dramatic voice when reading) documentation, that takes a turn for the silly.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?

Unfortunately, no. It makes it incredibly difficult for me to animate due to the fact that I have no skill with sculpting, drawing, or tailoring. I feel my sets and characters always come up short.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?

Tim Burton and Henry Selick are the two that come to mind right away. Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie are wonderful films that I adore, although Coraline is by far my favorite film.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

It doesn’t seem like a bad place to do animation, but I’m not really a good judge for that. I really think that to make it a better place for animation, we just need more animators.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Greg Bro

FPFF_stillForLACS-1

Why do you like animation?
I love how animation blends some of my favorite forms of creative expression; writing, drawing, and yelling strange voices into a microphone. I love how one can use the elements of visuals, timing, and sound to tell a story, convey a mood, or just make someone laugh. Animation is a craft that’s uniquely rewarding in that it truly gives you what you’re willing to put into it. You just have to be crazy enough to endure. If you’re willing to take that time though, the rewards are endless.
Tell us about your short in this year’s festival.
At the Burger Buddy, you never know who might stop by for a burger & some fries. Written, voiced, and animated by Greg Bro, “Famous People. Fast Food.” debuted at the 2013 L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival.
Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?
I love writing, humor, and storytelling, so they’re natural elements that feed into my animated work. I find I can’t even doodle now without thinking of them in the context of a fuller narrative.
Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?
Hard to say. It can truly vary from project to project. I find I am just as influenced by live action storytelling as I am by animated media. Visually though I tend to enjoy the richer visuals of children’s shows (Adventure Time, Regular Show, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) and the writing/humor of the more adult oriented programming (South Park, Bob’s Burgers, Breaking Bad). If you make your brain available, there’s inspiration everywhere.
Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?

I believe the potential is there. The conduit between the creative and their audience is a little more challenging to find in MN, but the talent and the appetite for it is there. There needs to be more opportunities, like MinnAnimate, for artists to showcase their work and connect with an audience.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Dave and Mary Sandberg

daveandmary

We work as a team. We worked commercially in California and Minnesota from the mid 70ʼs until about 2000. We wanted to do animation for adults and together we created the feature My Art School Summer. Since then – we work on shorts and Dave teaches Character Animation and Storyboard at MCAD.
We like mixing theater/story and drawing. Dave has been drawing comics with the Cartoonist Conspiracy, and making mini comics that become storyboards for us to animate – and that is how Climate Conference came into being.
Favorite inspirational animators; Tex Avery, Jay Ward, Bruno Bozzetto, Picha and Renaissance paintersʼ drawing skills.
Longer winters would give more time indoors animating; we never get much animation done in the summer.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Mahieu Studios

Mahieu Studios Productions

Mahieu Studios Productions consists of illustrator and artist, Mahieu Spaid, and animator, Levi Spaid. We are a husband and wife team. I, Mahieu, create the original drawings and storyline for my husband to animate. The idea for our animation, Life Under the Dome, came about when I started illustrating new cartoon characters for my first children’s book, Adventures of Lucy and Bryan: King of Wild Island. I’ve always been a fan of anime, manga and comics. This year instead of wondering how the animators did everything I went out and purchased my first digital drawing pad. I started creating digital drawings and couldn’t stop. I loved the way my characters looked in print but something was missing. I like animation because it brings more personality to my drawings and illustrations. As an artist I think of the way a character will act, look, and speak. sometimes a flat 2D drawing isn’t enough. There was something missing from the experience I wanted to provide to people who enjoy my work.
Luckily, my husband, Levi is quick to learn new programs and technologies. He helped bring my characters to life so the picture is complete. An animation combines all the senses and reaches out to the audience in a way a 2D print can’t. Some of the animators or people in animation that I was influenced by were Hayao Miyazaki and Richard Williams. I remember reading and seeing his Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Miyazaki’s work was different from what I was used to seeing on television. I remember staying up late during a school night just to see some of his directed work on TV. I also love “classic” animator’s like Richard Williams, who produced large productions, like Toy Story. Some of the animators like Richard survived the industry for more than forty years. I loved the fact that he produced a book called The Animator’s Survival Kit.

Here in Minnesota, we need to have a larger presence for animators. I remember talking with students going to school for animation in this state and their teacher telling them they would probably have to move to California to continue their schooling. I’d love to see more animators from Minnesota carve out a name for themselves with the east and west coast competition. In other words, thank you for posting your group on the art boards and putting together film festivals for those of us who love animation.

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MinnAnimate Profile: Caleb Wood

calebwood

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your animation.

I was born in Colorado, grown throughout several Midwestern states, and currently reside in northern Minnesota. I was allowed to watch lots of cartoons growing up, which were a heavy influence on how I approached art in my younger years. I never really thought about being an animator when i was a kid though, I just knew I wanted to make art in general. It wasn’t until I understood how animation was made that I realized I could pursue it as an art form. Once that happened, I became addicted to it, and wanted to learn all about it. At this point in my life I am certain that animation will be my lifelong pursuit.


Why do you like animation?

I love it for so many reasons, mostly because it is honestly the most versatile, collective, and limitless of art forms. It allows me to use any medium of creation within a format of time, space, and sound. I am able to create any experience that I can imagine, a fully choreographed moment, for viewers to take in as a collective audience. Within a film create life, watch it grow, and let it die.


Tell us about this short.

Worm from caleb wood on Vimeo.

“Worm” was influenced by Takashi Murata, Adam Beckett, and MRI scanning. It is an attempt to create the sense of three dimensional forms through using hand drawn two dimensional animated loops.

bird shit from caleb wood on Vimeo.

“Bird Shit” is a film composed of cell phone photos of bird shit played in sequence. The photos and sound were taken on a walk through Yoyogi Park near Shinjuku Tokyo in Japan.

Do you do other kinds of art that inform your animation work?
 
I mess around with music, take photography and video, draw daily, rarely write, view an excessive amount of films, sometimes sculpt with clay, and explore stuff outside.

Who are some of your favorite/inspirational animators?
 
Norman Mclarren, Adam Beckett, Takashi Ito, Takashi Murata, Koji Yamamura, Yuri Norstein, Jiri Barta, Pritt Parn, Katsuhiro Otomo, Amy Kravits, Matti Kutt, Ketia Kurasaka, David Lynch, Don Hertzfeldt, Jan Svankmajer, Chriss Sullivan, Jonathan Hodgson,
and many many more.

Is Minnesota a good place to do animation? And what do we need here to make it a better place for animation?
 
For me it is a great place to work and create for personal reasons, but I do not think there are very many animators creating non commercial work within the state. Minnanimate is a great start to exposing our state to the auteur animated short film. Having more people understand animation, and appreciate it, is the only thing you need to make Minnesota a better place for it.

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