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Interview with Sylvain Derosne, Lead Animator on Oscar® Nominated Stop Motion Short Film, "Negative Space"

If there’s one steadfast truth about the medium of animation as a whole and about the inspired act of animating, it is that the probability for novelty is infinite, the possibilities boundless.

In animation – unlike in the medium of live action film – the laws of physics don’t apply – or at least they don’t have to. The potential for strange new worlds to be conceived of and explored has no ceiling, nor does the expressiveness with which characters walk, talk, and emote. So whenever an animated film – particularly a stop motion film – of artistic excellence is released like Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter’s Oscar-nominated short film Negative Space – which is a film that explores a father-and-son relationship and the burden of grief through a lens that is, more often than not, grounded in a reality not unlike ours – it should imbue us, the audience, with the ardor to observe, and the attentiveness to ask the question that is immediately provoked in the back of our minds: Why?

In regards …

Interview with Nadine Buss, Cinematographer on Oscar® Nominated Stop Motion Short Film "Negative Space"

“These are my guidelines for lighting,” Nadine Buss, the cinematographer of the Oscar®-nominated short film Negative Space, tells Stop Motion Geek, “feel, re-explore sensations,” she says, only to then lightheartedly add, “and remember the lights you saw.” Feel. If Buss’s creative fingerprint on Negative Space could be described in just one word, it would be just that.
A beautiful and heart wrenching story, Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter’s Negative Space – a stop motion short film based on a poem of the same title by Ron Koertge – is, in many ways, one story presented as two: One half of the narrative is of a young man – Sam – as he packs a suitcase for travel before then driving to the funeral home where his late father’s viewing is being held. It’s a narrative colored by Buss in the hard, icy light of winter, which contrasts sharply with the sunny, warm light in which the second story is painted – that of the relationship between Sam and his father throughout Sam’s childhood, told thro…

Interview with Frank Harper, Model Maker on Aardman's "Early Man"

From a young age, Frank Harper – a model maker on Aardman’s latest stop motion feature film, Early Man – was fascinated with practical effects-driven films like Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, as well as the work of the legendary special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. Harper, however, doubted that work in the practical effects industry could prove a sustainable career. “So for ages I just went through the motions,” Harper tells Stop Motion Geek. “I left school, got a rubbish job (in a factory that made glasses!) and thought that that was my lot in life, sadly.” It wasn’t until this chapter in his life had gone on for several years that he came to the realization that he wanted to craft a career for himself doing something that he was truly passionate about.


This burning desire to search for a career he was passionate about led Harper to enroll at the City of Bristol College in an Access to Higher Education course. It was during this time that Harper realized that what he was…

Interview with Bram Meindersma, Composer and Sound Designer of Oscar® Nominated Stop Motion Short Film, "Negative Space"

Unlike practically every other medium, film has the unique aesthetic of being composed of the elements of sound and image, and, curiously, whenever watching a film, the two blend together into something of an impeccably hybridized concoction.

With as much influence as sound has over the audience’s final experience of any given film, composer and sound designer Bram Meindersma’s work on the Oscar-nominated stop motion short film Negative Space – directed by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter – proves an endlessly fascinating and extraordinary case study, as it uses sound – both its soundtrack as well as every other element of sound design – only sparingly and in subtle ways, one that could almost be called conservative. Yet it is perhaps just that component of its sound design that, at least in part, makes the film such a powerful one.

Perhaps the reason why Meindersma’s delicate work on Negative Space is so powerful is its thematic resonance with the film’s subject matter. The film poignantl…

Interview with Mark Smith, Director and Writer of Stop Motion Short Film, "Two Balloons"

As I sit, listening to Peter Broderick’s moving composition for piano More Of A Composition, I close my eyes and envisage an enormous funnel cloud skimming across the crystalline face of an ocean – the skies are murky and unusually dark, lightning crackles, spider-webbing across the darkened skies before then vanishing, and still, after its gone, an electricity continues to hum in the air and I simply know that it’s going to soon strike again. And as the scene presents itself to me, I suddenly feel something similar to what director Mark C. Smith felt when he saw the same image as he sailed to a small island called Grenada along with his wife in a timeworn sailboat. For him, in that moment inspiration struck, and the idea suddenly came to him for his heartfelt stop motion film, Two Balloons. For me, I open my eyes and feel as I did the instant Two Balloons faded to black – as if I’ve just woken from a stunning and beautiful dream, one I immediately mourn not being able to see again f…

Interview with Robert Shaw, Director, Writer, and Co-Animator of Stop Motion Short Film "The Machine"

Parables and allegories, amidst every other kind of story that can be told, have a unique and extraordinarily powerful quality that is all their own: They allow us – the audience – to learn lessons about and to see ourselves, others, and the world in which we live through a completely different lens – that of narrative. The best allegories and parables, in fact, have the unique ability to simultaneously act as conduits for important lessons and to also exist as literal stories, which gives them the unique ability to challenge beliefs and ideas held by the audience in a way that only art can do. Some of the most cherished stories ever composed, illustrated, and put on film are parables and allegories, and what makes them so exceptional are how powerful the lessons are that they teach.


Robert Shaw, in his haunting and beautiful stop motion short film The Machine – which he wrote, directed, and co-animated – is this kind – the best kind – of allegory. It manages to be the best of both w…

Interview with Heather Colbert, Director of Stop Motion Music Video for Mark Nevin's "Dolly Said No To Elvis"

It’s a beautiful thing to see an artist – whether budding amateur or an experienced professional – stand up for themselves when in the face of a “business” decision. It’s the moment when an artist who knows their own worth and the worth of their work puts their foot down and stands by their own fortitude, even when they know that doing so could very well affect their reputation, at least in the short-run. Yet, such an display of resolve in quite a large number of artists is so often – sadly, too often – a rarity.

For one reason or another, the bane of many artists seems their willingness to bend to external “business” and financial demands when it comes between them and their art. The reasons for conceding are often complex and intertwined. For some, it might be a decision that’s made for financial reasons and the simple fact that an artistic career can so often be a hard thing to sustain and take “seriously.” Quite simply, it’s rare to see an artist with a businessman’s tenacity, of…

Interview with Heather Colbert, Director and Animator of Ori Dagan's Jazzy Nat King Cole Homage "Bibimbap"

A stop motion iteration of Toronto-based jazz musician Ori Dagan straightens his glossy red bowtie and straightens his hat – the kind that jazz icon Nat King Cole often wore – as he taps his foot to the beat of a lively and blissful piano. Then, looking directly into the camera, he raises an eyebrow and begins to sing.

“He downed a sweet Bellini in the hometown of Fellini. He ordered fresh linguine with pancetta and rapini. But nothing could ever compare to Bib…im…bap,” Dagan reminisces happily in his rich baritone as the delicacies actualize out of midair, a glass of Bellini appearing in his hand and a pile of linguine raining down on him from above in Bristol-based stop motion animator Heather Colbert’s Bimimbap.


Bibimbap is Heather Colbert’s outstanding contribution to Toronto-based Ori Dagan’s “visual jazz album” for his album “Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole,” for which Dagan collaborated with many filmmakers and animators to create music videos for each of the songs on the…

Interview with Marika Aakala, Model Maker on Aardman's "Early Man"

“As a child, I was always making something or drawing something,” Marika Aakala, Finland born and bred model maker on Aardman Animation’s recent stop motion feature film, Nick Park’s Early Man, tells Stop Motion Geek. “I drew my own comics,” Aakala continues, “sculpted things with clay, sewed my own toys, and later built a dollhouse with furniture and dolls while I actually should have been studying for my high school exams.” Yet, despite her inherent knack for making things, Aakala’s journey to the puppet making industry was an indirect one, and the title she now claims – “model maker” – was a destination that took her many years of working in many other industries to discern.

“I have lived most of my life in Finland where I was born in a relatively small village called Hollola. There are no practicing artists in my family, and pursuing an art-related career just did not seem sensible. Certainly, I did not think that I would be good enough to work in the animation industry,” says Aa…

Interview with Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Director of Award Winning Stop Motion Musical "The Burden (Min Börda)"

One might think that today – in the 21st Century – in places where, for a majority of the population, the basic needs to sustain human life are satisfied – food, water, heat, shelter – that much of the population would feel satisfied. Yet so often, especially when it comes to the line of work one takes upon oneself, it seems as if nothing could be further from the truth.

Sometimes it’s so strong that one can practically feel it when in close proximity with the sufferer, like a shock of electricity buzzing through the air. At other times, it can’t be sensed at all, as many try so hard to keep it buried so deep that they themselves are the only ones who know it’s there – a deep and unutterable sense of purposelessness.


So often the thing that stifles the feeling of purposelessness is a web woven from thoughts, thoughts that tell the sufferer that they have nothing to complain about – that their needs are met and that they are, in fact, extraordinarily lucky to have their basic needs me…