It’s almost Oscar time as I’m working on this post, and a recent episode of The Creative Penn got me thinking about my journey into animation. I think the lessons would benefit some of you out there in readerland.
Over the last few episodes Joanna’s guests have mentioned the fear new writers feel about their work. They’re not good enough, they can’t write, they’re worried people won’t like it. I felt the same way about filmmaking and animation, but let me share some eye-opening information for you.
Audiences Are More Open Minded Than You’d Think
Last year my wife noted there was an indie theater showing the Oscar nominated short animated movies, and she asked me if I wanted to go. My answer was an emphatic hell yes!
Over the course of about two hours, we took in plenty of good animation from all over the world. There were a whole bunch of 3D animated movies (I think Pixar had an entry, as well as Dreamworks, and several others). But that wasn’t all – there were some 2D animated movies as well, some more basic linework, and two that were really, really simply animated.
The simple ones really stood out to me, and we talked a while on the way home. One was a scifi story that had a very deep theme about human consciousness told using very childlike art; the other one was a story about a traffic light, told through a simple yet interesting style. They were both great, and they really stood out for me.
As I was watching this, I was struck at how wide a range of styles made it to the Oscars. I think a lot of people expect the only ones getting that nod are the 3D offerings, but it’s definitely not the case. These shorts all had the same common element: there was a powerful story at the core of the film. Even the basic animations had really good storytelling.
One of my personal favorites was Bear Story (which went on to win the Oscar. You can watch it below)
It’s Not Just Animation
After leaving that show, I started thinking about what I see at a comicon when I go. When you walk through the artists’ alley, there’s a wide range of styles being represented in your average con. Some are Katsuhiro Otomo level are; others are very simple drawings. As you walk along and you look around, people stop and talk to many of the artists. There’s a common theme here – if the artist is personable, people will talk to them. Some will stay a while and a few will actually buy stuff.
There’s Plenty Of Room
The takeaway here is no matter what you’re working on, even if you think it’s bad, chances are there are plenty of people out there who will love what you’ve got. All it takes is The Thousand Dedicated Followers and you could make a decent living at your art. Produce the best work you know how and get it out into the world. Consistently.