As a part of my PhD research, I recently did an interview with two young independent Slovak animators, Michaela Čopíková and Veronika Obertová, who work together as a creative duo called Ove Pictures. When I studied their webpage http://ovepictures.com/ as a preparation for the interview, I noticed that they divided their animated work into 3 main categories: animated films, music videos and commissioned work. This interesting categorization caught my eye, especially in respect of the music videos. What do they mean for the independent animators? Are music videos friends or foes? As usually happens, when I do deeper interviews within my research or use the methodology of oral history in general; my original hypothesis (that making of music videos can’t be creatively or financially too interesting for independent authorship animators) had to be changed a lot.
I wasn’t totally wrong about everything. From the financial point of view, music videos are indeed very charitable work. “Usually, the bands that we collaborate with aren’t very rich and have a truly modest budget for the video. The money could never cover the time and the amount of work that we dedicate to the clip,” confirmed Čopíková.
But there are many pros against this one con as I soon became aware of. “We really like to work on music videos because it is such a liberating experience. First of all, you don’t need to worry so much about the story and script. The important thing is to get it all together in harmony with the music. That means that you can be braver than usually, try new things, experiment.” In case of Ove Pictures, they never tried for example to animate puppets before. Then they got an offer to make a music video for a Slovak singer Jana Kirschner. They used this opportunity and brought to life a wonderful character of a courageous tattooed “sexy as hell” puppet sailorwomen, full of meticulously crafted details.
Jana Kirschner: O laske nepoznanej (About Love Unknown) http://vimeo.com/33308194
In another music video called IDAHO, they playfully animated tinfoil, for example.
Antioquia: IDAHO http://vimeo.com/40647604
“Music videos are like matches for us. They fire up our creativity. Sometimes, we have some crazy big idea but we can’t realize it at the moment because of the long process of making an animated short. So we usually postpone it and postpone it and it slowly fades away sometimes. But with the animated videos, you’re not so burden by the script and the production stuff. You can make it happen much more easily, right now at the moment,” say Michaela Čopíková and Veronika Obertová about the perks of making music videos.
The other helpful advantage is the specific way of distribution. Music videos can live very interesting viral lives. Musicians have their own interest to promote them and sometimes they can bring a totally new audience to the animator’s other work as well. “It was a very nice ‘after-effect’ that happened after the premiere of the video for Jana Kirschner. She is quite popular in Slovakia, so it was for the first time ever when our friends, who don’t know anything about animation, finally realized what are we actually doing all those days and nights,” remembers with laughter Čopíková. “Also, the connection between virally popular music videos and getting some other commissioned work later is pretty clear sometimes. Potential clients get to know our work through the popular videos. It worked like that for example with our 2011 video Free to Be Me for a popular folk singer Haroula Rose. I don’t think that so many people all around the world will ever see some of our short film“ adds Obertová.
Haroula Rose: Free to Be Me http://vimeo.com/22475613
These days, a lot of independent animators have to struggle for many years to fundraise, produce, animate and then distribute their own short films. So maybe (thanks to the new technologies, social media and the viral space) music videos could be quite helpful. They might offer an opportunity to try new creative things, meet a so far untouched audience and learn a lot on the way. From this perspective, I believe now, that music videos could really serve as useful matches for some big creative fire – fire, which will surely lighten up the next author’s animated short, like in the case of Ove Pictures.
Ove Pictures: Dust and Glitter http://ovepictures.com/dustandglitter/
Eliska Decka is a first year Ph.D. student at Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague. With her academic past including MA from a Film Studies Department, Faculty of Arts, and MA from a Law Faculty, Charles University in Prague, she focuses with her research and publication activities on the connection between animation theory and practice, with especial interest in gender issues and the social influences on animation and vice versa. She teaches film theory and history at J. A. Komensky University in Prague, publishes in various Czech and international cultural journals and compendiums and collaborates as a dramaturgist with a Czech Festival of Film Animation Olomouc.