Richard Williams Gets Deeper into Prologue

Richard Williams discusses his hand-drawn, six-minute short, Prologue, which just completed its  Oscar qualifying run. Its a brutal and balletic peek at the Spartan-Athenian wars through the eyes of a young girl.  It’s gory yet mesmerizing in its composition, movement, and cutting. And its a simple series of drawings. The 82-year-old Williams is now at work on an ambitious feature-length version.

Bill Desowitz: This idea goes back to your childhood. Let’s begin there.

Richard Williams: Since I was 15, I’ve been thinking about the area and if I would ever get good enough to do it. I figured 15 years ago, now’s the time. So I’ve made a self-contained film, which is quite different from what the [feature] will be. Not the style, in which I try to convey the horrible feeling of war as a kind of ballet in animation and then I went for realism. Then this little girl observes it and runs to her grandmother. And it ends on a compassionate disgust on the part of women. It never ends, so I wanted to do a self-contained package of war. But it’s grim. It came out more intense than I expected.

BD: But what a contrast between innocence and brutality.

RW: Well, I think it’s shocking to see such terrible violence in drawings and it’s not a cartoon. So I want to get a hypnotic quality in my work. I’ve been trying for years and now I can do it.

BD: Was there a moment when you had this artistic epiphany?

RW: Absolutely. It’s a weird thing and it happened about three years ago. The only analogy I can think of yogurt when it suddenly takes. I realized that after 60 years of experience that I’ve finally arrived at where I want to get: anything I can think of, I can put down. And people who’ve seen it tell me they can’t look away.

BD: How did you animate it after completing 6,000 drawings (mostly at 24 drawings a second for the action)?

RW: I’ve gone back to 1900 with one sheet of paper and a pencil. I shot it actually with Aardman’s camera and then it goes into their computer system to take away blurs and grade it and polish it. It’s like varnishing it. I have a workshop there. And there’s very little color: each man has different color eyes and there’s blood and the Spartan shields have a red symbol and the Athenian ones have a blue eagle. And the little girl has a light tan dress. Otherwise, there’s no color.

BD: And where are you in making the feature, which is self-financed?

RW: I’m about four minutes into it. Aardman has a camera set up in the middle of my room and it’s like a tent.

Read the rest at Animation Scoop/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Crafts, Movies, Oscar, Shorts, Tech, Trailers

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