I usually associate word “workshop” with planing-machines, saws, chisels, lathes, floor full of shavings and lots of loud practical action. When someone presses the term “animation workshop” on me, I imagine 100 light boxes lined up, 1365 pencils, 20 scanners, 50 computers and lots of quiet focus. I had never attended an animated workshop so I was free to imagine whatever I wanted.
But then Felix Goennert invited me to do a workshop at animation department of
The Konrad Wolf Potsdam-Babelsberg Film and Television University (HFF).
– What do I bring?- I asked, horrified that he might request to bring my actual animation tools which would take all the space in the bag and leave no place for clean underwear. Stinking workshop instructor might put students off animation for good.
– Oh, whatever you feel like, – Felix was easy-going. – Maybe a DVD of a film you want to show.
Good. I have 14 short films, I can pick and choose. It was clear Felix didn’t want me to bring my animation tools, which left me wondering:
– What do you expect me to do?
– Whatever you like. You’ll have time from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
What?! I am supposed to fill 7 hours with “whatever I want”!?
– Will we have a lunch break? – I asked with trepidation.
– Oh, sure.
That leaves 6 hours to fill. I could “show and tell” for about 2-3 hours but it gets old for young students too quickly. I wish I smoked so I could ask for a cigarette break.
I had other things to attend and decided to rely on the Last Moment Inspiration to decide how to fill the remaining 2-3 hours.
The night before the workshop I was writing up my experience with Battle of Sexes in Warsaw. Flipping through 364 pictures of the event I realized I looked like an animated character. Take a look:
Notice, Bill Plympton looks perfectly human, while I resemble a small animal at a pet store about to eat dry pellets expelled by a larger animal.
God. I used to be pretty but this is what 20 years in animation would do to you – it enlarges your feet, it extends your nose and grows your arms longer. The pretty dress just accents the grotesque:
Look at the nose:
That is when it hit me. I knew what I was going to do at the workshop. I will present my films and my animation operation for 2-3 hours and then I’ll ask the students to draw 2 drawings – 1) my portrait 2) me as an animated character.
I did talk for 4 hours, on making animated films, on dangers of marriage, on financing the films and sex as an unsellable subject. The students had plenty of time to observe me. They were given 40 minutes to make the drawings and come up with the stories. When the students returned to the classroom, they presented their work. Very talented bunch. At the end of the presentation I suggested they could sign the drawings and give them to me. Some of them did. I didn’t have the names, but you can see the signatures. I am sure in few years they all will be famous animators and you’ll be jealous I met them still as students.
Here’s 2 drawings of one student. First, my portrait:
He made me too glamorous. Maybe he was afraid of the wrath of my injured vanity? He was worried in vain – there is no vanity left after seeing myself in the mirror.
Here’s his idea of me as an animated character:
Another student’s portrait of me:
The character is a fox who steals human babies to teach them to be nice to foxes and nature before she returns them back to humans. A very stylized concept of what happens when an independent animator is allowed to teach. A perfect summary of my teaching purposes. Here’s the fox in front of the audience:
The talking seemed to be in the most of the drawings. Obviously, the students haven’t seen me quietly work at my table for days without uttering a sound. Maybe I should install a spy internet camera above my work desk so that people can see how untalkative animator’s job really is?
Here’s a drawing of another student, me as a character and portrait in one:
Another student depicted me as a gramophone that had a free will to talk independently from the record:
I liked it. It was kind to me without adding too much glamor.
She also did more realistic character drawing:
Note the finger pointing. If there is one thing I learned from this workshop experience it is that I should watch my fingers and keep my mouth shut. I also learned that Potsdam HFF animation department has some very talented and ambitious students. They will go to good places.
Now, to follow the unbeatable Warsaw phallic building pictures I feel should post the pictures of The Konrad Wolf Potsdam-Babelsberg Film and Television University (HFF)
building. Nothing phallic here, except that is is on Marlene-Dietrich street. It looks oddly familiar for a person who just went through 4 airports and 3 train stations: