13 November, 2009
BAF 09 Day 3: Claire Jennings and Brian Van’t Hul
Halfway through BAF 09 and the atmosphere at the Museum is inspiring, as industry professionals rub shoulders with budding animators - many of whom attended our Speed Date the Animators event, giving them a rare opportunity to present their work and gain invaluable advice from industry insiders.
But before all that, we had the pleasure of showing Coraline in 3D to a packed out Pictureville cinema attended by BAF pass holders, Museum visitors and staff, including Director Colin Philpott.
Shortly before the film, I headed upstairs to watch a photo-shoot with three of the Coraline puppets, and two of our very special guests - Claire Jennings (Coraline Producer and Laika Inc’s President of Entertainment) and Brian Van’t Hul (Laika Inc’s Visual Effects Supervisor), while this year’s jury waited patiently outside to discuss the official selections.
On Saturday, Brian will be presenting an overview of the visual effects challenges of shooting Coraline, which is the first major stop-motion animated feature to be shot in stereoscopic 3D.
Earlier, Claire sat in conversation with Professor Paul Wells from the Animation Academy at Loughborough University, to discuss her career history and the making of Coraline.
Claire “fell into animation having worked in the music industry... [She] fell in love with it”, and considers her proficiency as a producer lies in bringing together the diverse skills of organisation, creativity and communication.
When asked if she thinks finding money is the hardest part of getting a film into production, Claire stressed that “money is obviously incredibly important, but you can kick start projects if you have a lot of passion.”
Claire spoke briefly about her experiences working on the popular animated series, Pingu, where she was invited to try and adapt the character for American audiences. However, “the essence of Pingu is what makes it successful...to water it down doesn’t always work. I think I’m best at maintaining that essence.”
Claire told us that she used to believe she’d become a successful producer when everything ran smoothly from beginning to end, but now realises that “it’s just about managing chaos.”
Of the current climate within the world of animation, Claire said that although budgets have decreased, and studios are having to employ clever marketing techniques to sell a film, big awards in America are starting to take notice of different looking films and there is now a maturity to the way animated films are being made - our opening night film Mary and Max is a terrific example.
Claire’s advice for potential producers is that they should be determined and have real belief in what they are trying to make, no matter whether it’s a small budget indie feature, or a major Hollywood player, because it is that belief in projects which eventually gets them off the ground. “At the end of the day, you want to look back over the years and think you’ve spent your time well.”