“Clam Bake”: Award Winning Indie Filmmaker Creates Whimsical Animation App

Portland, OR–Acclaimed indie filmmaker Joanna Priestley has released Clam Bake, an interactive iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod that features her iconic style of animation. Priestley has directed, produced and animated 24 award winning films and has been called the “Queen of Independent Animation” by Bill Plympton.

Priestley, based in Portland, Oregon, spent six months creating sixty sequences of animation for Clam Bake, an entertainment app. About the process, she says “I loved coming into the studio each day and creating a totally new animated sequence. It was exhilarating to be free of the narrative structure of filmmaking. This was my first experience with interactive animation and I let my imagination go berserk, but I was always conscious of building Clam Bake into a cohesive experience through design, style, color and shape.”

Clam Bake was inspired by a wonderful painting workshop that I took from (Portland painter) Flora Bowley. It was about letting your preconceptions, goals and expectations fall away and simply immersing yourself in the joyful experience of exploring with paint. It was also focused on using as much rich color as possible. The vivid colors in Clam Bake are completely different from the limited palettes I use in my films.” The app begins with clicking on a clam shell, which opens to reveal an animated treasure with a little soundtrack. Once the participant has clicked or pulled on all the shapes and interior elements in the composition, a lovely animated sequence plays out for the participant.

Work onClam Bake began when Priestley hired Portland State University student Jed Bursiak as a summer intern. His programming skills made it possible for Priestley to explore interactive animation and together they created a mobile device application. Priestley found the complex process of getting her Flash app into the Apple App Store to be daunting: “It was a big challenge to decipher their über-geeky vocabulary and navigate their dense technocracy. I was extremely grateful that Jed could figure it out.”

Composer Seth Norman, of Portland’s Dubstep band Triage, created a rich soundtrack for Clam Bake, which escalates as multiple elements come to life. Norman has created the soundtracks for three of Priestley’s films. About scoring for an app, Norman says: “I think of Clam Bake as the virtual equivalent of being like a child rummaging through another kid’s toy box. My focus as a sound designer was on creating small, attention-grabbing snippets of audio that give the user a feeling of surprise and discovery with each click as they dig further into the app. Creating the sound for Joanna Priestley’s unique interactive world was a great opportunity to explore a wide range of techniques, sources, and styles.”