Cartoon Brew TV is back from the holidays and we’re ready for action–19th century style! This week’s offering, Love on the Line (2008) by G. Melissa Graziano, offers the tale of a pair of star-crossed lovers who yearn to communicate with one another in a time before texting, IMing and the Internet. A combination of stop-motion cutouts and 2D computer animation, the short was made at the UCLA Animation Workshop, where it won the Dan McLaughlin Award at the 2008 Animation Prom, the school’s year-end animation screening It has also won the Best Visual Storytelling Award at the ASIFA Student Film Festival and has also been shown at the Bradford Animation Festival (BAF), NextGen Film Fest, and Dam Shorts Film Festival.
The director, Melissa Graziano, will be participating in the Brew comments if you have any questions for her. Here are a few thoughts from her about the making of the film:
My background is mainly in writing and art, but I’ve done a little bit of everything. Growing up, I could never decide which form of art I liked best. I played violin, wrote poems, plays and short stories, took tons of photographs, made videos, drew incessantly, even dabbled in experimental sculpture…but I could never decide on which medium to settle on. When I discovered that animation was the only art with the potential to include every other kind of art, that did it for me. I was no longer forced to choose between my loves; I could use them all to make a single work. I think that’s partially why I like to combine different animated media in my films, too. I can combine different elements to create something that couldn’t have been accomplished by its separate components. And, more importantly, it makes the story stronger.
The first night Love on the Line played in front of an audience, I was nervous as hell. I’ve been performing in front of people since I was six, and I’ve rarely been nervous. I was afraid that nobody would laugh; it seemed like every time I presented my storyboards and animatics in class, I would hear crickets. My teachers and fellow students would tell me it was funny, that they just needed to see it timed out to get the full effect. Once I started animating and watched the finished sequences, I started laughing–and the people I’d drag in to see my dailies started laughing, too. I felt much more confident about it.
The film had such an overwhelmingly positive response at Prom (UCLA’s end-of-the-year screening for Animation), I could hardly believe it. Even my most conservative relatives were cracking up (maybe that’s why I was nervous, all that Catholic guilt). Every time I watch it with a different audience and they laugh in all the right places…it’s the best feeling in the world. I know I’ve done my job right. It gives me confidence as a filmmaker, to know I’m capable of doing what I set out to do: to have the audience react a certain way, to feel what I wanted them to feel, and feel it strongly. That’s very important to me as an artist and as a storyteller.
I’m currently working on my thesis film, When Walls Could Talk, which will be a hybrid of different animation techniques and live-action puppetry. I want to go into storyboarding after graduation, eventually working my way to director for animated features.