The Dam Keeper, currently shortlisted for an animated short Oscar and nominated yesterday for an Annie Award, is the first independent film directed by feature film art directors Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi. Already the recipient of dozens of awards on the festival circuit, the film achieved a unique look by combining drawn animation with the impressionist painting styles of its directors.
Both Kondo and Tsutsumi left their art direction roles at Pixar last July to launch Tonko House. Their new Bay Area studio is developing long-format narrative content including an animated feature and TV series.
In this interview conducted with them last June at the Annecy animation festival in France, they discuss the challenges of moving from artistic roles into the director’s seat, and the importance of learning to work with one another in that new role. The interview was conducted with Google Glass.