In this ongoing series, we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today — the artists who, through short films and other projects, change our ideas of what the medium can do.
This week’s subject is L.A.-based animator, director, computer graphics artist, and teacher Christopher Rutledge, whose dazzling cg works (often made with Dan Streit and Cole Kush) combine innovative mixed-media elements with surreal and cartoony characters and scenarios.
In a sentence: Rutledge’s works are trippy cg wonders that take viewers on a sensory ride they never knew they wanted or needed.
Where to start: “Caution” (co-directed by Cole Kush, 2022). A freaky, creepy, and mind-blowing music video for Cuco that utilizes cg animation and motion capture to take the musician on the ride of his life. Behind all the visual madness is a tale about someone realizing that they sometimes need to slow down and reset themselves in a world raging along at hyper-speed.
What to watch next: The Loaf Zone (2018). Dead birds, inept bank robbers, idiotic office workers, abrasive shoppers, bickering lovers, philosophical oddballs, and a severely anxious guy with a heavy crush all inhabit the bizarre city of Loaf Town. Rutledge’s gooey, stretchy cg design elevates it all to a whole new level of absurdity.
Other key works: Music video for TNGHT’s “Gimme Summn” (directed by Cole Kush), Adult Swim commission “Sensitive Hearing” (2019), The Cosmophones (directed by Dan Streit, 2022), I Don’t Care About My Parents (2022)
Influences: Newgrounds.com, David OReilly, Sander Joon
Says: “I would say the style that I’ve found that appeals to me the most, and that I’m most interested in exploring, is stylized characters and worlds… with realistic rendering and animation and simulation and things like that, so that [it] is kind of cartoony looking in terms of the design, but realistic in terms of the material and it feels tactile, and it feels like it could be a real thing.”
Currently working on: “A huge project for the past six months or so with a bunch of other people including Cole Kush, who I’ve been working with a lot. It’s a tv pilot that will definitely come out sooner than later.”
Pictured at top: “Caution” music video