Skhizein Skhizein

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 the French animator, Jérémy Clapin.

In a sentence: Before his widely-acclaimed feature I Lost My Body, Clapin made a number of sensitive and thought-provoking off-beat short works dealing with identity, mental health, childhood, and body parts.

Where to start: Skhizein (2008). The film that catapulted Clapin onto the indie animation landscape. During a visit with his shrink, a man claims that his life has been 91 cm off since a meteor hit nearby. Mixing 2d and 3d elements, Clapin crafts a funny, compassionate, and touching story that is part sci-fi, part exploration inside a disrupted mind.

What to watch next: Palmipédarium (2012). A gentle, surreal, and masterly study of pubescence and the inevitable demise of innocence.

Other key works:  Backbone Tale (2004), Innocent (2015), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in 1 minute (2017)

Influences:  When The Day Breaks (Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis). I was shocked when I saw it for the first time. You feel connected and inside this animated world. Chris Landreth’s, Ryan (cg got a bit old but it is a masterpiece) and David Russo’s I am not van Gogh; both tell a lot about creation. More recently Tomek Popakul’s  Acid Rain, that uses a cg mocap in a spontaneous way revealing the power of his cinematic way to tell a story.”

Says: “Working in animation was never a dream for me. My goal was just to avoid having a normal job. I never wanted to have one single job for life. I used to work in many disciplines – graphic design, illustration, even a tennis teacher – but animation offered me the freedom I needed. I mean, you can create something on your own and bring people into it without any product to sell or message to deliver. I never thought I’d be paid for it. So I started to write my first film Backbone Tale and I was lucky to have some funding to do it. And now I fight and try to make my job as unprofessional as possible, just to keep this feeling of freedom.”

Currently working on: “I am currently finishing my next feature film called Meanwhile on Earth. It is my first film in live-action (with some animation inside). A story very freely adapted from the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice.”

Pictured at top: Skhizein

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Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson is a writer and Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). Robinson has authored thirteen books including Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation (2006), Ballad of a Thin Man: In Search of Ryan Larkin (2008), and Japanese Animation: Time Out of Mind (2010). He also wrote the screenplay for the award-winning animation short, Lipsett Diaries.

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