Coffee Talk is a monthly informal chat between Washington Filmworks staff and local film industry professionals and arts organizations to better understand what it is they do, how our work and missions intersect, and what we can do to support like-minded projects moving forward.
Blending our world with a surreal gust of animated imagination, Drew Christie is a filmmaking artist carving out a very interesting path. He’s the creator behind several distinct and compelling animated shorts for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and other publications, and the recent Genius Award-winner for Film.
Washington born and raised, Christie originally studied live-action filmmaking at Seattle Film Institute before eventually merging it with animation.
“I wanted to combine my love of visual art with filmmaking – that way, I could do everything myself on projects,” explains Christie. His work consists of TV commercials (“my most constant work,” he adds), online animated series with Vanity Fair, Editorial Work for the New York Times, work for non-profits (like Seattle’s MOHAI), and passion projects (such as a short for Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s upcoming Criterion release of My Winnipeg). Christie’s workload is obviously eclectic and unique, and each project is a source of edification and enlightenment.
“I’m always interested in learning new information,” Christie explains, “and presenting it to everyone else in an intriguing way. I start out by processing and synthesizing the information in a way that helps me grow, and then I share that information with everyone else.” Most of his inspiration comes from listening to music and reading non-fiction, as he tries to visualize the material, stories, and facts into an entertaining and stimulating piece of animation. Additionally, Christie uses a myriad of technologies and software to create these shorts.
“Some projects, I’ve hand-drawn the old-fashioned way via a tablet, then produced the rest in the computer. Others I’ve used my pen animation and then scanned it onto a computer, then photo-shopped it as puppets – I edited in after-effects and created puppetry animation.” Whatever method Christie employs to make his animations, you cannot deny how innovative and beguiling they are – take for instance Song of the Spindle, a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Christie finds a lot of fulfillment in his work (which he does full time), but he does wish there was a larger animation community in Seattle.
“It would be great if there were more animators I could work with here – there needs to be a growing community, and I think Seattle’s lacking it due to not enough schools specifically teaching it.”
But what Christie does have is significant advice for not only young animators but filmmakers, too.
“Projects always start with writing – being able to write is key, you must know how to write. Also, you have to keep working and be consistent. Resting on your laurels just diminishes your confidence.”
Looking ahead, Christie has several projects cooking – three different animated series and a possible feature. But what really intrigues Christie is multi-platform storytelling, a daring and fascinating concept that the Filmworks Innovation Lab promotes and fosters.
“I’m very interested in multi-platform storytelling, especially because I also have a background in live-action filmmaking,” remarks Christie. “I”m not moving forward with it for now due to other projects, but I want to set some time aside to think about those possibilities – there is a lot of potential and future in the concept because of the whole digital move towards interactivity.”
We can’t think of a better artist to help forge the path. We thank Christie for his time, advice, and insight, and stay tuned for our next Coffee Talk in early 2015!