If you’ve visited or browsed this site any time recently, you’ve probably noticed that posting ended abruptly in the second week of March. Three years of almost-daily writing came to a swift and unexplained end; staying that way until now. The absence was self-imposed and total. I haven’t written or read about anything related to animation since March; an eternity in more ways than one.
In many ways it was sobering, but in plenty of other ways it was enlightening. What motivated me to call it quits was not some catastrophic event or personal failure, but rather an epiphany of sorts. Namely that the wild success of a mediocre feature film like Frozen suggests that audiences really don’t care. They just don’t; they’re suckers for whatever can be engineered specifically for them and that pushes animation as a concept into second place behind mere entertainment.
The glory days when each Pixar film heralded an advancement of sorts in animation as an artform are long over. The movie business is hardly the creative force it once was; independents are still creating and innovating, but as far as the major studios go, it’s all about pulling on levers until the audience comes in the door. Frozen proved that beyond all doubt; I strongly suspect that Big Hero 6 will be simply the union part of a Venn diagram containing Disney and Marvel. For that matter, Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea will be a wonderful feature that will be every bit the commercial failure its predecessor was because again, consumers don’t care.
Call me pessimistic if you will, but realising that this is where animation as an industry and artform finds itself in 2014 really did me in. How could I continue writing about, and being actively involved in something that seems intent on eating itself? It probably didn’t help that being cursed with the memory that I have (not trying to brag, just stating a fact pointed out to me on regular occasions), I started to see patterns and stories/news/events repeating themselves.
Unfortunately once that starts to happen with anything in my life, I tend to get instantly bored with whatever it is that I notice the patterns in. From then on, my interest is more superficial than active. I like cars, but once I saw the same kinds of articles in the magazine that I knew I read before; I checked out, and now only skim them when I’m in the book store.
So when I found myself contemplating animation as an interest that was turning into something like that; I had to stop and consider it. Which is what I have been doing since March. I really do love animation, in that deep-seated, irrational way that I can’t explain to anyone. I like it just because; I don’t know why, I just do, but when I stopped finding it fulfilling, that passion died, or rather, hid itself.
The last few months have also caused me to consider my future in animation. I love to write about it, sure. But that isn’t a paying job for me at the moment, and I don’t foresee it becoming one either. The book I’ve started writing about The Incredibles is a fun project; I’m writing it because I want to. I have to find a position that is related to animation and also puts food on my table.
I want to work in the industry, I want to create memorable, innovative and artistically astounding art; or rather to facilitate it. I’m no artist, and I know that. So I have to find another way; one that can exploit what I do know and what I am capable of. The lack of a clear path in that regard also contributed to me giving up on animation. After all, if you cannot see a way in, why bother at all?
That kind of thinking caused a certain degree of, shall we say, anguish. Ultimately, I realised that my future does lie in animation in some way shape or form. That’s the part I’m trying to figure out now. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.