Searchlight: Eric Power
It may have been the ghostly shadow puppet-style video for Jeremy Messersmith’s ‘A Boy, A Girl and a Graveyard’ that initially caught our attention, but it was when we found the stop-motion Mortal Kombat ‘Paperalities’ tribute that we realised it was love. Meet filmmaker Eric Power!
Paper features fairly strongly in a lot of your work – why do you enjoy working with it so much?
Working with paper can be extremely relaxing. The cutting out period is something you can do while casually watching a film. Of course, don’t expect to be able to actually watch the film since your eyes will be on the paper the majority of the time. I see it almost like listening to a radio drama with a touch of visual accompaniment.
There is also a lot to be said about the visual aesthetic of paper animation. I feel the rules of animation change from medium to medium and the way characters move and express emotion changes along with it. I love experimenting with paper. This year in particular, I was going for a minimal approach to some of my paper work. Perhaps next year I will do the polar opposite. There’s just so much that can be achieved with paper animation, it is hard not to fall in love with it.
Games feature quite frequently in your work – for example the Mortal Kombat ‘Fatalities’, or, err, Paperalities, montage – why do you enjoy making these game homages?
I’ve been a gamer most of my life, hell, apparently while still in the womb my mom got the sudden urge to play Atari games. Maybe it was fate. It was only recently a light bulb went off in my head and I decided to put the two things I love together, hence my side project ericpowerup where I create all my gaming and film related work. Also, it was just way too much fun interpreting the fatalities in paper!
The Jeremy Messersmith ‘A Boy, A Girl and a Graveyard’ video is lovely – what inspired the werewolfy ideas?
I was working on Jeremy’s video during the Halloween season, so a lot of spooky imagery was already floating around in my head. I was originally going to make the characters human, but decided to change it up since I actually prefer animating animals and creatures. A big part of the decision was also inspired by fairy tales. I wanted to evoke some of that feel so it was probably a mixture of the Halloween season, a touch of little red riding hood, and my love for animals.
Also the aesthetic has a kind of shadow puppet feel to it – was that something you were aiming for? What were you hoping to achieve?
Yes I was definitely aiming for that aesthetic. I had been dying to do a shadow animation ever since I saw my friend’s band Many Birthdays perform a live score to Lotte Reiniger’s ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ (the first feature length shadow animation). I wanted to try the style out for myself, since it looked like a lot of fun. I was hoping to create a shadow animation that, if Reiniger were still around, she’d approve of it. Shadow animation also helped me achieve my yearly goal of working with paper in the most minimal way possible. Working with silhouettes is about as minimal as you can get.
Other than A Girl, A Boy and a Graveyard, which piece of work are you proudest of and why?
That would have to be my very first completed animation, a claymation video called ‘Clayman’s Last Supper’. Looking back on it, the animation is poor, the sound is low quality, and it screams low budget. That doesn’t matter though. It was the first time I realized the power of animation, how you can take a block of clay and create a character with emotion and depth that feels very much alive. Even now I sometimes think ‘What would Clayman do in a situation like this?’. I feel finishing what you start is one of the most important things you can do and seeing my completed animation was a big confidence builder.