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Interview with 'The Cat' Director/Animator - Magdolin Turner

How did you first break into the industry?

I'm actually not really in the industry, more of a really, really hidden freelancer. This was my first project that I got a chance to work with a company and I kind of stumbled into it. One of my favorite professors from the University of Akron, Tony Samangy (he did the other chunk of animation in "The Cat" as well as building and furnishing the set and all the crazy detailed props, Graphic Design background, go figure), got me in touch with Red Point Digital and we both worked closely with them to try and develop a VR and stop motion animation studio. As a little trial run they sent Jess's script to us to read and see if we could shoot it. Which, with few ideas and the script being only 4 pages we were more than happy to film it to show what we can do. So not quite an industry break, but a fantastic test run that turned into a lot more than I think any of us expected. 

Who/What inspires you as an Animator/Director?

There's a loaded question! There are so many absolutely wonderful animators I constantly watch, too many to really name them all. But the main three for me are Berry Purves, Jiri Trnka, and Will Vinton. Berry Purves ("Achilles", "Next") for his theater conscious designs and the sheer amount of magical trickery he does so well. Jiri Trnka ("The Hand", "Midsummer Night's Dream", "Old Czech Legends") for his illustrations and animations being in their own world and way of communication. And Will Vinton ("Rip Van Winkle", "Adventures of Mark Twain") for being the very first animation love I had, showing just how far you can push a medium.  Aside from that I am madly in love with traditional puppet theater and I'm always swooning over productions around the world. It's just incredible to see the history and sheer variety of puppets people have made and shown. I'm glad that I can share a small corner in that world.

What was your best set moment on ‘The Cat’?

Oof! Well, a lot of times it was just me in a room losing my mind listening to Grace Jones "La Vie En Rose" cackling to myself over a scene playback that matched the song, or Tony and I cracking jokes about just how many cat themed books there are (if you check the book shelf, yeah, all of those are cat books). There was one morning I came in and the ceiling had fallen. I sat there looking at the giant mess and the lamp just swinging there for a second. Thankfully nothing and no one was harmed, but that was really lame to then move EVERYTHING and set it back up PERFECTLY in our new location. Which in all honesty, was a better spot to shoot in. Less likely to trip over lights. The other time that comes to mind was one of the very last scenes Tony and I shot. It was the final sequence with our main character and the werecat puppet. I made all the puppets, and we had a VERY short amount of time to work on them at that time. so the werecat was just too heavy to stand on the one set of feet I had time to make. So no feet. No rig strong enough either. I had to hold that damn thing for HOURS for about 5 takes on that scene with Tony taking the images and moving the other character as my arms lost feeling. It may not sound like it, but it really is my favorite part about animating, the problem solving. Even if the solution drives me insane. 

What sort of person is going to love this short?

Not sure really. I was caught off guard at the response it had. It's just a fun little short with vibrant colors, odd characters, and a fun little twist. I think cat owners would get a kick out of it. I hear that the spray bottle is a lot of people's favorite part. I'm sure that's because they also have jerk cats in their lives. Love em, but.. mmboy. 

What advice would you give aspiring animators?

Well, it ain't easy. You have to love it.. like really really love it. But i think the best advice I can give from what I have learned so far is that you have to pick your battles. And the battles you pick, you have to plan. I'm a big fan of shooting from the hip, but with something this involved you need to have a solid plan. Yeah, the plan will go astray and you'll have to roll with the punches, but animation needs to be intentional to be effective. It's just so much work and time to put into something. Make it count. And above all take time to enjoy this kind of play time. That's when it shines best. Fun and purpose. 

Where can we find more of your work?

I have my instagram: maggietheodd

I've been working on comic pages, illustrations, and puppets there and occasionally I manage to finish an animation. Time, where does it go..

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