Natalia Guzeeva: Animation lesson should be compulsory
just like Physical Education lesson
If it was up to me I would introduce animation lesson in every school at least for six months or a year just like a compulsory Physical Education lesson. Sport develops body, animation creates an individual. What does a child face while creating a one-minute film? A child faces creation of a whole world where a story takes place, analysis of its world and story. Isn’t it a Literature lesson? A child devises characters, their appearance, motivation, moods. It is, in its own, a Psychology lesson. A child CONTEMPLATES, reflects! A child is telling about himself/herself. How to express happiness, sadness? A child should visualize his/her thoughts-meanings for himself/herself and spectators. He/she is calling for us, he/she wants to be understood. A child shows not “what” he/she is thinking but “how” he/she does it. It is very valuable. A child does not know how to draw? There are playdough, threads, fabrics and buttons. Therefore, this is a Fine Arts or Labor lesson. A child should make voice-over, put music, song, make it into theme and rhythm. Musiclessons? Yes. He or she should make a movie? Exposure to technology. Does it take long to make a film? It builds a character, diligence, skills to accomplish something that he/she has started. Animation is a self-reflection, empathy, creativity, will and this cocktail makes a child into a Person who will definitely not destroy the world, if not save it.
1. What is the most important thing in a cartoon: storyline or picture?
Let’s think. There are 36 narrative collisions according to the dramatic historian Georges Polti. There are a countless number of worlds that can create a visual image - especially animation. A storyline created by us is developing in the created world. Visual images, so called "pictures" - sets, costumes, household items, appearance of characters should carry the information, meaning they should tell us the details of the storyline. That's an interrelation.
I believe that the idea developed in the storyline is considered to be important being expressed in an image in order to create a viable symbiosis so that one cannot exist without the other.
2. What should necessarily be in a cartoon?
Character’s temper is very important. It can be fantasied, but should cause a response in us, the real audience. Music and songs are very important. I would even say, inserted song and dance performances and replica. It was once thought that the smaller the text, the better. Nowadays, there are a huge number of cartoons, built on dialogue. To write them is a great art.
3. How long does it take to write one script?
Most of my energy was expended into my first script “Kapitoshka”. And least of all my energy was expended into “How Petya Pyatochkin was counting elephants”, “Love and Death of the ordinary potato”, “What's this?”. I'm talking about the films that were completed. But in my desktop computer I have much more scripts that are not finished, not refined! I either did not have enough power, or a story came to deadlock, and so did I. Or I was distracted by something urgent, and after that I couldn’t catch a wave. Sometimes the path from idea to its implementation is measured by years.
Another thing, when a writer is hired, he is working as a team, and a goal and deadlines are set before him. This way you cannot get away with all sorts of excuses for example "caught / did not catch a wave" - you have obligations.
4. You are writing fairy tales and musicals for children. Does it help you while working on scripts?
It helps and hinders, destroys and creates. In the past, pre-script life, I was writing fairy tales with verbose beautiful descriptions, contemplations, comparisons ... It is easy to hide imperfections of dramaturgy and crudity of the characters’ tempers behind all these literary delights. When I got into the scriptwriting, I learned to get rid of the verbosity, to concentrate on the action. Literary work, the cornerstone of which is still a word, style of presentation, does interfere with my scriptwriting. Scriptwriting unnecessarily “dries” my literary texts. These are my two creative "Selves" - literary and script. They are often in conflict, but by solving the conflict, they produce a "third self". My texts depend on it.
5. Working on a new storyline or a script, do you think about how it will be apprehended by children?
Oh yeah! I try to imagine myself as a child, I myself giggle and jump on one leg, cry and get angry, and mutter aloud dialogues for a hundred of times. I close my eyes, falling into a rhythmic trance. I try to hear myself from the opposite corner of the room, as if out of the audience hall. I am very afraid that it will be boring, although I like to be bored from time to time myself. I feel like a clown in the arena which can be sad or funny, any, but the main thing is that the audience in the circus does not lose interest in my story. And if you think that I'm making this up, I should disappoint you. Scriptwriter is an actor, who is serving sentence in his/her own body.
6. What do you tell children during the master class, meet the artist events?
I tell mainly about the fact that work is not only unsteady inspiration. Creativity is a will. Without self-discipline, commitment, without overcoming routine, creative ideas will remain ideas only in the head. These qualities should be developed, they will be useful in any activity. I also tell them about the work of a scriptwriter, mostly about its disadvantages. I dispel the illusion. Scriptwriter should not love to write but rewrite: for a producer, editor, director and actor. Scriptwriter in the film is the beginning of all beginnings. But he is independent only in the creation of his plan. His plan should be causing that a certain group of talented people is willing to devote years of their lives to him. Besides, the writer’s ambitions should not interfere with the director and the actors in bringing their own meanings.
7. You are a member of the jury of the International Children's Television Festival “Dytiatko”. What do you think about cartoons that are made by children? What is special about them and what they may lack?
I sometimes lack phases in the competition films - their quantity creates the impression of characters’ movement, it brings them to life. After all “revival” is the animation itself.
But in general, I am delighted with the films that I, as a member of the jury was able to watch. There are so much purity, sincerity in them! Love that is impossible not to feel! Touching of children's hands. I like films that are based on the ethnographic material. In these films children tell legends or history of their country. I like that in their short films children are trying to comprehend themselves, problems of the world, human relations. It compensates for the professional disadvantages. I would say that disadvantages become advantages.
Often it is not so easy to choose a winner, because a few films set the pace at the finish line. And what a fear it is to not see a talent. And what a joy when it is spotted and supported. And what a pride that the film finalist of the Festival "The Island" by Mykyta Tymoshchuk went to Cannes! And what a confidence that the festival "Dytiatko" has a great future.