Animation films for everyone

Flagged hosted Anima, the Brussels Animation Film Festival, from 24 February to 5 March. It has been a great success according to the staff, and thousands of people came to attend conferences, to talk with film-makers and to watch animation films.

Brussels Express had the opportunity to interview  Jericca Cleland. After developing her skills at Pixar on such films as Finding Nemo, and working in Canada, Jericca is now with Nørlum studios in Denmark. As well as writing, directing and creative supervision on productions, she also worked on the cinematography features for Arthur Christmas and Ballerina and is at ease in any media from TV and film, 2D and 3D animation, shorts of features and live action. Jericca co-directed the CG animated feature film ‘Ratchet & Clank’, based on the well-loved Sony Playstation game franchise, and has written and directed several shorts and an animated tv miniseries.

The movie ‘Ballerina’ was screened during the Anima Festival 2017.


Why have you chosen to work in animation?

I love live action, it is very interesting. Everything works together, it’s dynamic, and you can have strong relationships with the actors and all the people involved. But the thing I love with animation is the ability to tell stories that are outside of our real world. And I really believe that animation allows us to connect to the audience emotionally in a very different way than live action does. And of course, we can tell stories you can never share in live action, in real life. And that is the point of animation.

I always try to connect the audience, and to make it see the things differently. As a story-maker, you have to find a chore message and to connect the people to that. We can promote change and open new perspectives, and this is a real important thing.

Which public is targeted in animation?

I think two things. First, it is important to make films that touch ourselves as filmmakers. And then, we are trying to appeal a group, maybe a specific group and the film will be built for this one.

But it is also important to realise that all the people and all the audiences can be inspired by our work. Animation, in North-America more than in Europe, is viewed as a medium for children. But animation can be used for any audience, everyone can be attracted by animation. Right now, it is an issue for film-makers to show that animation can be for all ages. Anomalisa, for instance, is clearly not for children and it could not have been made in other ways. I hope to see more audiences experiment and go see more animation.

That is what is fantastic in Brussels. During this festival, 40,000 people from all ages have come here, to watch short-films, commercial films etc. I think it is incredible and it proves that the audience has an appetize for variety.

What does Brussels mean to you in terms of animation?

I did not know Brussels was such an animation focused place before coming here. I was very surprised and impressed. Usually, when I attend a festival, it is more about festival of film-makers for film-makers and fans. But what I see at Anima is the general public is here. It is incredible to see such a place showcasing these sorts of programmes have so many attendees. It is a great thing that people pay attention to animation. I hope to see that in other places, so that we can distribute more animation across the World.

Could you share your views regarding the evolution of animation movies?

I started my career when computer animation was just emerging, in the middle of the 1990’s after Toy Story. At the beginning, people were hesitant and maybe thinking “What is that? I have never seen that before”. It was then not even recognised as a real-medium, nobody understood it. There were two films, then three, four, five and today we have dozens of computer animated movies.

Now computer animation became the most accepted commercial medium in animation, and traditional animated films were almost dying 10 years ago. This is a shame, as these films inspired us in computer animation, especially the hand-drawn animated films. And it is great to see that so many beautiful films, mostly made in Europe and in Asia, have had a great success over the past years, such as Song of the Sea and Long Way North. The public appreciates all sorts of animation, and everyone has a place. And we should push for such an evolution, there should be no boundary in animation, as animation can tell all kinds of stories for all ages.