What is your name and your current occupation?
Paul Driessen / Animator of short personal films.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was in the Dutch army (compulsory), counting its bolts, underwear and tanks / otherwise nothing much job-wise, trying to sell my cartoons with very little success.
How did you become interested in animation?
I drew cartoons since my childhood / When I grew up I didn’t know much about animation, for Holland, where I spent my school years didn’t have an animation tradition / I’d seen the odd Disney film but that was about it / In 1964, when I was 24, I read about an animation studio near Amsterdam; I got in touch with them and they liked my cartoon style and hired me to be an animator / shortly after they send me to the Annecy animation festival in France, where I was exposed to the still young ‘art of animation’, short personal films of all the international greats; quite an eye opener.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from Holland, but moved to Montreal, Canada in 1970 / In the 60’s, when I got to work at the animation studio in Hilversum, it was the very beginning of commercial TV in Holland; there were no structured ideas, so I was free to improvise, quite a luxury.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Being one of the animators on The Yellow Submarine in ’67, ’68 / Also working with Marv Newland on his Anijam and Pink Komkommer films.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Waking up, looking if it’s a nice day for the beach or nearby river to do some writing and storyboarding (this is in Southern France where I spend the summers); otherwise I stay home and animate my films in my small studio on the top floor of an old classic French country house / Or waking up, looking if there isn’t too much snow to be able to get to the National Film Board of Canada (this is Montreal where I spend the winters); if there is I stay home and animate my films at my studio, while listening to the cars in the street frantically trying to wiggle their way out of the mess.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Basically all of it : thinking of new ideas for my films; doing storyboards and designs; preparing lay outs; animating the whole lot (usually all by myself, sometimes with a fellow animator); directing the edit, sound.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Trying to convince sponsors that my new ideas are worth supporting / Most of my films are not easy to understand at the storyboard stage (how do you storyboard a multiscreen project?) so people would put them off for a while if they can help it.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
The old simple way of animating on paper / After that I’ll test my animation on the computer, of course, and also the final artwork is handled by computers, often different programs.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
That I’m bad at business / Fortunately I always find sympathetic producers who are good at it.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Ollie and Frank; Ray Harryhausen; George Dunning; Bob Godfrey; Normand Mc Laren; Fredric Back; Faith Hubley; Caroline Leaf; Tim Burton; John Lasseter; Joe Ranft; Mike and Spike; Marv Newland; Bill Plympton; George Griffin; John Canemaker; Stephen Hillenburg; Igor Kovalyov; Borge Ring; Lotte Reiniger; Alexandre Alexeiif; Bratislav Pojar; Jan Svankmayer; Michaela Pavlatova; Raoul Servais; Paul Grimault; Topor; Jan Lenica; Osamu Tesuka; Yoji Kuri; Jean François Laguionie; Bruno Bozetto; Michel Ocelot; Alexandre Petrov; the Quay brothers; Nick Park; Michael Dudo de Wit; Joanna Quinn and many more or less greatnesses of animation, depending what greatness means to whom.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
A couple of traffic accidents on my bicycle (one serious, hit by a drunken driver) / One divorce / Almost being fired from my tenure as a professor in animation at the university of Kassel, Germany, since they didn’t approve of my liberal style of teaching (they dropped it because of the successes of my students: 2 Oscars).
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I wrote, illustrated some small picture books (Fiddle Fumble stories; see my website) which I enjoyed doing very much / I also wrote a live action feature with some animation in it, which I think might be a lot of fun to see on screen (unfortunately, so far I’m the only one who thinks that).
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I’m good at fixing things with wire and rubber bands; simple but often very effective solutions to my needs. I can also wiggle my 2 stomach muscles independently; it’s a yoga exercise called Nauri Kriya. Children and young women are usually impressed by it, sometimes traumatized.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Don’t be shy to travel and find an environment which suits and appreciates your talent.