For anyone who hasnt caught on yet, once a month I interview fellow Flash artists/programmers in the scene. It's a fairly informal little Q&A session. I've been doing it for like a year now. I have just recently started posting 'em here as well. Enjoi!
Greetings, its the start of the month and that can only mean the launch of a fresh new interview. This month we feature Sean Montela, he goes by the alias AloneInTheDark on Newgrounds. As to not steal too much of his thunder, let me get the interview underway and let him fill you in on his details.
Luis: Hi Sean, how about you tell us who you are, how long have you been in the scene and how did you stumble upon Flash?
AloneInTheDark: I'm a 23 year old architecture student from Amsterdam. I've been working with flash since i was 17. Back in those days i used it to make simple websites. But after i discovered Newgrounds in 2003 I got inspired by the stuff i saw here and started using the program to create animations.
Luis: Do you have any siblings and are they into arty things at all? Do you have any family members in the creative industry? I always find it intruiging to find how peoples upbringings and environment may have played an influence on their creative tendencies... I mean to ask this in every interview but i forget to :P
My family is actually the most uncreative bunch of people imaginable. Nobody here really draws/paints or pees on canvases, but one of my best friends who i've been hanging with since i was 7 is a very talented artist. Back in the days he drew extremely realistic drawings with spot on shading for a kid. I learned a lot from him and we motivated each other to draw. I still have a Wolverine comic that we made together back then.
Luis: Aaactually speaking of environments, I was in Toronto a few months ago and I found it kind of refreshing how Flash had much more of a prescence and demand than it does where I live, like there was all these posted handbills of companies seeking flash creative work. Being that you live in Amsterdam (and the fact that I've never been there) what is the scene like over there?
AloneInTheDark: Well there is a good demand for people who are able with the program. There are a lot of web/graphic design companies that you can work for. The other day i had a job interview at an architecture agency and they even had a seperate team of photoshop/flash experts who made presentations and such for the firm. Also, there is this dutch guy who uses flash and is very respected in the avant garde art scene. His name is Hoogerbrugge, probably best known for his 'Hotel' series. On Submarine there is a nice overview of other notable dutch flash talent.
Luis: Ahh actually I've run into Hoogerbrugge's work by StumblingUpon it. I had no idea he was dutch. Anywho, I know you're not as active Flash wise as some of my past guests, however one of the things that I find intruiging about your work is that your work tends to explore subject matter that is unusual in the scene. Things like 'Autumn Tree' and even 'Alive' come to mind, where Flash becomes your personal soapbox to stand on and you are less concerned about appealing to a particular niche. What inspires you to tackle projects like those? I think alot of the reasons why artists dont stray to the unusual is because they fear that all their work will be in vain because people wont 'get it'... does that ever cross your mind?
AloneInTheDark: It's all a matter of where your priorities are. There are lot of animators who get their satisfaction out of the animating itself. For them, the idea and personal vision in making their shorts is less important, so they make things that are fun to animate and that are appreciated by a large crowd. There is nothing wrong with having this type of view on animation, as long as it is what you believe in. However, an artist should never let the public decide what stuff he is going to make. If for example an animator only makes animations based on video games, because that is what people want, then i think that's a pretty lame thing to do.
Luis: While I'm on the subject of 'Autumn Tree', what attracted you to work on such a contraversial subject matter? What sort of response did your audience have when you finally finished it? Was it a response that you anticipated or were you suprised/disappointed by what people thought about it?
AloneInTheDark: What interested me about the Columbine tragedy was the human aspect of the entire happening. So much has been said about it and what happened was terrible, but in the end it remains a story of 2 teenagers slipping away. Eric and Dylan weren't monsters or born evil. They were average kids living average lives in a boring town. I wanted to put emphasis on this aspect in the animation. I think these type of stories need to be told to let people form an opinion themselves about what happened. That is why i was very careful not to turn it into a melodrama and let the viewer sympathise with the killers or victims. It turned out rather bland and almost documentary like. I like that.
The response was actually more positive than i thought it would have been. I thought that a lot of people wouldn't get it and would think i was paying a tribute to Eric and Dylan but fortunately that wasn't the case. Many reviews were written and people all have their own views on the situation. That's all i could ask for really.
Luis: Fair enough. Ok, so earlier I touched on the subject of artists not wanting to stray too far from the norm. One of the hot subjects these days are artists feeling like their limelight is being eaten up by vast video game parodies and pop references. That the artistry behind animation is becoming ruined by artists who set out to spoil viewers with gimmicky forgetable flash movies. What is your take on the matter?
Do you think the outcry for change is valid? You've been around for many years now, do you see the scene changing?
AloneInTheDark: I don't think there is anything we can change. With the popularity of flash increasing, it is inevitable that the content of animation and games gets adjusted more to a mass audience. Especially since a lot of money can be made nowadays in the flash business. I do find it a pity, but that's the way it is. It's something that has happened during the development of cinema, music, gaming industry and television too.
However that doesn't mean that there is no room anymore for good original content. People will always enjoy to see an animation that's different from the norm, when it is made well. It's just harder to create such an animation when the obvious road to money and popularity is through simple parodies or used concepts.
The flash program itself is also becoming more and more professional. With the direct implementation of 3d techniques in the upcoming flash version the bar for animating and design will be raised dramatically. Online flash gaming also has a lot of potential and the business will only get bigger and bigger. I see the future very bright for the program.
Luis: I'm very wary of 3d.... but lets lighten the mood a bit... what interests do you have outside of flash?
AloneInTheDark: I love modern art and anything creative! I also like travelling and going out with friends. And like any other guy i'm also pretty interested in women and beer.
Luis: Speaking of outside interests, ok so I know your ultimate goal career-wise lies in architecture. I find that sort of unusual considering you have alot of potential in your flash work. What attracts you to the world of architecture anyway?
AloneInTheDark: What i love about architecture is the design process itself. It is actually very similar as to when i start making an animation. When I start an architectural project i analyse the context, start sketching and come up with a concept as to what the building should be. As i get further in the design process i focus from a broad perspective to the small details. I love using many different techniques, like making traditional drawings, scaled models, 3d renders and digital CAD drawings. When the building is designed and other people can see the qualities in it, that's something very satisfactioning.
The structured manner of thinking in architecture is something that i find really useful in the process of making an animation too.
Luis: To each his own brotha! So back to the Flash world. You finally wrapped up the first episode of Jinas near the end of last year, that's a rather gargantuan project you set out to create. Can you give us a brief run down of the series and where you are going with it, maybe what sort of things inspired you to persue it?
AloneInTheDark: The story itself is rather simple. It's basically a love story in many ways. Love for a special someone, love for friends and love for yourself. However cliche this may sound, I try to create characters that are very honest and real. They all have different sides to themselves and the situations they get confronted with during the series are never black or white. I want it to be humorous, but also confronting and thought provoking. A lot of my personal experiences have been a foundation for the series. Some of the personalities in the series are kind of the same as the ones of people close to me. It's a story i HAVE to tell.
Luis: Heres an easy question, we're a quarter of the way through 2008, what sort of things do you have in store for us this year?
AloneInTheDark: At the moment i'm working on a smaller side project. After each Jinas episode, i want to take the time to create some smaller stuff that has been in my head for ages. Right now it's an animation called 'Shaped Of Clay'. It's a rather dark animation about manipulation and perception. I hope to finish it this summer or something. After that, i want to make one more animation with Andres Ciambotti (co-author of Autumn Tree) before i start with episode 2 of Jinas.
Luis: Okay, last question.. if you were to disappear from the flash scene forever tommorrow what would you want your legacy to be?
AloneInTheDark: Well a fan club of blonde young women would be cool to have.
Past Archived Interviews:
- 03/2008 | Tom Fulp
- 02/2008 | Luis
- 01/2008 | Dr NeroCF
- 12/2007 | Buzzwerd
- 11/2007 | Rtil
- 10/2007 | AlmightyHans
- 09/2007 | Marc M
- 08/2007 | The-Swain
- 07/2007 | TimFrommeyer
- 06/2007 | NegativeOne
- 05/2007 | SickDeathFiend
- 04/2007 | Psychogoldfish
- 03/2007 | Mindchamber
If you or someone you know would be cool to be interviewed. Drop me a PM