It looks sad or depressed, but not pessimistic and even looks to have firm strength. You can’t help but have your curiosity aroused to know more about the creator. Norma V Toraya‘s work submitted for this year’s DOTMOV Festival are outstanding from the all selected works, as well she did the cover design for this month. Where does the unique world underlying in her works come from? We’ll look for the roots.
Could you introduce yourself first?
My name is Norma V Toraya and I live in Los Angeles California. I moved to LA to get my masters in experimental animation and have been working as a webdesigner/animator/flash/coder type person for 5 years. I lived in New York City for awhile and in Miami also where I grew up. I have been creatively working under the name Crankbunny telling stories through animation.
What’s your activity at the moment? What actually are you doing?
I animate alot and work on freelance alot. I don’t really have a social life beyond going to a tattoo appointment once in awhile and occasional dinners with friends. So alot of my days consist of me drawing, doing work on the computer, and answering emails as they come in. Sometimes during the week I also go into school to meet with my mentors.
Could you explain in detail about “Army of Me” and “Harboring Wells” which you submitted for DOTMOV Festival? Why did you make these (“Army of Me” and “Harboring Wells”) works? How did you get these idea/concept?
Harboring Wells is older – so I will start there. I read an article about this little boy who lived with his dead mother for a month. He covered her with a coat and notebook paper, went to school, cooked his meals, and never told anyone till someone eventually noticed something. The last name of the mother was Wells, and I was really fascinated with this event. I found it interesting that children sometimes don’t understand what death really is and how their innocence makes them deal with the situation differently. I also found this similar to how people sometimes live their lives harbored/trapped in fond memories. So this idea came up about living in this clouded loop of a good memory while reality might be totally different and horrible. Thats why I called it ‘Harboring Wells’ and had these two characters (one of them is disfigured and kinda dead). The main character kinda floats along sort of in this dancing daze – ignoring the fact this other person is dead. And then you have the reality of these spider things that basically come after the two.
I intended for Harboring Wells to follow this track by Do Make Say Think which has a huge buildup. I also wanted the editing to stand out and work with the story. I worked the wrong way by animating a bunch of footage that I then edited – so it wasn’t approached traditionally where I had a storyboard and I then said ‘ok now I have to draw this and make this’ and move on to the next scene. I hoped by treating it like film footage and then editing it – it would feel more cinematic than animated.
Army of Me was finished in March (2004) and it took a year to make. I took some time off after I made all the test shots to move out to LA and get adjusted to going to school for animation. The main idea for it came from realizing that I’m this person who’s really apathetic when it comes to relationships, so how funny would it be to flip it and make my own army of norma’s with this aggressive powerful really focused agenda. Alot of people who know me (including myself) joke about how I am a robot because I work so much and for the most part am extremely organized and proficient in terms of delivery. I sometimes get tired of this joke, because its really horrible to think of oneself as this unfeeling – unemotional being. I’ve also become fascinated with desert landscapes and what they mean in terms of setting (it helps that where I live there is desert everywhere) so I shot alot of video footage in the desert that was them composited into the actual animated shots. I wanted Army of Me to be more about an environment than a story – it was difficult to structure so people would be left with atleast something of a story, instead of all these ambiguous episodes. I got alot of shit for the soundtrack I used – especially from faculty at school and what I call ‘older ears’ but it was just one source of input while I was making Army of Me. I also rely on input from friends, people I’ve worked with, my own sensibility, etc.
All of your submission to DOTMOV festival is outstanding with its unique style. One of the most impressive work is “Self-Portrait”. Is the woman in the film actually yourself?
Yes, thats me in ‘Self-Portrait’. I wanted to make something that would show who I am, but not fully disclose exactly what I look like. I meant it to make fun of myself and how show how I don’t take myself so seriously. Alot of times people assume I’m a very serious from the work I do. I wanted it to be more lighthearted and real – but I’ve gotten alot of mixed reactions from people with it. Some think its scary, some think its sad, and those who know me personally think its funny.
Please introduce your favourite works other than which you submitted for DOTMOV.
I like how my shack tests have come out. I like how a sense of space is created by going in and out transiently through different flat levels. I saw a film by Stuart Hilton called 6 weeks in June which impressed me and made me wanna test out some of my stuff different. I really also like how the animation for pumps with water came out – they are perfect to me, and its impressive they came out of 12 drawings. I also like how is so monochromatic/simple but still rich to the eye. I wanna work on more stuff like this.
Where do you get inspiration for your works?
I usually pick up inspiration from stuff I end up encountering that sort of stands out to me. Listening to music, getting mental pictures, daydreaming. Bumping into quotes or lines of text in the news or books or things people say that grab my attention. Thinking about personal situations and placing them in different contexts. Alot of times I find myself fascinated with certain historical events, or objects, or concepts and I’ll research the hell out of them. I also read alot of comic books and watch alot of animation at school which seems to be influencing me alot lately.
Tell me the concept of the cover design this month of Shift?
Its based on ideas and visuals I’ve been working out lately. I’ve very interested in woman spider imagery. the black widow. kinda like a femme fetale. I’ve run into this metaphor alot in paintings, books, movies, and tattoos lately. So, I drew up this double jointed female figure doing a spidery spin on her head outside a desert house. There’s a sense of spectacle and display to it with the small crowd in the background watching from a distance, the lights being on in the house, and the sign that announces Shift.
Is there any project your are planning to from now on or something work in progress?
I’m working on 2 main things right now – both are animated shorts. One will be shorter, looser, and more traditional in narrative – it should be done in late January. The other is a larger movie which should be done in a year or so. I’m trying to find a way to take off a few solid months off of my studies and work so i can just bulldoze through that project and spend some good quality time with it.
Please pass a message to Shift readers.
Please produce work (even the smallest stupidest thing), finish it, and find ways to show it to people. Someone told me that years ago and it stuck. Its okay also to hate your voice mail messages.
Text: Naoko Fukushi