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Creator Q&A: Andrea Schmitz

1. What is your name, what do you do, and which film did you make?

My name is Andrea Schmitz, I'm a motion graphics designer and animator, and I made RAPUNKZEL (and am also the architect behind Things Took a Turn!). 2. What experience do you have creating art and animation?

I learned AfterEffects at undergrad in 2012 and have been making projects – academic, professional, and personal – ever since! I have been working as a motion graphics professional since 2014 in education, advertising, and journalism.

3. What inspired you to pick the story you chose?

I actually started out wanting to do a Sleeping Beauty sci fi epic, and I created Things Took a Turn to open up the concept of a twisted fairytale adaption to everyone, but also to hold myself accountable to finish the project. It became clear after a while however that I was thinking too big, and it is very hard to create an active protagonist out of someone who sleeps through 80% of their story. So I switched at the last minute to this concept of a punk Rapunzel based on an early sketch I had done when I was concepting.

4. What was your process for making your film?

I used the same technique I did for my MFA thesis animated short, but with more of an idea of what I was doing. I storyboarded the project in Toonboom Storyboard Pro and transferred that over to Harmony, where I did all of the character animation and color. I then exported those as PNG sequences over transparency and composited everything in AfterEffects. The background linework and layout was done by the lovely Fiona Lu, who sent me the files before I composited.

5. How long did it take to make?

I spent January-March going for Sleeping Beauty, and then switched gears and spent 3 months making RAPUNKZEL instead. It may have bled over into 4 months, as I was running TTAT at the same time.

6. How experienced were you with narrative and story-based projects before making your altered fairytale? RAPUNKZEL is my fourth animated short, and the first under 5 minutes! It actually might be my fifth if you count my first animation class. I also actively write fanfiction and develop other writing projects on the side. 7. What was the easiest part? I designed the characters in one go, so that was probably the easiest. 8. What was the hardest part? Animating suckkks! IT TAKES SO LONNNNG! And COLORING! TAKES SO LONNNG! That one shot where the prince is trying to climb a rope took over 8 hours for just linework. And not even all of the linework! 9. What was your favorite part? Watching it finalized was my favorite part. Also the back and forth with my composer, Lori Lee Bulloch, where she kept sending me themes that sounded like an Avenged Sevenfold Dracula Castle or a Bubblegum Christmas Vortex. 10. Do you have words of wisdom for anyone who might want to create an animated short of their own? I am a believer that 85% of what anyone needs to make an animated short is the opportunity. So many people want to make story projects or personal projects but can't find the time or a way to hold themselves accountable to finish. I was inspired by gif competitions like the Ladies in Mograph LA Girl Gang Gif Challenge, and (very obviously) the groundbreaking indie short film anthology group Late Night Work Club. If you have a project that you really want to make but can't find a way to get started, just start! Make a deadline, hold yourself to it. You won't finish without one. And if you don't feel like animating, work on something else, like layout, or color. Arrange your tasks so that you work regularly without dragging yourself through it.

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