I was very lucky to be approached by Max Rothman, who from the very beginning gave me a lot of creative freedom. The choice of poems he offered was terrific, but I was immediately drawn to Stanzas, which struck me as very visual with great potential for developing into a unique abstract animated film.
The poem is about getting out of the prison of our minds and thoughts. I love the title Stanzas - the poem actually consists of three stanzas, but I also under stand "stanzas" as different stages in life. I treated each of the three stanzas of the poem as three separate parts, each of which would have its own unique visual style and language.
The first stanza is rigid, structured, fragmented, and "in square." It represents being locked inside one's own mind. In our minds we create all of the structures that do not exist in nature. In the second stanza, I gradually introduced more organic elements and more color to signify the author slowly realizing that there is a whole new reality beyond thoughts. The third stanza represents the state of being free of one's mind, as in the state of nirvana. It was a challenge for me to approach this last part. I did everything leading up to it on computer, but at this point I felt restrained by 2D.
After a few tests and experimentations, I decided to work on-camera, mixing acrylic paint with milk and soap which resulted in very interesting visuals. I found that it was the best way to communicate the fluidity and "oneness" of this final state of mind that Huxley wrote about. I was happy that the visuals I created with plaint resembled both the microscopic and macroscopic world - some look like bacteria and the larger universe at the same time, conveying the idea that the whole universe is made out of the same matter, and we are all part of one greater whole.
It was a blast working on this project. Having the voice over actor's recitation of a poem and a beautiful music composition already created, I felt that I could go "wild" with the visuals and really explore and push the idea of animated poetry. We've seen a lot of narrative animations with traditional storylines; in my mind, Campfire Poetry Cinema is truly unique and shows that animation is capable of doing much more than that. Visualizing complex concepts has always been one of my main interests, and here I was able to channel that directly into my approach.