A Family Portrait / 4:59 minutes
Artist name: Joseph Pierce
Five minutes in the life of a family as they sit for a professional photographer.
Under the scrutiny of the camera’s gaze, the family’s tensions bubble to the surface. The hidden resentments erupt under the photographer’s scrutiny, while Pierce’s animated treatment of the characters is funny and unsettling in equal measure.
oseph Pierce is an award winning animator and filmmaker. On graduating with from the National Film and Television School in 2008, he was named one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow. His graduation film Stand Up was screened at over 30 International film festivals, winning major prizes in France, UK, Spain and Poland.
His 2010 Channel 4 commissioned short A Family Portrait screened in over 35 festivals, winning multiple awards including Best Animation at Bristol Encounters, Best Debut at Hiroshima and the Grand Prize at Stuttgart Trickfest.
His subsequent animation work spans film, documentary, online content and music promos with clients including BBC Comedy, BBC Films, Film4 and Atlantic Records. Aside from his short film work he has collaborated with 59 Productions on various projects, most recently the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.
His latest short The Pub is currently touring festivals worldwide, having won major prizes at Los Angeles Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival and Raindance.
He is currently working as 59’s director of animation for the world premiere of The Perfect American for the ENO / Teatro Royale Madrid.
I wanted to continue using a rotoscoped technique to explore the ‘human condition’, which of course is quite vague. I was interested in the family unit, a the British trait of suppressing emotions and sweeping feelings under the carpet. Once I decided on a female protagonist and set it during a photography (which I find deliciously awkward) session the script fell into place relatively quickly.
Technique-wise I developed the rotoscope technique by drawing by hand onto printouts (rather than using a tablet). This is of course labourious (printing drawing scanning and laying out), but I was happy with the faint texture of the print out and being able to colour it with inks. Philosophy-wise I enjoy flawed characters that you can sympathise with so quickly I developed this mother character who is consumed with paranoia, but this comes from her own guilt. I also like surprising the audience. By using animation AND comedy it’s easy to make the audience feel relaxed—they don’t expect to be challenged. But for me, films that provoke a guttural response are the ones I remember.