Thinking about partnering up for your thesis? Hsuan Ho & Silver Paul took home the Dusty for Outstanding Animated Film. Here, Hsuan tells us the good and the bad of collaborating on a thesis film.
I’ve always been interested in storyboarding – perhaps because it dictates how story and character are revealed. Silver Paul, my co-director, is an amazing partner and a strange human being; he creates the most ridiculous characters and animates them in the funniest ways. Despite working with a truly talented friend, Mausie and The Order of the Golden Sun was an uphill battle to complete. At the start of the year Silver and I gave ourselves deadlines, but we ended up missing every single one of them. We struggled a lot and argued constantly throughout the production, but in the end we are glad that we chose to work with each other. We watched each other’s backs and we learned each other’s ways of working. I’m not sure how, but by the end of the year we managed to get everything turned in just in time for the the final submission date.
Thesis year was tough, but it forced me to learn a lot in a short period of time. Silver and I had no prior experience working with artists from outside our social network, but we needed composers, sound designers, and 2Dfx artists. We ended up filling those jobs with artists we’d never met before (all from different countries!), hiring them based solely on their previous work. It’s somewhat risky to trust your work in a stranger’s hands, but it’s something that we needed to do. There’s no workshop at SVA that teaches you how to collaborate with a complete stranger. Fortunately we worked with great folks; our composers Erick Del Aguila and Nami Melumad made a phenomenal orchestral score that boosted the entire atmosphere of the film; our sound designer Juan Carlos Garcia Angel rendered the mice squeaks to be cute and charming, giving our thesis depth. We contacted 2Dfx artist Quentin Cordonnier at the last minute, and it’s a miracle we found someone who worked so quickly and professionally. He handled the explosion, the fire, and the magic in some of the most important scenes in the film. Without him the final product wouldn’t be so gorgeous. Some underclassmen also provided us help, sacrificing their free time and sleep to help us complete our film. It proves animation is no one person’s creation.
If there’s any advice I can give, it’s to always do more work than the professors ask for. Instead of doing the minimum; give yourself assignments, post artwork online, look up artist interviews, and read about how they got themselves jobs doing what they love the most. I highly encourage students to collaborate on their thesis films. It’s a warm up for the real world, where you have to work with other people, and an idea will be twisted and turned until it becomes a story worth telling.