Friday, January 24, 2014
Andreas Von Andrian - remembered
Tom Sito sent me a email. It said, 'In Hollywood, there is an annual custom called The Afternoon of Remembrance where the animation community gathers and we speak about everyone in animation who passed in the year just concluded. We are honoring 50 people this year, including Ray Harryhausen, Diane Disney and Harold Whitaker. We are also honoring Andreas von Andrian.' He asked me to write something about Andreas. So here it is. ----------------------------------------------------------- When people ask me the main difference between working in live action and working in animation, I always say 'A complete lack of pretentious jerks. Ok, a few execs maybe, but the people in animation who actually work in production are nicer, and more genuine, because animation is an overwhelmingly tedious process. So to do it, you have to LOVE it! 'Unlike a live action film set, there is nobody in animation walking around with a clipboard, trying to look busy, important, or hoping to get a selfie with a celebrity. We tend to write, draw, stare at animatics, write and draw more. Lather, rinse, repeat. The process is figuratively, and occasionally still in some remote corners ... literally, like watching paint dry. So what I'm saying is you meet passionate people in animation, who love this really tedious time consuming work. And Andreas Von Andrian was one of the nicest and most genuine. I miss him often. And I am so pleased to hear that you are honouring the memory of Andreas tonight. I had the privilege of working with Andreas over the last few years. Not many people realise just how funny this tall, ok,... giant man was. When I first met Andreas, he handed me his storyboard samples in a very official manner, and told me in a dry clinical fashion that I should hire him, quite simply because he was very good at his job. I told him I was looking for people who were really good at comedy and in the most serious tone, made more serious by his German accent, he said 'That is me. I am funny.' And Andreas was. What I didn't realise at first, was that he had two modes. And he could switch between like a lightswitch. Click, and you had the obvious serious, intellectual side, and then click,... bring on the yucks! We shared a lot of serious lunches discussing theology, spirituality and politics. But when it was time to be funny, he was hysterically so. He became, to use a familiar word, animated. He became a cartoon! Angles of arms and legs of a six foot-god-knows-what man was leaping about the room nearly hitting the ceiling with wild gesticulation! Then he'd get serious for a moment, like a mad scientist of comedy, having a eureka moment, and he'd be up and acting out the gag in several different ways, some ever so slight, trying to work out which was the funniest. And we laughed. We laughed a lot. It was a joy to work with him, to break boards, to brainstorm and in essence, goof off for a living. This was hardly watching paint dry. And lunchtime was always interesting. I learned a lot from working with Andreas, and also learned a lot from those lunches. He worked from my house from time to time, and that was fantastic. Effortlessly, he could flick that switch on socially, and make my kids laugh too. They thought he was hysterical, and my son was gutted when he heard that Andreas wouldn't be coming round anymore. Andreas wasn't just a safe pair of hands, he was a safe pair of extremely talented hands. His artwork always appeared effortless. And fast! Did I mention fast?! Nobody could draw faster than him. I know that towards the end, the effortless trick was less so. He struggled with headaches and with his eyesight and couldn't figure out what was wrong. The bottom line, is that in this life, you meet people you work with who you connect with. And for me, that's usually someone that I can share a good laugh with. The loss of his life is a loss for our industry - but also for his family and anyone who ever called him friend.