“Strange Creatures” Populate this Weekend’s Indie Seattle Animation Show

Between Adventure Time earning in-depth analysis from NPR and Laika Studios’ Paranorman receiving glowing critical consensus, weird animation seems to be having a renaissance right now.

This weekend, Seattle is planning on contributing its own squiggly stuff to this new golden age of animation. Seattle Experimental Animation Team (SEAT) is preparing to screen Strange Creatures at Northwest Film Forum, a charming collection of local alternative indie animation. The show, curated by animator Tess Martin, is loosely themed around the interaction between humans and animals.

“Portland has a great animation scene because they have Laika Studios there,” Martin says. “But a lot of them are what I’d call ‘for hire’ animators, they don’t necessarily have the time or opportunity to make their own independent work. In Vancouver BC, they’re mostly doing video games and special effects for movies because that’s the industry that exists. I’d say Seattle, especially in the Northwest, has the biggest and most cohesive community of indie animators.”

SEAT is one of the main reasons those animators have found such a cohesive community in Seattle. In 2002, animator Stefan Gruber, who teaches animation at The Nova Project, assembled animators in the city to create SEAT, which started out as a sort of workshop that would meet in cafes. For animators who spend most their time locked away making characters bop around frame by frame, SEAT was a chance to meet up and talk shop.

“Animation can be pretty lonely,” Martin says. “Pretty soon we realized we were doing work that was too big to create in a cafe, so we started having potlucks and teaming up to work together on larger projects.”

By 2008, the ten core memebrs of the group were actively collaborating together. Flash forward to 2013, and SEAT is preparing to show Strange Creatures as its second animation program after its initial internationally touring show that travelled to nine countries.

The show will feature work by Drew Christie, Bruce Bickford, Stefan Gruber, Webster Crowell, Britta Johnson, Clyde Petersen. Tess Martin herself will be showing two different shorts: her marker-on-glass animated short They Look Right Through You, which is about “human-pet relations,” as well as The Whale Story, which was animated on the 16 foot high wall over at Cal Anderson park on Capitol Hill.

Strange Creatures screens Saturday, August 3rd, at 4:00PM at the NW Film Forum. Price is $10/general public, $6/Film Forum members, $7/Seniors, Children under 12 and Students with valid photo ID.

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