Interview with Roberto

Roberto Ariganello phone interview
August 2006
Length: 8 minutes 40 seconds

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Roberto: …as a filmmaker?

Interviewer: uh yeah.

Roberto: Ok well, I consider myself a derelict filmmaker now because I’m working as an arts administrator for the last three years or four years.

Interviewer: OK, where are you working?

Roberto: I work at LIFT, the Liaison of independent Filmmakers of Toronto,.

Interviewer: Right.

Roberto: Which is like AFCOOP (Atlantic Filmmakers Co-op), but it’s in Toronto.

Interviewer: Gotcha.

Roberto: It’s a media arts centre.

Interviewer: OK.

Roberto: I’ve been making films for the last eleven years or so, and the two films that I’m showing are two animation films. One is my first film made by in 1995, and another is one that I made in 2000. They’re both cut-out animation films. I’ve made a number of films, approximately six or seven, that are experimental primarily.

Interviewer: OK.

Roberto: Some documentaries, some animation. I like to work in different film genres, there’s animation, documentary and a lot of found footage as well.

Interviewer: Can you explain a little bit about what cut-out animation is?

Roberto: Sure. Basically the two films that I’m going to show, both of them are cut-out animation. The imagery is appropriated from other print sources: magazines, books and so on.

Interviewer: Right.

Roberto: The first film is called Non-Zymase Pentathlon, and it’s a total… I collaborated with a friend of mine, and we basically cut out imagery from science books, National Geographic, all sorts of different sources and we then would collage the imagery. We’d create new imagery by collaging these cut-out pieces together. We’d take them out of their original context and put them into a new one. Sucking the original meaning out of the original images..

Interviewer: Right.

Roberto: It was very much a collage way of working as well. In both cases the films were improvisational, insofar as… We knew what kind of imagery we liked, but we didn’t really know how we were going to shoot it. So we spent a lot of time acquiring and accumulating the imagery and then we organized it. And when we got down to shooting it would be like, well, we would just decide what we wanted to shoot, what we wanted to use. And then we would shoot it, and get the results back and do the same thing again and again until we had enough footage that we were happy with.

Interviewer: OK.

Roberto: It’s a very different way of working.

Interviewer: Yes.

Roberto: Collaboration isn’t considered very common in filmmaking. A lot of people like to work on their own, especially in animation.

Interviewer: Right.

Roberto: Typically animation is something that’s very well thought out, well in advance. There’s not really much room for improvisation. It’s something that both appealed to us. It’s a very interesting, very dynamic way of working. We were very happy with the results.

Interviewer: In general would you say that experimental animation and filmmaking of this sort tends to eschew narrative structure?

Roberto: In a way, yes. I think narrative is engrained in any filmmaker, regardless of what… even if they’re experimental filmmakers. In both of these films there is something of a narrative, something of a storyline. It’s not really obvious.

Interviewer: OK.

Roberto: In the second film called Contrafacta, which only uses medieval work, there’s a lot of images of individuals that are repeated. For me they’re like characters that come back and there’s a very loose narrative. I think, even in experimental films, narratives tend to imply that there’s a story, but more often it means that there’s a structure to it, and I think that structure is something that exists in experimental films and non-narrative films. But just in terms of it being very explicit it’s not, they’re not,…

Interviewer: Right.

Roberto: …explicit in that way. The other thing is that we were, in both cases, we were working with the visual material, not the sound. In both cases we worked with the visual material and created a visual film and then we worked with the sound to complete the project.

Interviewer: OK.

Roberto: Very often in narratives the sound or the text or the script is written first to direct the shots.

Interviewer: Right, right. OK. Interesting. I heard from Chris (Chris Spencer-Lowe) that you’re actually delivering some editing equipment.

Roberto: This is the thing, you know. Filmmaking is changing quite a bit and it’s still a very popular format. I think the goal for us at LIFT is to provide affordable equipment to filmmakers and I think the changes in technology that have occurred recently, moving more towards the digital realm, is great, there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s happening is that it’s also separating itself from the analog formats like filmmaking. And it’s helping identify… Film is now a little bit, it’s more unique now and it’s more creative. I’m very happy that the film industry is embracing digital technology because it means that artists can embrace films as an art form, not just as another format.

Interviewer: Right, right.

Roberto: And to that end our goal is also to make 35mm production available and accessible. One of the things I’m delivering is an editing table, a flatbed table. It’s a very unique one in that you can actually edit 16mm and 35mm on the same tables. So it accommodates both formats.

Interviewer: Oh wow.

Roberto: I think they were looking for a 35mm flatbed, and this one’s just, well… it does both so it’s more useful.

Interviewer: Wow. Excellent.

Roberto: Hopefully everything will go well. I’ll be driving it up starting next Tuesday, it will take me a couple of days to get up there.

Interviewer: Very good, that’s a long drive.

Roberto: It is, but being on the road is like meditation.

Interviewer: Right, it’s not a bad time of the idea to come either. So in terms of what you’re going to present, you’re going to present your two films. Will you give a talk as well about the work?

Roberto: I’ll be giving an artist’s talk primarily to an animation club that’s there. For me it’s like, I’m not really big on animation in the conventional sense. I’m not really interested in computer animation, or even cell animation. But what I am intrigued with is animation cameras, and the different kinds of work you can do with them, they’re very versatile.

Interviewer: Right.

Roberto: And I think cut-out animation is just one example, and I want to encourage them to… That’s the thing about filmmaking. The goal is to learn the technology, in this case very old technology, but also figure out its creative possibilities. I think now animation cameras allow people to be very tactile, under the camera you can actually be very physical with the material you’re working with, you can paint, you can scratch, you can do all sorts of things beneath the camera which can be very appealing and very exciting to visual artists for example. So, that’s the goal, to explore that creativity.

Interviewer: OK. Very good.

Roberto: Yes, I’m very happy about being invited up. I’m looking forward to showing the films and seeing what kind of response they draw.

Interviewer: Excellent. Alright, thanks very much Roberto for calling me back.

Roberto: You’re very welcome.

Interviewer: And safe driving. I’m sure everything will go well here with this week. I’m looking forward to trying to get out and checking out some of these things myself.

Roberto: Please do.

Interviewer: All right, take care of yourself.

Roberto: Bye now.

Interviewer: Bye.