Guilherme Marcondes with a full head of hair
- Name: Guilherme Marcondes
- Created on: 1977-August-6
- Record last updated on: 2008-October-1
- Homepage: guilherme.tv
- Domain: Filmmaking, Animation, Mixed-media
- Location: New York, NY
Brazilian-born filmmaker, Guilherme Marcondes has directed spots for Diesel, MTV International, and Nickelodeon while simultaneously busting out tongue-in-cheek animations and experimental personal projects. Recently, his interpretation of a William Blake poem, The Tyger, won him over 20 awards and admirable web cred. When Flux caught up with the filmmaker, we offered him our interpretation of his sinister mixed-media short. It won us a surprising answer about inside jokes and visual ghosts. Then, naturally, our conversation turned to communist cartoons, Brazilian horror movies, and the erudite voices inside Marcondes’ head.
Metropolis2008 MBX project for Virgin Comics
What is your media-saturation history? What kind of cartoons were you watching as a child in São Paulo? What comic books were you reading? And, how did that history seep into your design aesthetic?
When I was a kid I watched everything on television from Hanna Barbera to this obscure show on Brazil’s state-sponsored channel, which aired all sorts of Eastern European and Russian animation. That was my first contact with experimental animation. Of course, back then I just thought they were “crazy cool cartoons.” At that time, I was living in Salvador, one of the oldest cities in the country. The city was growing fast and the mix of Baroque Colonial architecture, African-Brazilian culture, and modernity arriving in the shape of shopping malls, created an environment saturated enough to define my taste for collage aesthetics.
Veins from Embodiment of Evil, horror film opening sequence
You began as an architecture student, and though you say you never had intentions of becoming an architect, does what you learned ever manifest itself in your visual work (perhaps inadvertently)? The way you create visual landscapes and cities, for example?
I like experiencing architecture, not practicing it. Just as I go to the movies or listen to music, I like to wander around a city, paying attention to how the space is organized, how the transportation works, etc. I’m interested in how the environment we live in changes and conditions our personalities. That’s clearer in Tyger than in any other film I’ve made. That also explains why I like J.G. Ballard so much!
Tyger seems self-referential in many aspects, the intentionally visible puppeteers being the clearest illustration, but all of your work features references to themes, images, even cities not immediately familiar to the average viewer — something personal and collaged. Is there a deliberate intention on your part to present visuals that need analyzing?
Some aspects of my work may seem like personal references to some viewers who aren’t familiar with the symbols. They assume it’s an inside joke or something. In reality, most of the time I work hard to choose symbolism that will appeal to everyone. It’s not so much about “analyzing.” It’s meant to intrigue the viewer; it’s meant to be open enough in the hopes that those images will haunt viewers for a long time. The films I like most are the ones I don’t “get” the first time I watch them. Cronenberg, Lynch, etc.
A still from the widely renowned Tyger
Another visual from Tyger
Do you ever fantasize about film school students deconstructing your work? What are they saying?
I went to a traditional French-style University in São Paulo. The bigger your head was, and the longer and more flourished your analysis of a piece of work, the better. I was definitely influenced by that, and although I try not to get too deep into it… Yes, I do have a lot of students inside my head analyzing my work.
What are some of the benefits of working in the short film genre? What happens to an artwork when it has no time to waste?
Short films are good grounds for experimentation, but I also believe they are art forms in their own right. They’re not just a path to features. There are more and more short films on the internet for example. Maybe features are like long symphonies in a world increasingly more interested in three-minute catchy pop songs. Who knows? Nevertheless, I am happy watching both.
Collage from Marcondes’ yet to be unveiled new short film
Since signing on with New York production company, Hornet Inc., you’ve stated in previous interviews your aim to work on projects in different formats. What do you have in mind, ideally, and what do you currently have in the works?
I’m working on an opening sequence for a film called, Bunraku — imdb it folks! It’s more like a short before the main feature, but feels completely integrated with the film. It’s an interesting project with a lot of animation techniques, and the director of the feature is letting me do my own thing. A rare circumstance, so I’m glad to be doing it. Apart from [Bunraku], I just finished a trailer for an animated series written by Grant Morrison. It’s under development right now. Also doing another film opening for a Brazilian horror movie, a super fun ident for BBC2, a video installation with my wife (and Marcondes’ frequent collaborator Andrezza Valentin), and an artsy viral for J&B. I’m writing down some ideas for my next short film, too, because it’s about time to do that.
You often mention that without former training as an illustrator, you had to “learn on the job.” In your case, you’ve been “a student” in disparate places of the world — São Paulo, London, L.A. What are the different approaches and different attitudes toward animation and film in the cities and countries in which you’ve worked? How are those different schools of thought evident in your work? Does one prevail over another? Is there an approach you favor, in particular?
Brazil is very DIY. Not much training, no big film schools, no strong tradition in animation. It’s getting more structured lately, but it’s still precarious. London is more academic. There’s RCA, and all the people coming from there and other big schools set the tone of production. I like the kind of work they do in U.K. It’s an ironic take on pop culture. I think they tend to find a nice balance between pop and experimental. In the U.S., there seems to be a battle between the huge mainstream machine and guerilla-style productions — not much middle ground. There are some things in between, but not that many considering the size of the country. Anyway, the production in the U.S. is more vast and varied than anywhere I’ve been. In L.A., things obviously tend to gravitate around the mainstream movie industry, and New York seems to house more independent creators. Of course, I don’t want to be black and white about it. There’s a bit of everything in all of those places.
Bruce Parry, 2008 BBC2 ident
You’re planning a permanent move to New York, soon. What prompted the change, and what do you hope will result from it?
A few different things. Being closer to Hornet is good for me right now, and my wife intends to get her Masters in Fine Arts in N.Y. — those are the two main reasons. As a city, N.Y. is more exciting than L.A., if you don’t mind living in a closet and having super cold winters. Since I left Motion Theory to do my own things, I feel the need to make more contacts, and build a network of collaborators around me. Although the industry is huge here, I feel that in N.Y., networking is faster and more person-to-person, instead of company-to-company as it is in L.A. We’ll see.
Did you ever regard Los Angeles as a permanent destination, then? Or was it always more of a layover?
I moved to L.A. without ever being here before. It was a kind of adventure. I didn’t know what to expect, or how long I would be here. In the beginning, I didn’t like it (like most people) but I learned to like it (again, like most people). L.A. is a very unique place and I recommend experiencing it. I think New York is the place I should be right now, but I wouldn’t close the door on a move back to L.A. in the future. Although I have absolutely no intentions of moving again any time soon!
What piece of “breaking Guilherme news” can you give us that no one else has yet?
I finally got a haircut.
- Social Web