SOLDIER ONLINE was voted BEST ANIMATION FILM at the January 2020 DANCE & MUSIC Festival in Toronto.
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
John J.A. Jannone: Daniel Munkus, one of the three musicians in the band Old Robes, was my student in the M.F.A. program in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) at Brooklyn College. We became friends and collaborated for several years. When Old Robes’ new album The Spider and the Spectator was coming out, Daniel commissioned a bunch of artists to make music videos, and I created this video. The mystery and energy of this song struck me in particular, and I was interested in who the “Soldier Online,” the character in the song, was.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
I worked on this animation for about a month. Since it is a sound-responsive, generative animation, it is both an animation and a piece of software, so much of the work of creating this piece was coding.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
There were many technical challenges. The language I was working in is very good at creating real-time, sound-responsive animation, but much less well suited to “editing” a structured film. So the biggest challenge was to leverage the strength of the language while “bending” it to function more like conventional editing software.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was very pleased that people responded so positively to the animation. I was not surprised to hear that reactions to the music were not as positive – I’ve heard a lot of negative contents about the music – but I find it very interesting and challenging music.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
I found the animated soldier figure, and he guided the whole process – I worked through various permutations – breaking him into polygons, slicing him into ribbons, distorting his form and re-constructing it. I was also interested in creating a hand-drawn feeling from a totally software-based animation, which lead to a lot of work with applying structured randomness to the lines and forms.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably La Dolce Vita and Persona, as I teach an audiovisual aesthetics class, and we watch both films in the class.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
I love it – I reach many more festivals than I would without it, and it keeps track of submissions for me!
9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
Ha – possibly this one – when making an animation, one listens to the song many, many times. But, other than this, I think I’ve probably listened to Mahavishnu Orchestra’s album Inner Mounting Flame, and John Scofield’s Still Warm, pretty darn extensively. Also, everything by Foals and LCD Soundsystem, always on repeat.
10. What is next for you? A new film?
Just finished it! A feature I produced and composed the music for, four years in the making, premiering at CINEQUEST next month: http://smallTimeFilm.com/