Renaissance, selfies and UFOs: Anton Ballet’s ultra short films mix humor, art history and contemporary issues.
TWS –Hi Anton, Please tell us something about yourself.
Hi Max! My name is Anton Ballet (or maybe it’s a pseudo?). I’m a creative at a big advertising agency in Paris.
TWS –Memes, classic painting, humor and instagram. The mix seems as crazy as it can get, but it’s utterly awesome. How did you arrive to start making this animations?
At the beginning it was an animation concept thought for a luxury brand I was working on, but it wasn’t selected in the end. I started to play with it and made my own animations just for fun. I explored different types of images and periods of history before ending up in paintings because of free rights. Moving eyes, shaping a smile on a face… they gave me the impression of returning them back to life. The characters are alive with movements, it’s magic! Initially, I changed the less possible the original painting, just simply adding a funny twist.
TWS –You define yourself as ultra short film maker. What’s in the concept of loop that captured you?
Now I allow myself more freedom, moving from simple animation of characters into creation of ultra short stories. I create different scenes with more rhythm. Sound is also now added and bring more depth to the story. It’s taking more time, but it is certainly the logical continuation of what I have started, avoiding going in circles. I have done this with «The Archer » for the first time and since then I’m developing this universe. I imagine my own parallel medieval time where I mix contempory objects from today, aliens, etc… It’s kicky to blend swords and aliens; it’s like launching sharks into space! These are sort of short movies with ancient actors from the Renaissance that I re-hire.
TWS –Humor is a key element to understand your work, but there’s also many thoughts / critics about our current way of living. How would you like your ideal viewer understands your pieces? And which is the feedback you get from people and how do you think people interpret your films?
The first time I manage to animate a character, I immediately felt it was fun to give him unexpected and off-the-wall expression. It assigns him another personality far away from the magistral painting where he belongs. This major gap of attitude became the ludicrous underlying theme. The absurd humor appears when juxtaposing the Renaissance art with people doing contemporary (or even sci-fi) stuff. Humor gives them a dose of humanity, putting them into another context (fall, explosion, an iPhone in hand…): this is disruptive with the period and funny at the same time! I got a lot of comments saying my universe is close to Monty Python’s. I particularly like the british humor, I am not surprised it appear in what I do. By the way I received some critics when I posted videos with Jesus inside (when smoking for example), mentioning we should not touch religion. I cannot imagine the reception of «The life of Brian» at the time! Now I avoid this approach, even if this post has been one of the most popular!
TWS –Can you walk us through your creative process? Which is the process that lead you to making one of your pieces?
I spend a lot of time (days) searching for the images in high resolution. Often this time and process is the key to inspire me. The creative brainstorm starts by the sentence « what if he/she does…». Easily I can say it represents one third of the work. I have big file on my Mac to save everything I find, kind of a digital mood board. Ideas can come when looking this file, but now I tend to write my ideas down. I like sketching on my tidy notebook – paper heading to digital. Ideas must be simple, understandable without words like on silent movies. After I look for the characters, background of paintings and a rhythm, and finally I start the animation and add the sounds.
TWS –How much have you learned of classic painting so far? Were you an expert on the subject before?
I have studied plastic and history arts for many years, so I know a lot already – the great names of painters. But since I focused on the Renaissance, I discovered many new artists. I especially spend times observing the artworks, checking every single detail to see if I can cut a thing, a part, make something here and there… I came across a lot of crazy paintings of that period… and I think to myself that nothing can be added on!
TWS –Which art period is your favorite to work with? Why?
Today Renaissance is my favorite. I love that period’s style and mood. Maybe in the future I will move to another period, like the 18th century or even the Egyptians 🙂 But that will happen when I have no idea left for Renaissance. But today I cannot go somewhere else !
TWS –Which is your definition of collage?
I like the idea that collage is similar to Hip Hop music process: finding a good old song, isolating a good sample, and joining a modern beat and lyrics… Kind of the same for my work, instead of a song this is a painting. The mix ends with a total new vibe and a new identity.