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Persistence of Vision
The AnimationTrip Profile Series

Bruce Bickford, Part One

Bruce Bickford's work became known in the 1980s through Frank Zappa's concert film, Baby Snakes.  It contained some wonderfully bizarre clay animated sequences, unlike anything I'd seen before.

When the American Film Institute invited us to present Feats of Clay at Graumans Chinese Theatre in Hollywood as a special event for their AFI Fest, I contacted Bickford and invited him to create the opening title sequence for us in his distinct style.  What you experience in his animation though is the result of his stream-of-consciousness approach to filmmaking.  To hear him explain his method reminds me of what a painter goes through when he's in the moment of his work, unaware of anything else or himself, and therefore in a state of spontaneous creation.

In describing one of his segments, Bickford says, "Even though I didn't plan that out ahead of time, things like that were just the way things form.  Sometimes when you're doing a materialization of something, you can start out with just a tiny shape and then add to it."  In considering the time element in working with clay, Bickford adds, "Transforming is a lot like painting.  You have to get beyond how long it's taking you and just let it take its own course."

Bickford lives in Seattle, Washington.  He's received grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and the American Film Institute.  When he's not animating clay he's working on his line drawing short films.  He's completed several such shorts over the years.  It's another medium he utilizes to express his signature free-form style.  Bickford would like to explore other mediums as well.  "I'd like to team up with some computer animators and do all the various things it takes to expand the envelope," he muses.

Look for the Monster Road documentary on Bickford.  You can find the latest schedule of its screenings here. Watch the Feats of Clay teaser trailer here. Part two of our Bickford profile coming soon.

Chris Padilla
Co-Producer, Feats of Clay


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