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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Women Animators:
 Angie Hauch

NOTE: This post originally appeared on my Smudge Animation site on March 20th, 2012.

Angie Hauch
I first met Angie several years ago at the Ottawa Animation Festival. I was walking out of the Arts Court building and bumped into her and her two friends, David and Brianne. Ottawa 2010 was an abysmal time for me, so when these three college students stopped me on the street and said that they knew who I was, it caught me off guard. If memory serves, I had apparently been at an ASIFA/Central event (or was it KAFI?) which they had attended and remembered me from. I vaguely remember mumbling something about ASIFA, wished them well, and then shuffled back to my hotel room where a confrontation with a business partner, still hung-over from a previous night of drinking, awaited me.

Fast forward six months to the ASIFA/Central Spring meeting where I once again bumped into Angie and David. This time, I was better prepared--though at the time, I barely recognized them and spent probably a little too much time looking across the table at Angie and David in a desperate attempt to get the grey matter's pattern recognition software working. But eventually it kicked in and, yes, they were who I thought they were--minus Brianne of course. It was at that time where I really got the chance to talk to, and more importantly listen to, Angie. She was getting ready to graduate from Kendall and had spent a wonderful time interning for a production company in Chicago on a film entitled "The Edge of Joy". That afternoon, we got to see her senior film "Cuckoo for Two" (co-produced with her classmate Angela Tidball), which went on to be screened at the 28th Chicago's International Children's Film Festival. As gracious as I remembered from Ottawa, Angie agreed to let me interview her for an upcoming 'Women in Animation' post as soon as she got settled into her career.

Later that year, David and Angie were two of the several people who contacted me about attending Ottawa 2011. I'm thankful to say that I listened to their advice as I went on to have the best Ottawa Animation Festival experience that I have ever had in seventeen years of attending OIAF. The high point of the festival though was the first night where I had dinner with David and Angie and she updated me on her career, then reiterated that she'd be happy to let me interview her.

While "Cuckoo For Two" is still making it's way through the festival circuit, after reading her interview, I encourage you to watch the film that Angie worked on during her internship at the following link: "The Edge of Joy".

UPDATE: "Cuckoo For two" has been posted on Vimeo by its co-creator, and Angie's co-animator, Angela Tidball. You can watch it below.
Cuckoo for Two - 3D Animated Short from Angela Tidball on Vimeo.

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Q: What is your current job description?
A:
Associate Producer at Woodlawn Avenue Productions

Youth media instructor, and freelance designer/animator at the University of Chicago: Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research

Q: How long have you worked in the animation industry?
A:
I'm really just starting my career, I graduated in May 2011 from Kendall College of Art and Design.

Q: What roles have you performed during your career in animation?
A:
I started interning at Woodlawn Ave during college as a motion designer and production assistant on the maternal health film The Edge of Joy. I'm AP, assistant editing, and making some motion graphics on the current documentary, a film about women who were forcibly sterilized by the state of North Carolina. The topics are intense, I've been asked if it's hard to have to think about these issues everyday... and it is, but once I start working on a film it's easy to get passionate about it and get that feeling where I have to be involved in telling the story, how could I not be?

Last summer after doing a couple freelance projects for the Section of Family planning, I got involved with Game Changer Chicago, an interdisciplinary program put on by the University of Chicago, where youth collaborate with doctors, professors, artists and community members to create games that promote social change. By using a fictional game based platform we're able to discuss some deeper issues our youth recognize in their communities here on the south side of Chicago, like teen pregnancy, cyber bullying, STD's, abuse, emotional and reproductive health, and access to healthcare, and apply these issues to the world. In the past we've designed interactive comic books, our current game is an online ARG based on leaked information about one doctors quest to stop the spread of STD's and a greedy corporation that tries to use the technology for profit. Along with storytelling skills and game development we teach the kids basic animation, video and image editing so they can be a part of every aspect of production.

I feel really fortunate to be a part of projects that educate and raise awareness on these serious issues.

Q: Is there a book or film that you worked on that you are particularly proud of?
A:
Cuckoo for Two, is my first 3D animated short film, a collaborative senior thesis project I co-produced with classmate Angela Tidball. It was an ambitious undertaking to make a five min film in less than a year but we persisted through it, learned a lot on the way and achieved our goal of getting into a few festivals. It was a huge learning curve and like all student projects I have a hard time watching it with out dwelling on the mistakes, but it's been a blast to screen it at the children's festivals for younger audiences who throughly enjoy all the films they see.

Q: How have opportunities changed for women pursuing a career in animation today as opposed to when you started your career?
A: I think that one of the scariest and most advantageous hurdles our generation is facing, man or woman, is being in the age of prosumer technology. The tools are available to everyone you just need to find a mentor or more often than not, take the time to teach yourself. The opportunity is there for everyone to be a great independent filmmaker, and with social media sites like vimeo you can reach your audience, there's just a lot more junk to sift through.

Q: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to women who want to pursue a career in animation?
A:
Animation is one of the strangest careers. I can't think of a more demanding or time consuming career. That being said, animators are usually extremely passionate about their filmmaking but that doesn't always lend itself to having great social lives or a lot of family time. For a woman it's not an impossible but an intimidating future. This is a choice every career women meets differently.

Q: If your daughter said that she wanted to work in animation, what advice would you give her?
A:
If my daughter was aspiring to be an animator, I would encourage her to really observe the industry by watching new and old animation, attending festivals, joining animation groups or starting your own. Always have a work-in-progress project and a dedicated space to work, some place that is just for animating. Animation takes over your life and you need to be ready for it. Get those early internships, fill your free time with drawing and creative writing classes and find a group of supportive friends you can trust and share ideas with. You'll want to be surrounded by likeminded people who can remind you that you chose to be an animator not just because you like it and you want to, but because you love it and you have to!

Q: What is the most important thing that authority figures (parents/teachers/professors) can do to encourage girls who are considering a career in animation?
A:
Some girls are turned off by animation because all they see is combat, chicks in tiny tops and short skirts, sci-fi, crude humor, or weird fantasy that has no appeal to them. It's hard not to be prejudiced about animation being a respectful career for a woman when the industry is saturated with this kind of media, it may be the only exposure to the art some girls have. Parents and teachers should encourage girls to really explore illustrators as well as animators and make a commitment to creating their own style if they aren't happy with what they see, rather than swearing off animation as a boys' club.

* The image used in this blog entry is copyright Angie Hauch and used with her permission.