Following the end of a stormy love affair, Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka enlists in the First World War. After suffering serious injuries in battle, he experiences a series of memories and visions as medics transport him through the forests of the Russian front. Playful and imaginative, “I’m OK” explores the wounds of heartbreak and trauma. We spoke with the director, Lizzy Hobbs, about the passion-filled piece and she set the scene for us.
“The film is about the artist Oskar Kokoschka at a dramatic period of his life. His lover Alma Mahler had ended their relationship and sent him off to fight in the First World War…The film is about that little period of time around 1914, when there was plenty of passion and drama in his life. The animation springs from his drawings, paintings, prints and plays, and my process is very intuitive.”
Bold and artistic to the core, the story arc of “I’m Ok” plays out via the dramatic movement of the art created by the main subject himself. We asked Hobbs more about the process and she explained, “I have a studio in the bathroom at home. I animated under the rostrum camera painting on a piece of A5 paper for each frame, using Dragonframe to capture the frames whilst the paint is still wet. I don’t use a storyboard or animatic, preferring to improvise under the camera.”
This improvisational look is a big part of what makes the piece so engaging. “In that way there are plenty of surprises and the work is lively,” Hobbs continued. “I edit all the sequences together as I’m going along, striving to create a kind of rhythm with the musical score.”
When we asked about the major road-bumps that usually happen on this kind of production, Hobbs surprised us with her lack of any: “Abigail Addison from Animate Projects was the project producer; she’s so calm and good at making sure that the production runs smoothly and that there is space for creative exploration. The co-producer was Jelena Popovic at the National Film Board of Canada which was fantastic. My process means that it’s not easy to be sure what the completed work will be like until it’s nearly finished and so it was necessary to have an experienced team who trusted me to work through the different iterations and were happy to pitch in if I was going too off the track.”
For more behind the scenes check out the making-of video here: