Ryan Woodward was a prominent Hollywood animator, designer and storyboard artist who honed his talents working on some of the most beautifully animated films in recent memory including Space Jam, Osmosis Jones and The Iron Giant.
Having become disenchanted with the relentless pressures of Hollywood, he took up the position of Assistant Professor of Animation at Brigham Young University, and launched into a side project that was perhaps deemed too expressionistic for a traditional film audience.
The result was the breathtaking short film, ‘Thought of You’ - a combination of creative gesture drawing, experimental and traditional animation styles and contemporary dance, all set to the acoustic chimes of ‘The World Spins Madly On’ by The Weepies.
Although brief, the magnitude of this work cannot be overstated, with Ryan having to draw and refine over 4,000 individual frames to arrive at the finished product, and that excludes the several layers that make up each of these hand-crafted sketches. The distinctive colour palette, the texture of the backdrop, the rough edges and errors - all lead to an almost magical expressiveness and use of visual metaphor that really brings these brushstrokes to life.
All of a sudden the canvas becomes a stage, and the expressionless faces allow the rhythm of movement to tell this enchanting story of the complexities of intimate relationships, but without the distinct narrative that shepherds the viewer into one line of thinking; rather, each individual experiences something unique and personal that touches on their own sensibilities.
The story behind the film is captured in a short documentary where Ryan explains his idea, the challenges, and his approach at conveying a message through a new medium - animated contemporary dance, for which he was aided by the ever-talented choreographer Kori Wakamatsu.
With such charming work, it is of little surprise that ‘Thought of You’ has been showered in accolades including recognition at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, Sedona International Film Festival, and the 2D or Not 2D Animation Festival, to name but a few. It seems as though Hollywood’s loss has lead to wider gains, and I for one am eager to see what Ryan creates next.