At NUPA* I had a small school-studio, where students without money could learn, for free, the basic fundaments and tools of “2D animation” (that I prefer call “digital cut out”) and, in addition, to receive lectures from the best professionals in town. I also developed classes in different aspects of animation film content and animation as an art form. Humor and Comedy, the Creation Process, WB directors, UPA revolution and its influences and consequences, Russian Animation, the works of Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, Ward Kimball, Norman McLaren and Ralph Bakshi, were among the subjects we developed in classes, films projections and discussions.
But the main goal of NUPA was to apply the ethical principles for which I received the HOPES environmental award in 1996, as well as to foster Brazilian animation film production. In this case, I had in mind to stimulate the production of films that would promote both environmental awareness and genuine and positive affection of the city, its history, culture and its inhabitants. In a step further, to also give voices to those without, i.e. discuss, in a sympathetic way, the problems of those with less means. For example, the Recyclable Garbage Catcher´s sketch, in the Animated Kabaret.
With the Paulicéia films series, we divided the production development in three phases:
At Phase 01, a public screenplay competition, in a given theme, was opened to all São Paulo citizens, with a cash prize awarded to the chosen one. On doing that, we promoted the interest of São Paulo´s inhabitants to know more about their own city, and discuss issues as the pollution in São Paulo´s Rivers, bicycle transportation benefits, the Mário de Andrade writer artistic contributions, etc.
At Phase 02, the chosen screenplay would be visually developed and even improved, in a Pre-Production Workshop, with the participation of NUPA´s students, working under the supervision of a guest animation art director. The final products of this step were a full story board, a character and props design project and some color lay-outs.
Phase 03 was the production of the film itself, by hiring the best artists of São Paulo, to work together in a very collective way, with the participation of our students, when that was possible.
For the Animated Kabaret, which was developed to become the pilot of a future series, I worked as the showrunner. The purpose of this pilot was to create a kind of animation show that could integrate totally different styles, as an opportunity to give as much freedom as possible to the artists participating. And, as in all the NUPA´s films, to develop content related to the social-environmental issues of São Paulo.
Expansion, for the musical group O Jardim das Horas, from Fortaleza, Brazil, was created with the NUPA´s students learning exercises. A portion of it was done particularly for this video, inspired by its lyrics and synchronized with the music rhythm. It´s easy to perceive that, some drawings, are from beginners, but I used that to the advantage of the films art direction, as I explain next.
The lyrics talk about “Something different that is coming”, a new Time and something we need to understand about it. I connected this message with the spontaneity of the students and the fact that they ignore the animation canons, to take Dadaism as the first reference to the art direction. In addition, as this film would be obligatorily a “collage” of mismatched and contrasting images and scenes, and since collage is a typical early Modernism artistic concept, Modern Art History became the reference to everything in this film. If the viewer knows something about Modern Art, she/he will easily identify with the references. For instance, the scene with the musicians on the top roof of Copan (a famous modern building of São Paulo), with Laya the singer, naked, sitting together with the other two musicians, Raphael and Carlos Gadelha, pays a tribute to Édouard Manet´s painting “Le déjeuner sur l´herbe”. Such canvas is not only the most borrowed composition of all times but, furthermore, is considered, by many scholars, the first Modern Painting in history.
I also did the Expansion musical film with all that in mind, so I could use it back in NUPA´s art classes. Besides it, I experimented with my own elaboration, the gaps and bonds of Modern Art with Animation. My work for this film, as director, was mainly to create all the composites and to reanimate everything together, integrated with the music. I also did some animations myself, or worked very close with some of the more advanced students, to improve the quality of their contributions. Also to note, a lot of the elements and props of the background, that represent São Paulo city architecture and urban landscape, were created for this film by the illustrator and cartoonist Orlando Pedroso.
NUPA was supported by São Paulo´s Municipal Department of Culture and was installed at the Ruth Cardoso Cultural Center for Youth. NUPA´s objectives were achieved quite successfully, both in production of films, HOPE´s principles application and in the graduation of students. But with the mayors’ substitution and because of political interests, NUPA unfortunately ceased to be in 2012.
*NUPA: Núcleo Paulistano de Animação (São Paulo´s Animation Center)