Artists in Conversation: Success Story

We Speak to the Directors behind a New Short Featuring Philosopher Alain De Botton

Success can be measured in myriad ways and means different things to different people. Perhaps in our money-driven society the widely-held ideals of success have become very narrowly focussed around wealth and status. Success, a new short video commissioned by The School of Life, features the ruminations of prominent philosopher and writer, Alain de Botton on the topic, with some refreshing conclusions.

De Botton set up The School of Life with the intention of teaching people “emotional intelligence” that he saw as sorely lacking from most higher education courses. It offers short-courses, talks and even therapy aimed at making you a more rounded individual. For Success The School of Life enlisted the skills of directors and Royal College of Art graduates Lara Lee and Hannah Jacobs, to create an animated accompaniment to some of de Botton’s musings on this sticky subject.

The result is a charming and thought-provoking little episode, which acts as a brilliant advert for The School of Life’s outlook.

We spoke to Lara and Hannah about working together on the project, in the latest of our ongoing Artists in Conversation series.

On their individual roles in the project:

Lara Lee: We don’t really have a strict division in roles. We brainstorm together and the ideas we come up with pretty much last throughout the projects. For this particular film, Hannah designed a lot of the scenes which I then polished up and finalised. But boundaries become blurred as we exchange work files often.
Hannah Jacobs: I think we both are pretty chilled out working together, and have complete respect for each other’s ideas. The great thing about collaborating is sometimes if you’re feeling a bit stuck you can talk it through and it gets your brain all excited again and you reach a solution that perhaps you wouldn’t have otherwise.

On how they came to work together:
I met Hannah at the Royal College of Art in London in 2012 when I transferred my course from Visual Communication to Animation. I really loved Hannah’s work at the RCA and was keen to collaborate but we hadn’t had a chance to work together until Hannah got a commission for The Darkest Truth About Love, also from The School of Life, at the beginning of this year and suggested I come onboard.
HJ: I think coming from a background in Illustration and Lara in Graphic Design means our animation technique is perhaps a slightly less traditional one. For me that’s a really important part of our collaboration – I love that element of surprise in each project. I feel lucky to be able to work with someone that I find so inspiring and helps me to challenge my own working process. It keeps me on my toes!

On working with The School of Life and Alain De Botton:
LL & HJ:
Alain has been wonderful to work for. Not only do we get to work with his amazing scripts but he is also very encouraging to do our own thing and gives us full creative control. That feels like a pretty rare gift in the animation industry, so we both feel very lucky to get to collaborate with him.

On the key message of Success:
The traditional perception of success is largely changing especially amongst our generation. I think It is hard to live by someone else’s idea of a successful life and everyone should seek their own definition of success. To me what’s important is that you grow through the process of whatever you do rather than seeing success as an end result in itself.

On upcoming projects:
LL & HJ:
We think there will be another short for The School of Life around the end of the year. Please keep a lookout for it!