Sounding Blue

Moving Animation Set to an Orchestral Score

The colour blue has many associations. Tel-Aviv-based animator and illustrator, Daniela Sherer decided to take the melancholia that the colour often denotes and really run with it. Taking Duncan Thum‘s dramatic orchestral piece of the same name as a starting point, she made Blue using her signature illustrative style to paint an obscure and mystifying narrative accompaniment.

“At the time I was experiencing a rather hurtful side to love in my personal life, which I think made it into the film quite strongly,” Daniela recalls. Powerful imagery abounds as knives fall from the sky before transforming into roses, that quintessential symbol of love and pain all in one. For this beautiful yet haunting metamorphosis Daniela took her queue from a much-loved short play by William Saroyan entitled Knife-like, Flower-like, Like Nothing at All in the World.

The suspense in the film really builds with the music, which is itself a lush but foreboding piece, performed by a 65 piece orchestra. “The key inspiration was Duncan’s score. I listened to it, and felt it was really intense,” explains Daniela. “The two of us have collaborated for many years and I feel like I really ‘get’ his music – there’s some sort of deep creative understanding between us.”

Daniela opened up to us about the video and her career so far:

The Plus: How did you get into illustration and animation?
Daniela Sherer:
I’ve studied at USC in LA, and later did my MA at the Royal College of Art in London. But even before studying animation, I was always drawn to image-making and film. I think I was quite shy and introverted as a kid, so drawings were kind of a magical zone for me. Today I also feel like my career choice is a strange & escapist one.

TP: What is the message you hope Blue conveys?
Love hurts like hell. But that’s kind of beautiful too.

TP: The video is quite mysterious…can you reveal anything about the narrative to us?
I usually like to keep the story quite open and mysterious – I think that’s more engaging for the viewer. I did have a little story in mind for “Blue”, but even that isn’t set in stone. Generally the story tells of a man who gets a painful memory (in the shape of a flower) removed via surgery, while a woman takes a bath and dreams of knives and the beauty that can be found in pain/love. In my mind she created the painful memory for him and there’s a little flashback of that, but you can read it all in a different way too. The idea is that you as the viewer can project something from your own life and connect the dots in your own way.

TP: How do London and LA compare as cities and as places to be a student?
As I’m sure you know, the two cities have a completely different feel to them. Both are magical to live and study in though, and I feel lucky to have experienced both; LA with its slick venues, and sunny endless highways, and laid-back atmosphere, and London with its edgy, rough but ultra cool art scene, and cold winters… complete opposites really!  Both have a place in my heart and have shaped me as an animator and a person in really meaningful ways. 

TP: Would you like to branch out and do things like art exhibitions or books in future?
Animation is where my heart is. But for a long time I’ve been wanting to make a book actually. Now that you mention it, I think that could be a cool thing to experiment with.

TP: What will you work on next?
My work life is kind of a puzzle of freelance animation and personal projects (and this coming year I’ll also be teaching for the first time.) I think the next indie film I’ll be directing and animating will be a music video for my good friend Tom Rosenthal. I already have his wonderful track ready, and am beginning to draw my film for it. And maybe the book you’ve suggested – I’m liking that idea.